Thank you very much! I'm happy to be able to ramble on about these things. I can, as is probably obvious here, talk about psychology and games all day long! I've got the next couple of questions here, so if anyone else has any other questions feel free to ask!Do you believe training in psychology will help GM's run games, both in managing out of character social tensions and in creating games more targeted towards their players desires? If so how much training do you think is valuable vs how much is overkill for increasing skills in a hobby?
I definitely think that training in psychology has helped me in many of my social interactions. If you really pay attention in the training, take things to heart, and apply them you almost can’t avoid getting better at dealing with social problems around you. I also definitely think that my training has helped me in GMing games, especially with the child-group that I’ve been running. With them, management of out of character social tension is obviously more difficult than my group of adult friends who mostly can manage themselves! I also think it has helped me with targeting games, though I’ll admit I have slightly less valid data on this as my psychological training has been happening as I’ve grown steadily older and more mature.
(Psych Fact! The fore-brain (where most of logical reasoning, consciousness, and decision making seems to be located) is still developing until about age 25!)
My own good experiences aside, I think it may be something more like a side benefit than something people ought to be attempting to get to up their game. Honestly, the amount of work that goes into the whole psych-degree just is more than it’s probably worth for the benefit. That said, there are some pretty excellent books that give information about how people tick which can be fun reads and may be a bit of help. Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works
is a very fun read, for example. There’s not a lot of resources on RPGs and Psychology for a layman’s reading perspective (and honestly relatively little at the scholarly level as well), but I’m hoping to change that in the future. You know, let me think on this and I’ll come back to you… I’m certain I should have a resource or two I could throw your way!How’s your research coming about, without getting into great detail?
Without getting into great detail? This may not be my area of expertise!
My research is currently mostly in a sort of pilot stage. I’ve been gathering mostly qualitative data at the moment, but I’m working on both measures and a treatment condition. Essentially I want to look at whether social skills (and perhaps other measures of development) can be improved through the use of targeted role-playing games. Where this gets interesting is that role-playing games require fairly significant amounts of theory of mind which is highly correlated with social skills.
P.S. If any psych people are out there and want to steal my research idea… Uh… please don’t? Or if you do, at least get in contact with me and we can collaborate! And if you are going to ABCT, let me know and we should grab a beer!
Progress is slightly slow, but I’ve found several tenured professors who are willing to work with me on this. Mostly I’m trying to figure out some kind of behavioral measure that gives me an idea of what’s happening, because self-report is kind of a flimsy way to do science.RPGs in some form or other have been used in therapy for years, as far as I understand. Can you recommend any good recent studies or review papers on the topic?
Oh man, you guys just keep on coming up with questions that make me have to think! Once again, I need to make a bit of a separating between ideas.Roleplaying
has been a part of a lot of therapies for quite a long time. It is exceptionally common in Cognitive or Behavioral therapies and pretty frequently used in treatments of certain personality disorders. Additionally, it is used all the time for development of social skills (either in the context of Autism Spectrum Disorders or otherwise!). Most of the time this is something like attempting to understand someone else’s emotional/mental state (understanding the stresses of an alcoholic parent, for example) or practicing skills that are currently at a deficit (practicing making a phone call or initiating conversations).
As for roleplaying games
there is slightly less information. In looking for information on RPGs and development, I’ve been spending a ton of time trying to find good articles. Let me tell you, if you want to know about the social structures of MMOs you can swim in papers. I’m still trying to parse a lot of the papers that are actually RPG related, but given that my own focus is on developmental disorders (for RPGs at least, my clinical interest are not really towards this), I’m not the best resource on everything there.
That said, I know off the top of my head one thing I can point you to which is pretty hot off the press!
At the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Conference this year, there is going to be a presentation called Using Structured Therapeutic Games to Enhance Empirically Based CBT Treatment for Child Sexual Abuse
by Drs. Springer and Misurell. I’m quite excited to be seeing this, because honestly I think that roleplaying games are widely underused in treatment settings! This is based off of a 2012 paper, I believe, but my hope is that it will be something of a push for development of game-based treatments. There are things inherent, I think, in a game over a basic loose roleplay that are additionally beneficial.
I also know that a lot of work is being done currently in decision making for political leaders using roleplaying games, but I’ll admit that I can’t at the moment recall the names of any of the authors or papers related to that! Worst AMA host ever.
I hope these are helpful! Let me know if there are any clarifications, other questions, off-shoot questions, etc that I can answer for you!