While the term “tabletop games” means something different to different people, one thing is fairly universal: tabletop games are meant to be played with a small to medium gathering of like-interest folks for an entertaining and enjoyable experience that enriches the mind and imagination of those involved, or supports a healthy growth of social interaction.
There are a couple ideas on what constitutes a tabletop game. For those of us familiar with classic pen-and-paper roleplaying games, like Dungeons and Dragons or Vampire: The Masquerade, there is a differentiation between board games and tabletop games. For those unfamiliar, the term tabletop game takes on a different, literal connotation, meaning any game meant to be played on a table.
My main focus in this article is traditional RPGs, and my main focus among those with be Dungeons and Dragons, namely editions 3 and 3.5 since they are the systems I am primarily accustomed to.
Tabletop Games Support Physical Friendships
I’m not here to tell you that video and computer games are bad for your social life. I am here to say that there should be some form of face-to-face interaction with people of like interests in your life, and what better way than to join or form a game campaign at home or at a local comic shop? Its been a few years since I’ve played in a campaign myself, but it would be fun to get into a group that was dedicated to meeting weekly for a late evening romp through whatever fantasy world was dreamed up by the GM. Some members here at Leviathyn do have regular game nights where they play games like World of Darkness. A others have fond memories of campaigns and game groups gone by.
Unless you’re a game developer or hardcore roleplayer in online or other RPGs, most of the inventiveness and creativity is handled by the games these days. The beautiful environments and dynamic characters are all given to us to play through and get to know. With tabletop games, you’re tasked with developing the personality of your character as well as his or her actions, rather than just pushing a predefined husk through a prefabricated world. Not to lessen the impact of games like Skyrim, but the game can really only play out as it was programmed. Game masters running a tabletop campaign can change things up on the fly, making these games perhaps much more immersive and adaptive than any video or computer gaming experience you’ve encountered.
Tabletop Games Are Good For Your Brain
Some GMs insist that players do their calculations quickly to keep games moving along at a reasonable pace. This began to cause some players to resort to using calculators, but if you really want to get into it, the number crunching involved with these games can be a great way to keep yourself sharp, especially if you’re no longer a student (you lose those quick calculation skills as you grow). Calculating damage, figuring skill points, dealing with damage reduction bonuses and initiative rolls can keep your mental math skills sharp.
With important events happening in a storyline, it may also be important to have a keen memory for names and map orientation, so you can reference the events later for some sort of tie in. Some more skilled players may memorize abilities of monsters (though they would need to beware of metagaming rules, or rules against using personal knowledge unless the player’s character has the same knowledge) to figure out how to best defend against them or how best to attack them.
Other Games Are Good For Other Aspects
Other board games and such have close tie-ins to current day mobile or social games, and other popular games. Word games like Bookworm, Words With Friends, and Word Whomp developed from board games like Boggle, Word Factory, and Scrabble. Games like Monopoly sparked the passion for property development games like Build-a-Lot, and even classic strategy games like chess, checkers, othelo, and Go helped fuel the strategy war games like Red Alert, Starcraft, and many others. The upside to these games is that you can develop personal relationships with people in person better than over the internet often, and you can involve any friends (or relatives) you already have in your passion of gaming.
So if you are interested in finding a group to play a roleplaying game (even with no prior experience), check sites like Meetup or RPG Game Find. Many people are looking constantly for interested and new players, if only to grow the diminishing field of tabletop roleplayers nationwide and worldwide.