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Peer-Reviewed Study Says Dungeons & Dragons Good for Mental Health

The study from Games for Health Journal showed declines in depression, anxiety


A study published in Games for Health Journal Vol 13, No 2 titled A Study on the Efficacy of the Tabletop Roleplaying Game Dungeons & Dragons for Improving Mental Health and Self-Concepts in a Community Sample by Alyssay Merrick, Wendy Wen Li, and Dan J. Miller shows mental health benefits of tabletop roleplaying games.

Twenty-five participants played Dungeons & Dragons for one hour per week for eight weeks with surveys before, during, and after the game sessions. All participants played the same module run by a local games club in Queensland, Australia, and were balanced across prior experience with D&D with 16% having no experience, 32% moderate experience, and 20% a “great deal” of experience.

According to the study, “Participants demonstrated significant decreases in depression, stress, and anxiety and significant increases in self-esteem and self-efficacy over the study period”. The paper states that the results indicate D&D and other RPGs “may have potential utility as a wellbeing intervention or prevention program”.

A free version of the paper published by the authors is available in PDF format

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Darryl Mott

Darryl Mott

I'm not surprised! D&D has always been a great outlet for me creatively and socially. It helped me through the pandemic and during spates of depression.
Yeah it was not an accident that people got so back into it in the pandemic - the tech enabled it, for sure - but the desire to play it is undoubtedly connected to how much better it can make you feel. I honestly have almost never come back from a session not feeling better than before I went, which I can't say for really any other activity except maybe the gym (but not even really that). Even when things don't go good for my characters or the party, it's usually still really good. Last time felt bad playing would be like, teen years, and that was because of hormonal teenage headbutting (metaphorical), and bad DMing. Going to CoC today, with a DM on his second session ever, but based on his first, it should be good!


That was similar to what I was thinking. All else being equal, isn't a few hours spent hanging out and having fun with friends each week going to be good for your mental health, regardless of whether or not you play a TTRPG?
Exactly. There are lots of studies showing that chess after school is good for children's grades. But when they did a broader study, they found that it was just having an after school activity that was good, and chess wasn't better than anything else.

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