Tabletop role-playing games (RPGs) have become increasingly popular among all ages, offering a unique combination of storytelling, strategy, and social interaction. There are unique rewards and challenges of playing tabletop RPGs with teenagers, as well as addressing additional perspectives to help parents make the most of this engaging and rewarding experience.

Challenges of Playing Tabletop RPGs with Teenagers

There are many challenges that can become obstacles in playing RPGs with Teenagers. Below are some of the common challenges as well as some strategies to mitigate them.

  • Varying interests: One challenge parents may face when playing tabletop RPGs with their teenagers is finding a game that appeals to both parties. It is crucial to explore various genres and game styles to discover a common ground that everyone can enjoy. Tabletop RPGs offer a wide variety of genres and game styles that will appeal to all.
  • Coordinating schedules: Setting aside dedicated time for gaming sessions can be difficult, especially with busy schedules. Parents and teenagers must communicate and plan in advance to ensure everyone is available and committed to the gaming sessions.
  • Balancing structure and freedom: Tabletop RPGs often require a balance between structure and rules while allowing room for creativity and freedom of expression. Parents must be mindful of this balance to create a fulfilling gaming experience.
  • Overcoming reluctance: Teenagers might initially resist playing with their parents, so it is essential to approach the idea with enthusiasm and genuine interest in their hobbies.
  • Learning curve: Anyone new to tabletop RPGs might find the jargon and rules overwhelming. It is essential to invest time in understanding the game mechanics and being patient with the learning process. Open yourself up to the multitude of learning resources out there.
Our intrepid heroes do battle against a flying monster and a bear!

Benefits of Playing Tabletop RPGs with Teenagers

Bringing teens around the table to play RPGs has many benefits, some that may seem obvious and some that are more subtle.

First and foremost, playing RPGs together can strengthen family bonds. Tabletop RPGs can provide a shared hobby that strengthens family bonds and encourages quality time spent together. Engaging in a collaborative, imaginative world can create lasting memories and deepen connections. Many role-playing games lead to inside jokes and punchlines that naturally bring a family together.

Next, it can improve communication skills and foster empathy. Participating in tabletop RPGs can enhance communication skills as players collaborate and negotiate within the game. Additionally, role-playing allows teenagers to explore different perspectives and develop empathy for diverse characters.

Additionally, teens develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork abilities. Tabletop RPGs often present players with complex challenges that require critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Additionally, players must work together as a team to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.

A challenging aspect for teens is self-exploration and identity development. The role-playing aspect of tabletop RPGs offers a safe space for teenagers to explore different aspects of their personality and develop a deeper understanding of their identity.

Finally, playing RPGs helps foster a deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives. Engaging in a shared imaginative world can help parents and teenagers better understand one another’s thoughts, feelings, and motivations, leading to a more empathetic and supportive relationship.

These wolves are trouble!

Tips for Making the Most of the Experience

There a several easy ways to optimize the RPG experience and make it more engaging for everyone.

  • Most importantly, choose a suitable game. The group needs to find a game that suits the interests and preferences of both parents and teenagers. Research various tabletop RPGs and consider trying out several options before settling on one that everyone enjoys. Online shopping will give you a wide variety but also a group trip to the local book or game store can heighten the bonding experience as well as give you potential exposure to other gamers and experts.
  • Set expectations and ground rules. Establish clear expectations and ground rules to ensure a respectful and enjoyable gaming environment. This might include guidelines for behavior, turn-taking, and in-game decision-making.
  • Personalize the experience. Incorporate elements of popular culture or personal interests to create a more engaging experience. By tailoring the game to the players’ preferences, you can increase investment and enjoyment in the story and characters. Naming towns and Non-playing characters (NPCs) with inside jokes can add a sense of whimsy and familiarity to a new game.
  • Balance guidance and independence. Allow teenagers to take the lead in certain aspects of the game, such as decision-making or storytelling. Encourage their creativity while providing guidance when necessary, maintaining a balance between support and autonomy. We have a teenager in our game who enjoys antics that would likely get the entire group killed, we balanced this by having him play a wild mage, whenever he uses his powers he rolls a d20, the dungeon master announces whatever extra effect his magics have caused. He gets to have silly things happen without purposely harming the group, usually.

Collaborate With Your Teen

Involve teenagers in the game preparation and planning. Encourage your teenagers to contribute to world-building or character creation, fostering a sense of ownership and investment in the game. Building a backstory can help foster engagement and encourage role-play as well. Creating figurines to represent your character can be a fun bonding activity before play. A DM I’ve played with gave the group a bucket of LEGO mini-fig pieces to create our characters with. It let everyone show their creativity and see how we each saw our characters.

Work together to establish a regular gaming schedule. Ensure ongoing engagement and consistency by creating a regular gaming schedule that works for everyone involved. Scheduling is the Achilles’ heel for tabletop RPGs, if you go too long in the middle of a story players lose interest and it’s harder to dial back in to gameplay when you get back to it. If you are unsure of your schedule pick an easier game, from a starter pack for example when you’re new. These games are easier to play, usually have simpler storylines, and can be easily remembered.

Remember to be open to feedback. Seek input from your teenagers and be open to their suggestions for improving the gaming experience. Regularly discuss what works well and any areas for potential improvement. The first few games allow players to change their characters. Let them try new things to encourage continued engagement, especially when a first-draft character isn’t working how the player wanted or expected.

Additional Perspectives

Do not hesitate to embrace technology. Enhance the tabletop RPG experience by using virtual tabletop platforms and online resources, such as These tools can streamline gameplay, assist with organization, and facilitate remote gaming sessions. Engaged Family Gaming uses these resources for our online D&D game Coils of Destiny. It allows for players spread out across the country to get together and play. If you have extended family or friends, technology can help bring them together. This provides opportunities for greater social interaction and collaboration.

Attend tabletop RPG events or conventions together to further immerse yourselves in the gaming community and learn from experienced players. This is a wonderful chance to playtest games that have not yet been released and possibly get early access to new content. You can also meet other players, and get advice from them. Also have fun, events and conventions are full of people who enjoy gaming and usually really excited to be around like-minded people.

Final Thoughts

While there may be challenges when playing tabletop RPGs with teenagers, the experience can be a rewarding and memorable journey for the entire family. By embracing additional perspectives and being open to new ideas, parents can further enrich this bonding experience and foster a deeper connection with their teenagers. Ultimately, the positive aspects of bonding, skill development, and enjoyment should be the primary focus as you embark on this shared adventure. Remember that patience, open-mindedness, and a genuine interest in your teenager’s hobbies can create an engaging and fulfilling gaming experience for everyone involved.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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