RPGaDay #7 -- The Biggest Effect of RPGs on Me
I am just recovering from Gencon and catching up on RPGaDay. I could not let this question pass by, though. This question is particularly important for me.
RPGs, with no exaggeration, have made me the person that I am today.
I don't mean this simply in terms of being a hobby that I have pursued my entire life. I have picked up and largely dropped reading comic books. Similarly, I grew up alongside video games (from the Atari 2600) and play few today. Those have been long-term components of my life -- but they did little to define who I am. RPGs have shaped me my entire life and continue to do so.
When I was growing up (I mean early on - like elementary school), there were very few books in my house. By fourth grade or so, I had more RPGs books than there were non-RPG books in my house. Outside of the encyclopedias my parents bought (and soon regretted shelling out money for), there were probably fewer than half a dozen books at any given time. RPGs instilled a love of reading in me.
Particularly important in this process was the original Appendix N reading list. It was tough to get access to any books, really. I hung out at the library A LOT in school. The elementary (and later junior high) library did not really have much to offer. Nothing as sophisticated as the material on Appendix N (no, really). I remember spending a long time working out how to order The Face in the Frost from the book mobile that started coming around in junior high (at that time we still did not have an accessible library -- just a truck with books). By the time I was in late junior high, I joined a book club and got regular access to a book store and became a voracious reader. All of that stemmed from my early love of RPGs and the recommendation - necessity, really - to become familiar with fiction to play the game.
The games (various versions of DnD) also provided me a strong number sense and appreciation for math. Even the simple math in the game helped me develop a facility with arithmetic and mental math. It even set me up well for algebra with its (then never-ending) sets of equations and tables. After figuring out THAC0 and adding bonuses for roles, moving to simple arithmetic was simple. I even develop an early intuition for probability and statistics. Many early lessons in statistics made sense to a person who was steeped in 3d6 making 10 more likely than 18 but each side of a 20 sided die was equally likely.
I have no idea what sort of person I would be without this early access to reading and simple mathematical manipulations. Now my career centers on statistics and writing. I think all of it is possible because of the early skills developed in RPGs.