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The Future is Analog: Tabletop Roleplaying for Learning

Research shows that TTRP might hold significant value for youth social and emotional development. Here’s why.

Graphic: John Roque
  1. Psychology and Role-Playing Games
  2. Reality is broken: Why games make us better and how they can change the world
  3. Needs Met Through Role-Playing Games: A Fantasy Theme Analysis of Dungeons & Dragons
  4. Imaginative Role-Playing as a Medium for Moral Development: Dungeons & Dragons Provides Moral Training
  5. Three Different Paths for Tabletop Gaming in School Libraries
  1. Our partnership with the Seattle non-profit Game to Grow, which uses D&D (among other games) for therapeutic, educational, and community growth.
  2. A TTRPG we co-designed with the Marine Science team, ocean professionals, and the folks at Aspiring Youth, with the unofficial working title Penguins off the Port Bow that puts youth in the positions of marine scientists to build career and STEM interest.

Game to Grow

The collaboration between Game to Grow and foundry10 began in earnest towards the beginning of the pandemic. Their work using D&D as a platform to help youth who may have trouble socializing is inspiring to us as a use of games for good. The partnership was a natural fit, and we are excited to explore the role of TTRPGs in the lives of youth.

Penguins off the Port Bow

Our second project in TTRPGs is a collaboration with Aspiring Youth, a local non-profit that provides a wide variety of RPG programming for neurodiverse youth. It began as a request to help design some science-related programming that could be done remotely, and wound up being the first ever game designed, in part, by foundry10 staff! For the time-being, we are calling it Penguins Off the Port Bow (POPB, for short). Fully remote-ready, we are excited to see how it performs with real youth in the coming months.

Some of the 8 available fields of expertise are:

Ocean Engineer: The Achiever

Marine Archaeology Knowledge

Visions of Atlantis have inspired you since you were a child. As an experienced professional, you have helped to unearth great mysteries of sunken ships, downed airplanes, submarines, and various treasures that humanity has long forgotten. Your ability to combine seemingly abstract documents, historical records, and modern sea charts to pinpoint sites of interest to explore is uncanny.


You can talk a seagull off an open oyster. Your power of persuasion stems from your strong confidence in the mission and goals of your life’s work. Whether you are requesting support from shore, interpreting the interests of the scientists to authorities, or enlightening the public on the wonders and plight of the ocean, your voice is authoritative and compelling.

Sonar Mapping

The images a SONAR produces are colorful and confusing to most people, but you can read them like a book. This allows you to easily interpret what the entire water column and structures on the seafloor look like beneath your ship, including large schools of fish, shipwrecks, rock structures, and bubble plumes; handy information to have before dive operations. This skill can be impacted by functions like how fast the ship is moving and weather conditions.

Going Forward

We believe there may be immense value to this sort of roleplaying for youth, and we think this is a valuable direction for games research to go. D&D, in particular, is easy to pick up and play, and provides a wealth of flexibility and options for educators to adapt their content goals.



foundry10 is an education research organization committed to expanding ideas about learning and creating direct value for youth.

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foundry10 is an education research organization with a philanthropic focus on expanding ideas about learning and creating direct value for youth.