Jeffrey Roth, Director of Experiential Analytics with Booz Allen Hamiltion, and lifelong “Dungeons & Dragons” fan, talks about a few important lessons he learned when he was younger from the world’s most popular tabletop RPG.
Dungeons & Dragons, or D&D for short, is a tabletop role-playing game that has been around for over 40 years. I first played it when I was in the 7th grade after an introduction from my older cousin. D&D gained a reputation for being a game of fantasy and imagination, where players create their own characters and embark on epic adventures together. While D&D is a game, it also provides valuable lessons that can be applied in real life. Here are seven:
In D&D, players must work together as a team to accomplish a common goal. Each player has a unique role to play, and each character has their own strengths and weaknesses. This requires players to communicate and collaborate effectively to overcome challenges and complete campaigns. Many D&D stories are not made for the individual, so forming a “party” or group is critical. Working together may bring some initial conflict, but groups form quickly into high-performing teams. The same principle applies in real life. Teamwork and collaboration are essential to success.
D&D is a game of imagination, and it requires players to think outside the box to solve problems. Whether it’s navigating a dungeon or outsmarting a monster, players are encouraged to be creative and come up with unique solutions. In real life, creative problem-solving is a valuable skill that can help you overcome obstacles. By exploring new solutions, you can find innovative ways to solve problems and achieve success.
Team diversity creates strength. You’ll never survive in D&D without a party composed of different skills. Whether a wizard, thief, or cleric, everyone has skills to tackle distinct situations. Everyone has a role and no one player can be successful by themselves.
In D&D, players set goals for their characters and plan out how they will achieve them. Just like setting goals in your job, D&D encourages learning and skill building so you can level up and be even more powerful in your craft. By setting clear goals and creating a plan to achieve them, you stay focused and motivated.
In D&D, players often have to take risks. Whether it’s confronting a dragon or navigating a dangerous labyrinth, players must be willing to take chances and face adversity. In real life, taking risks can be uncomfortable or scary but often leads to some pretty amazing things.
In D&D, the dungeon master (or gamemaster) controls the world and the story. As a player, you have to be flexible to unexpected events or changes in the story. This requires players to think on their feet and be willing to adapt. In real life, things don’t always go as planned. Being able to adapt to changing circumstances is essential.
In D&D, players must work together to overcome obstacles and make decisions as a group, while at the same time learning to work together. Through a shared experience such as role-playing, you learn to understand other people through their frame of reference.
Looking back, Dungeons & Dragons was more than a game. It provided valuable lessons during my formative years that I was able to apply later in life, including teamwork, problem-solving, diversity, goal-setting, risk-taking, flexibility, and empathy. By embracing these lessons, you can achieve success both in the game and in life.
Jeff Roth leads Experiential Analytics capability for Booz Allen Hamilton, a global consulting firm. As a director for digital transformation, he develops customized experiences that allow clients to use scenarios to explore solutions to prepare for future challenges. With Booz Allen for more than 20 years, Jeff’s expertise is in reinventing how organizations use stories to make decisions.
Jeff oversees a team of professionals with decades of experience in analytical research, modeling and simulation, wargaming, and facilitated exercises. They tailor experiential products and bring them to life with video, audio, game design, immersive technologies, artificial intelligence, and more. Using these solutions, clients can assemble numerous variables, explore multiple possible futures, experiment with different decisions, and experience the resulting outcomes to make better decisions.
Prior to joining Booz Allen, Jeff was a management consultant in New York City and served as a captain in the U.S. Army, based in Germany. Jeff has an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame. Early gaming influences include Frogger, Ultima III: Exodus, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and Choose Your Own Adventure books.