The SAGeeks series is all about celebrating the geeky and nerdy sides of all of us working in higher education and student affairs. The series is edited by Jenn Osolinski and Lynne Meyer. Check out our resources page for more geeky goodness.
One of the noblest, and most stereotyped, geek activities is that of Role Playing Games (RPGs). Don’t know what that means? I bet you do once you learn that Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is an RPG, and yes, even D&D has lessons for us for those in Student Affairs.
What are RPGs? Although you may have heard of the very popular D&D, you may have never learned what it is exactly. Unlike traditional games, RPGs typically have no board and no pieces, just a rule book, dice, and players set out on an adventure seeking to achieve something great. You might be wondering how they accomplish anything without a board and pieces. Players use their minds! They challenge themselves to create a vision in their head of what is going on, design their characters according to the rulebook, and use pen & paper to track their progress. Then when the characters try to perform actions, such as striking the Dragon with their sword to save the princess, they roll a 20 sided die to see their effectiveness.
Each time they play, one person takes on a unique role -- the Dungeon Master (DM). DMs are, in a way, the Student Affairs professionals of the fantasy world that is unfolding for the players. The DM paints a picture for the adventures of world they are exploring, and informs the players of their goals for the quest. Additionally, DMs do not participate in the quest but are themselves challenged by serving as the “in-between” for the adventurers and the world itself. Roles the DM can take on range from the honorable King who supports the players with tools that will aid their needs, and sometimes even act as the Dragon that presents the players with their toughest challenge yet. If the players work together, utilize their skills and abilities they may overcome these challenges and be renowned for their success.
As Student Affairs professionals, many of us take on the role of Dungeon Master for our student’s quests. Similar to a DM, Student Affairs professionals have spent lots of time studying student development (the game mechanics), have a good grasp on rules of the land, and have had first-hand experiences that aid in providing context to students.
Now the interesting thing is that just like our students, the players choose their own actions. Some choices might be noble, others far from it. Regardless the Dungeon Masters serve as the in-between for how the environment (University) reacts to the choices of the players. Sometimes it’s to recognize them for their achievement, challenge them, or hold them accountable for their actions.
Okay. I get it. We are all Dungeon Masters, now what?
I challenge you to assist students in connecting their experiences into a holistic narrative, equip students with the tools for success, present noble quests & challenges when appropriate (Dragon or no Dragon your choice), hold them accountable for their actions, and celebrate the successes of their adventure.
Bruce Brown currently works in Student Activities at Texas A&M University - College Station. He is the Leadership Program Coordinator for LeaderShape & StrengthsQuest, and advisor for two service based student organizations. Bruce is an avid gamer, grew up outside NYC, completed his MA at BGSU, has traveled to all 7 continents, and even met his fiancee thanks to Legos.
Connect with Bruce via Facebook, Instagram, and add him as a GeekBuddy on BoardGameGeek!