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Reading, Writing & Roleplaying is an upcoming Escapist project devoted to using roleplaying as an educational tool, both in the classroom and out.

The goal here is to create a home for examples, methods, and ideas that will inspire anyone interested in teaching through roleplaying. If you are an educator, game designer, or anyone else interested in the subject matter and would like to participate, please contact me at

You can also visit the Reading, Writing, & Roleplaying discussion group at for updates and discussion on roleplaying and education.

NOTICE: Sam Chupp's Dragonkin podcast includes an episode that features an interview with David Millians, an educator from Georgia who has used roleplaying simulations in his classroom for well over a decade. The 45-minute interview is packed with ideas and inspiration, and is a must-listen for anyone who is interested in using roleplay simulation to teach. Visit and look for Episode 5.


May 27th, 2010 (link to this)

JAPANESE "RPG" TEXTBOOKS FROM NAMCO BANDAI AND GAKKO TOSHO -  This story from NetworkWorld about Japanese choose-your-own-adventure textbooks hit my inbox yesterday:
Japanese news outfit Asahi reports that Namco Bandai -- the Japanese role-playing game powerhouse behind the Tales series -- and textbook publisher Gakko Tosho have a partnership to produce textbooks laced with JRPG elements. The new textbooks in development for math, science, and language arts will hit classrooms as early as next spring.

It sounds like Namco Bandai is layering a choose-your-own adventure into the basic work/textbooks most students use in elementary school. Students follow an RPG storyline by, say, solving math problems and each right answer nets them a key. Scoring enough keys wins the student some kind of prize -- but it's not clear if the prize is contained within the book or something physical the teacher distributes. It could be pretty entertaining edutainment if it's not too easy to cheat the game like you can with most choose-your-own adventures.
Because Namco Bandai is behind it, most people will connect this with video games - but it's much more like a tabletop RPG than anything else, and with a carefully planned format and teacher's guide, there wouldn't be any real concerns over students "cheating" the game. There are a lot of cues that could be taken from existing RPGs that would expand and improve upon this idea.

This could be an incredible teaching tool that inspires kids to learn through roleplaying. It would be really nice to see Wizards of the Coast attempt something like this here in the US.

Of course, we wouldn't have to wait around for WotC, would we? Pretty much anyone could take the initiative on something like this... (nudge, nudge) 

September 4th, 2009 (link to this)

TWO TESTIMONIES - Since school has (mostly) begun again here in the United States, I've been putting out the call on Twitter and on the Escapist blog for information from anyone who is running (or planning to run) RPGs for kids at schools or libraries. My plan (as always) is to gather stories, experiences, tips, and advice that others can use if they want to organize such a program - and to give a bit of a nudge to those who have been thinking about it and just need a little push to get it started. I received the following email from Dan (who, for privacy reasons, has asked that I not name the school where he works):
I am the Network Administrator at a New England private high school. Last year, I ran a D&D game every other week. Almost all new players, a mix of freshmen and seniors. We played 4th edition, and started on Keep on the Shadowfell. We had about 6 regular players. The only issues we ran into were of a scheduling variety, as the underclassmen don't have a lot of unstructured time, and we don't quite get a 4 hour session, which leads me to the second problem. KotS was too long an adventure for an every other week 3 1/2-4 hr session game to fit comfortably in a school year.

If there is interest I intend on trying to make this a tradition, with a couple of changes.

