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Social play a window to personal, professional success?

Anthony Rodriguez
February 20, 2018

EHE web developer takes to TED Talk stage this weekend

When John Arcadian took to the Mershon Auditorium stage Feb. 24 for the 2018 TEDxOhioStateUniversity, he wants you to go play; to make silly voices; to tell stories.

Your personal and professional success might just depend on it.

“In adult life, we don’t have a lot of places to play, to do this kind of social play that you do when we’re kids playing firefighter or astronaut,” said Arcadian, a front-end web developer in the College of Education and Human Ecology. “That’s odd because play is how we practice things as children. And social skills are so critical. Why don’t we practice them as adults?”

One way to get this practice, he said, is by playing tabletop role-playing games, such as Fiasco, Cypher System and Monsterhearts.

Playing these games lets people create characters, storylines and shared narratives in social settings. More importantly, acting out those characters helps players get more comfortable speaking and deciding how to move the story forward.

These creative chances and character development in gameplay are the basis of Arcadian’s TEDx Talk.

“Tabletop role-playing games, with this aspect of social play and acting out characters is social play from a behavioral therapy standpoint just as in adult life,” Arcadian said. “So, by doing this we can actually find a place to practice and refine our social skills.”

Tabletop role-playing games have been around for more than 40 years. Dungeons & Dragons is a notable example, but the industry is much more than that. Games run the gamut in structure, storytelling and dedication In fact, the popularity of these games is soaring despite competition from high-tech video games.

In Columbus, board game cafes, such as Kingmakers and Tabletop Game Café, host game nights dedicated to role-playing games packed with people acting out their characters in different gaming scenarios.

Photo courtesy of TEDxOhioStateUniversity

The interactive and free-form nature of these games allows players to react in a number of ways. That variety of gameplay created an opportunity for Arcadian to share his expertise and advice for others to get the most out of their gaming experiences.

Arcadian is the leader of Gnome Stew, a multiple award-winning blog on tabletop gaming. He has authored several books on gaming advice and content and has presented as a featured speaker at the Midwest Popular Culture Association Conference.

Arcadian’s passion for creativity, gaming and sharing what he knows with others has fueled his goal to speak at TEDxOhioStateUniversity.

“It was always a dream of mine to do a TED Talk on tabletop gaming, mostly so I could get up on stage in front of a bunch of people and make silly voices,” he said.

If you can step into a character like Sean Connery’s James Bond in a game, Arcadian said, “you can get a little closer to feeling cool, calm and collected when you're actually speaking to someone, say, in an interview.”

“It’s something we all can do; we just have to practice.”

TEDxOhioStateUniversity: Hide or Seek

The 2018 TEDxOhioStateUniversity ideas worth spreading explored the theme of hide or seek.

Thirteen speakers shared their perspectives about how this three-word phrase manifests in their ideas. Some overcome adversities and others search new ways to accomplish their goals or help others.

Ohio State’s TEDx event, started in 2012. In addition to this flagship event, the TEDx community hosts smaller, more focused events. The TEDx team also works with high schools and correctional facilities to help people speak publicly and provide a vehicle to talk about their passions.

Other EHE faculty, staff and alumni have taken to the TEDx stage, including Elaine Richardson, professor of teaching and learning, alumnae Patty Cunningham (’05 MA, ’11 PhD) and Cynthia Amoah, a former EHE staffer.


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