Utilizing Online Table-Top Roleplaying Games to Build Resilience and Coping Skills in LGBTQ+ Youth

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The Ohio State University

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and other sexual and/or gender minority (LGBTQ+) adolescents are at increased risk for mental health issues as a result of the stressors they are exposed to due to their LGBTQ+ identities. This stress— resulting from factors such as prejudice; individual, interpersonal, and institutional discrimination; and microaggressions—can also have negative effects on their overall wellbeing. This pilot feasibility and evaluation study adapted a table-top roleplaying game (similar to Dungeons and Dragons) to fit themes relative to the struggles of LGBTQ+ youth in an online format. The game magnifies and personifies themes like anxiety, depression, internalized stigma, and discrimination (both interpersonal and structural). Players collectively learn and implement relevant coping mechanisms to overcome these challenges. The study found that adapting an LGBTQ+ focused table-top roleplaying game to an online format was feasible and acceptable to participants and that the game is effective at its objectives, indicating significant changes for most outcomes of interest; results indicate that resilience and coping skills increased while risk factors decreased. While more research is needed to validate preliminary outcomes, this pilot study confirmed the potential for online table-top roleplaying games to reach a wide audience and help reduce risk factors while building resilience and coping skills in minoritized adolescent populations.



coping skills, LGBTQ+, table-top roleplaying game, resilience