Chris Pine makes a compelling argument for kids to play Dungeons & Dragons in schools
He makes some excellent points about cooperation and imagination.
Chris Pine plays the lead role in the film "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves," but until recently, he had never played D&D himself. Now that he's experienced the magic of the nearly 50-year-old roleplay game, he believes it should be played in schools.
Pine told Slash Film that his nephew has been playing D&D with a group of friends for six years, and he's the one who introduced the game to his famous uncle and a few other family members, including Pine's parents, who are 82 and 76.
"Within 15 minutes, we were having the time of our lives and we didn't have to know anything," he said. It was "immediately accessible," he said, especially in a family of actors, since the roleplaying game is essentially improv acting.
"It's, 'Here's what's happening. This is what you have. This is your obstacle. Now go,'" he said.
But it's the soft skills that the game encourages that left Pine feeling like the game should be played in schools.
"It immediately teaches cooperation," Pine shared with Slash. "It exercises the imagination. It's joyous, it's improvisational. And within a matter of minutes, everybody's on the same page. You're not arguing about whether or not you're cool or not. You're arguing about whether or not you should have gone over the boulder to kill the dragon."
"I think it's about the coolest thing I've encountered in a long time," he added.
Pine isn't the only one who sees a social and educational benefit to playing Dungeons & Dragons. Teacher Kade Wells, who saw the test scores of her ninth-grade Dungeons & Dragons club members rise, believes that playing D&D can make kids smarter. There is more than just anecdotal evidence to back that assertion up.
"Dungeons & Dragons, and other narrative role-playing games of its kind, provide many opportunities for learning,” David Simkins, a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and an expert on games and learning, told KQED. “Participation in narrative role play can open up interests in topics such as mathematics, science, history, culture, ethics, critical reading, and media production. When D&D and its cousins are played in an inviting, encouraging, compassionate, and intellectually engaged environment, play opens the door to truly amazing possibilities for learning.”
Socially, D&D has come a long way since the early 1980s, when talking about your Dungeon Master or whipping out your 12-sided die would automatically brand you a geek or a freak. (For the record, those "freaks and geeks" are likely the reason we're all here on this website on whatever device we're on—yay for creative innovators who battled imaginary dragons in their friend's basement for fun.)
The game has grown in popularity over the years and it saw a huge surge during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now here we are with a feature film starring a handsome Hollywood heartthrob who publicly sings the praises of D&D. Who would have guessed D&D would become truly, genuinely…cool?
Perhaps the group of successful, professional 40-something-year-old friends I personally know, who have played D&D every Thursday night for years and years, would have guessed it. Some of them have known each other since high school, and they never get tired of the game. The open-endedness of D&D is part of its appeal—the possibilities for how the game can go are endless and dependent almost entirely on the imaginations of the players. No wonder it has stood the test of time and finally earned the respect it always should have had from the mainstream.
Watch the trailer for the D&D-themed film starring Chris Pine: