D&D General D&D (and potentially other TTRPG's) is a sport


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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The argument I've made is that mental exertion manifests physically.

You, unfortunately, are in the presence of a large number of people with access to Google, who can check whether thinking hard is really strenuous to the body - and it isn't.

Neural activity does burn energy, of course, but the overwhelming amount of your neural activity is not associated with active thought. The energy use difference between "mental exertion" and "vegging on the couch watching a movie" is not significant in your body's energy budget.

There are many reasons the body can "feel tired" other than "I had a workout". So, I'm sorry, but this just doesn't hold up. The biology is not on your side.

At the The World Mind Sports Games, they play five different mind sports: bridge, chess, draughts (checkers), go (weiqi), and xiangqi (Chinese chess). Why not D&D?

Because "Mind Sports" is a marketing phrase, not a statement of fact.

Also, because those games have clear objective scoring and win conditions, while RPGs do not, in general.

If we accept the premise...

We don't.
 

DollarD

Long-time Lurker
You, unfortunately, are in the presence of a large number of people with access to Google, who can check whether thinking hard is really strenuous to the body - and it isn't.

Good point! And I did! And it's not as clear cut as you make it out to be...

Here's a recent review of studies on the effects of Mental Fatigue on Physical Performance:
The Effects of Mental Fatigue on Physical Performance: A Systematic Review

The general finding was a decline in endurance performance (decreased time to exhaustion and self-selected power output/velocity or increased completion time) associated with a higher than normal perceived exertion.

Here's another one that doesn't require payment to read the entire review:
Fatigue Induced by Physical and Mental Exertion Increases Perception of Effort and Impairs Subsequent Endurance Performance

Consequently, it seems clear that fatigue induced by mental exertion decreases endurance performance, even if prior mental exertion does not alter physiological responses to endurance exercise.

Neural activity does burn energy, of course, but the overwhelming amount of your neural activity is not associated with active thought. The energy use difference between "mental exertion" and "vegging on the couch watching a movie" is not significant in your body's energy budget.

I feel D&D is not so close to "vegging on the couch watching a movie", but your kilometrage may vary. And as noted above, "mental exertion does not alter physiological responses."

So, yes, it does not alter the body's energy budget.

There are many reasons the body can "feel tired" other than "I had a workout". So, I'm sorry, but this just doesn't hold up. The biology is not on your side.

In any case, a reading of the above does substantiate your case with regards to certain biological aspects, as noted above.

Specifically:
First, the impact of physical and mental exertion on force production capacity is presented, with specific emphasize on the fact that solely physical exertion and not mental exertion induces a decrease in force production capacity of the working muscles.

However, they do note:
All these studies reached a consensus on the negative impact of prior mental exertion on endurance performance; even so elite athletes present a greater resistance to fatigue induced by prior mental exertion. This impairment was observed during cycling and running exercises. Interestingly, Smith and colleagues demonstrated that fatigue induced by mental exertion also impairs prolonged intermittent and graded running exercises. Consequently, it seems clear that fatigue induced by mental exertion decreases endurance performance, even if prior mental exertion does not alter physiological responses to endurance exercise.

So you are correct that physiologically, there appears to be no reason that mental exertion should affect performance. And yet studies have shown that it does. Why?

Therefore, these results raise a simple question: do physical exertion and mental exertion alter a common variable during subsequent endurance exercise? The answer is yes. This variable altered by both physical exertion and mental exertion is the perception of effort.

[...]

While the increased perceived exertion in presence of fatigue of a muscle group involved in subsequent endurance exercise is associated with an increase in activity of cortical premotor and motor areas (i.e., index of central motor command) to compensate for alteration of neuromuscular properties of the working muscles; the underlying mechanisms behind the increased perceived exertion induced by fatigue of a muscle group non-involved in subsequent endurance exercise and fatigue induced by mental exertion remain unclear.

[...]

An alternative hypothesis could be that prior prolonged activation of premotor and motor areas associated with the completion of the fatiguing exercise would induce intrinsic changes in the brain, inducing an alteration of the activation of premotor and motor areas in the subsequent exercise. [..] Therefore, future studies should investigate the underlying mechanisms responsible of the increased perception of effort during exercise and caused by prior physical and mental exertion.


Seems like it is going to require more study...

Because "Mind Sports" is a marketing phrase, not a statement of fact.

You might very well be right about that. But as the studies showed:
All these studies reached a consensus on the negative impact of prior mental exertion on endurance performance; even so elite athletes present a greater resistance to fatigue induced by prior mental exertion.

Maybe they're onto something?

Also, because those games have clear objective scoring and win conditions, while RPGs do not, in general.

However, for the purposes of a competition, a win condition can be set for a specific scenario, couldn't it? I rather imagine something similiar has been done at a Con somewhere?

We don't.

I rather suspected you wouldn't, based on the above. :ROFLMAO:

You certainly do make discussion interesting, Umbran. Making me cite sources for what was intended to be a humorous statement, lol. Thank you.

Now I've learned a bit more as well. :D
 

I would have to say no. If the amount of concentration made it a sport, being a programmer would be a sport too with etiquette being the professional code of conduct. We can't just keep calling everything a sport because it is a game. Some games are fine not being sports. It is a table-top role playing game and there is nothing wrong with that. Fencing would be a sport.
 


I am a finance professional as well as a hobby crossfit and olympic weightlifter.

I can tell you while both mental and physocal exertion are a thing, they are nothing alike.

I also strongly disagree that D&D requires the same level of concentration as a highly deterministic game like chess does where you can plan 20 steps ahead and the opponents likely responses.

And lastly, a sport needs to have a highly detailed set of rules and a referee who is not the opponent at the least.

I assume this post was made in joke, but it's pretty insulting to the work and discipline real athletes go through (of which I am not counting myself as one).
 

The key is if WotC/Hasbro can make money with actual-play shows or e-sports. My opinion is an e-sport based on d20 system would need a special "crunch" designed to be used by profesional munchkins, and that wouldn't be our D&D 5th Ed. Maybe we will see in the future more actual-play shows using virtual tabletops, and even videogames will offer the virtual tabletop mode as an optional mode.

Other option would be an asymetric e-spot where a group of players are the dungeon-crawlers, and other player is the dungeon-master controlling the traps and the summoning of minions and bosses. Something like "Resident Evil: Resistance".
 


I've actually been thinking about something related for a while-- essentially that the arguments about DND in terms of competition generally fail to consider indirect competition, namely the concept of testing. The goal of DND is usually to prevail not over the other participants who are trying their damndest to beat you, but over challenges created deliberately as solvable tests of skill, knowledge, cunning or other desirable (at least in a play sense) qualities. Video Games tend to be the same way, a boss monster is literally made to be beaten, the joy in beating them is in the process of solving the problem, and the self satisfaction of improvement-- even while the presence of that process contextualizes other elements of play that are more sensory. It's also the alignment of character goal and player goal allowing you to enjoy their victories by proxy in the context of narrative.
 

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