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D&D and the eight intelligences, or, "We're gonna need a bigger character sheet"
Posted by WJWalton on Thu 30 of Sept., 2010 08:51 PDT
Lucas at uses Dungeons & Dragons as a metaphor to explain Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, which claims that human beings have several different types of intelligence, rather than one all-encompassing INT score:
So, the analogy here lies in the similarities in an RPG character’s abilities or statistics and our own multiple intelligences. To take the analogy to the next level, an RPG character who is a fighter might experience a situation where they are required to fight a band of marauding goblins. The fighter’s approach to this situation would be to whip out his sword, charge into battle, and start swinging, achieving victory through brute strength. A character who is a wizard will approach the same encounter quite differently. The wizard would assess the field, and using his keen intellect, begin casting damaging spells at the goblin force while trying very hard to avoid physical contact with the invading force.

In a similar fashion, we as learners with varying intelligences will approach learning differently. When presented with a new concept to be learned, a logical-mathematical person may try to understand the material in a step-by-step approach, whereas a person with a great deal of spatial intelligence might try to visualize the concept in a three-dimensional way.

Lucas then goes on to pose another metaphor, comparing the varying abilities of D&D characters working together to people using the strengths of their different intelligences as a team.

The funny thing is, many RPGs model this sort of thing in character creation - sure, there's usually one lone Intelligence score, but many rule systems contain advantages that characters can take that include most, if not all, of the eight - linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, naturalist, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. So the metaphor applies on a few different levels.

Here's the full article -, and here is more on the theory of multiple intelligences, for those who would like to explore the subject further:

(Special thanks to Jason Paul McCartan for the links.)

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