1. Modules designed for 4-hours. Either delve format or more likely living forgotten realms.
2. One module/session
3. Entertaining the possibility of opening up the game to other genres/systems/games
4. Limiting participation to Juniors & Seniors (Grandfathering the sophomores from last year though)

Things that I learned:

1. D&D 4 is very accessible, to non tabletop gamers (the kids were geeks however)
2. Human Fighters aren't the 'safe' newbie class anymore
3. Explaining power sources and roles are very important to a new player matching up to a class that 'clicks' enough that they're easy to learn (related to #2, the human fighter's player had a really tough time being relevant. After a talk about what she wanted her character to do, she picked a cleric, and took to her really easily)
4. Was surprised that the players gender-ratio was practically 1:1, with a slight favoring of girls
5. There was a fair number of kids who wanted to kibitz. This caused some problems, as they were a distraction to an already too big group. In the future, I'll probably give them NPC's and monsters to run.
I also received an email a little while ago from Eric Basir, who ran the Marvel Super Heroes RPG for a small group of kids as an after-school role-playing club at a parochial school in Illinois. His description of it is too perfect not to share:
My attempt to work with children, teens (and youthful adults) to use their imaginations to interact with one another in a make-believe environment with the purpose of promoting good manners, spirituality and righteous competition.
He has collected the videos into two playlists - you can watch them here and here. That's all of the response I've seen so far, and while those are two excellent testimonies, I want MORE! Are you running any RPGs at schools or libraries? Share your knowledge and experience with us!

December 30th, 2008 (link to this)

REBECCA THOMAS INTERVIEW - Rebecca Thomas, the creative force behind The Roleplay Workshop in Oakland, California, was gracious and generous enough to answer my questions about her roleplaying program and how it benefits young people in both education and socialization.

She also shares some insight on the challenges she has faced in turning a passion for roleplaying and education into a business.  Read it here.

December 2nd, 2008 (link to this)

THE PLAY'S THE THING - The Associated Press released an article on the importance of play in education that gives a brief mention to fantasy role-play:

Vivian Paley, a former kindergarten teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and now an author and consultant, says the most vital form of play for young children involves fantasy and role-playing with their peers.

"They're inventing abstract thinking, before the world tells them what to think," Paley said in her speech to the conference.

Read more here: article | archive

--- The Escapist ---


The official Reading, Writing & Roleplaying forum.

The Reading, Writing, & Roleplaying Wiki at the Escapist Wiki - a wiki that will feature RPG reviews, lesson plans, and other resources. It is still in the early stages at present, and needs lots of great content. Contact me if you are interested in participating.

GAMA - The website of the Game Manufacturer's Association has several resources for educators interested in bringing many different types of games - not only RPGs - into the classroom. You can find out more at GAMA's Games In Education page.

GAMA also hosts The Origins International Game Expo, held in Columbus Ohio every summer, which features a program called the Teacher's Hall Pass. Educators receive a free 4-day convention pass, which grants access to hundreds of game dealers (many of whom offer educator discounts), and game demos of all kinds. Plus, you can relax in the Teacher's Lounge, talk with other educators attending the convention, and participate in special game demos that feature an emphasis on lesson plans and learning goals.

The program is open to teachers at all grade levels, resource center specialists, school librarians, principals, college professors, homeschoolers, and public librarians. You can find out more about the program at

Games and Education - The blog of David Millians, a Georgia teacher who uses RPG and LARP in his classroom to teach history.

Homeschool RPG: Scott Duncan blogs about contributing to the education of his three homeschooled daughters through RPGs. His posts are well written and very enjoyable to read.

Reacting to the Past, A roleplaying curriculum pioneered by Barnard College in New York.

“Reacting to the Past” (RTTP) consists of elaborate games, set in the past, in which students are assigned ro les informed by classic texts in the history of ideas. Class sessions are run entirely by students; instructors advise and guide students and grade their oral and written work. It seeks to draw students into the past, promote engagement with big ideas, and improve intellectual and academic skills.

The Roleplay Workshop, a year-round program in Oakland, California.

Ruthless Diastema - "An exploration of games in the classroom." This high school English teacher gives his students a "character sheet" that they fill out as they achieve different accomplishments in his class. He has a fantasic blog and podcast that are filled with ideas and examples. Required reading and listening!

 Working Hard at Play, an article on the educational benefits of Dungeons & Dragons, by Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel of New Horizons For Learning