Gaming without a screen; a year of storytelling games

One thing I speak about with a lot of parents is how to properly navigate game time as part of a balanced lifestyle. Often parents have concerns over screen time and some of the problematic elements of online engagement – and these concerns can be valid.

But there is a difficulty which arises – what to do instead? There aren’t always a lot of alternatives that are still interesting to gamers, or inclusive to folks experiencing mental health, at least, not without knowing where to look.

Roll for Growth has been my passion project for the last year now, and at its core lies a really simple and very human experience; coming together to tell stories. 

But in playing a storytelling game we can create wonderful opportunities to express ourselves, share stories, and play a game game driven by our own creativity. It’s a wonderful opportunity to engage in fun, nerdy play, but off-line, in-person, with a small group of folks who might even become friends.

Games are available for kids as young as 6!

What I wanted to achieve with Roll for Growth is to provide not only a therapy, but awareness of an activity, that is fun and engaging, fuelled by creative thinking and storytelling, which brings people together, but still has appeal to gamers.

Nerdy doesn’t have to be unsociable – and board games don’t have to be restrictive, linear experiences. Theres actually really awesome board games out there which are really fun and engaging – which is great because I’m tired of Connect 4 and Scrabble. 

Some books, some dice, some dice trays, and sheets of paper where we design characters are the tools of the program

Part of this journey has been finding ways to make the games inclusive. I’ve found resources to support players who experience reading and writing difficulties, and have even found ways to include experiences in our characters; disability advocates have created ingame rules for assisting technologies such as wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs.

Every Roll for Growth group is a different experience because the players guide the sessions with their own stories and improvisations. This gives each table its own character and flair – one group might have more of a focus on dramatic stories, another may be an improv fantasy comedy, while others could explore the meaning of life in a grounded, down to earth story. 

Sessions don’t even have to be fantasy, there are games for any number of genres; science fiction, vampire noir, superheroes, high school for monsters, wizard school, or even sports. There’s also games created for specific franchises, such as Star Wars, Fallout and Avatar: The Last Airbender

Roll for Growth has been an absolute pleasure to offer to our community, and there’s currently new groups in the works and a program for the summer holidays. It has been the adventure of a lifetime – and it’s only just beginning. I can’t wait to see what new journeys we all share together at the table.

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