A fortnight back, Rupture’s lead designer, Kenny Francis contributed a piece on using RPGs for self-discovery. I liked the idea of an introspective on RPGs and Mental Health so much that when fellow Rupture team member Jason Barton offered to write about social anxiety it was easy to accept.
It’s perhaps no surprise that the Rupture team, Storycraft Games, are happy to write on these topics for Geek Native. On the Rupture site they note;
Through this focus, Storycraft Games aims to provide players with more than just a fun and rewarding time, but a means promote creativity and positive mental health through active story-telling.
Overcoming the Overwhelming – TTRPGs and Social Anxiety
By Jason Barton
There’s a moment where you sit, focusing on your breathing, the sounds that surround you become a dull roar, and your own heartbeat fills the void of sound. For many of us, Social Anxiety can be a true hindrance in our day to day lives and make the concept of interacting with new and unfamiliar people exhausting. However, let me tell you how tabletop games have changed that for me.
Picture the perfect game master, you’ll probably see an image in your head of this individual doing character voices, telling an engaging story, and even captivating your table with every word. The pressure was real for me the first time I sat down to play a game. Having this moment ofk panic at a game shop in Massachusetts as players filled my table. Stage fright set in and the above described scene filled my mind with dread. I needed to get eyes off me, I needed to breathe, and I needed to get out of this chair.
This was a normal reaction to have as it turns out. As I sat there panicked, an individual walked up, clearly seeing the fear in my eyes. They smiled and told me something I take with me to every new table.
You know, they’re just as nervous as you are… even more so”
We tend to focus on ourselves in these moments of existential panic, forgetting that we truly are not the only ones at this table. When in all actuality, we are all sitting down for this common interest.
Considering now I have run tabletop games for quite a few years, it’s true that we have all these wonderful tools to overcome this truly overwhelming feeling. My play style in fact has been altered by what I view to be the single most important tool for combating the social anxiety at a table, Role Play. Remember these are called role playing games reason, we all have a part to play in combined storytelling experience. This single piece to many of these games allows you to step outside of yourself for a few moments and truly relax.
Working on Rupture now, I see this escapism written into each page and in the voices at each table. Remembering those words said to me in that adventurers league game, I smile knowing now as I see new generations and new situations sit down at these tables. Each with their own reasons and personalities, I see the things I love help others overcome the same way it helped me so many years ago.
At this point I have run, played, and worked not only because I love them. But also, because I truly see the good they provide to people who have a need for the outlet. These games allow us to find who we are and how to get there. Without tabletop games I wouldn’t be the person I am today, so I owe everything to this community.
Roll for insight. What does your success tell you about this article?