Introducing Bodhana’s own Heroes of the Game, representing the 8 key skill sets of our therapeutic game programs. Designed by the amazing artists Tori Hepler and Jeremy Thilo of Toriborealis Pictures & Goods, these heroes embody the affable and nurturing nature of the tabletop community, each representing a fundamental skill set that is inherent through participating in tabletop games.

HEROES OF THE GAME

mISTER mEEPLE

The Champion of Social Skills with the Smile for Miles!

Social Skills

  • Building Relationships

  • Social Cues and Interactions

  • Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication

 
Mister Meeple is the shining paragon of the gaming world. With cape flowing he believes everyone is equal, treating everyone with fairness, justice and equality. Using super social skills, Mister Meeple wishes to make the world a better place. His super-hearing helps him listen to others, seeking to understand and empathize with them. His voice speaks with truth and compassion, recognizing the power of words. He is vigilant and pays attention to the world around him, creating a sense of community everywhere he goes. Mister Meeple is a role model of how we treat each other, both in the game and in life.

 

Gaming is a social activity. Whether it is a role playing game party of five, four friends sitting around a board game, or two people engaged in a card game, the tabletop hobby is first and foremost a way to engage with others. We learn to interact with others through playing the game itself. Something as simple as learning the rules together gives people a chance to talk and negotiate, learning more about the players.  A lot of our culture is about sharing and creating stories. Going through an adventure at the table creates an experience that no one else can fully relate to, creating a bond between people. Dealing with different personality types help people learn to communicate effectively and work together to achieve a common goal. Even in a competitive game, everyone wants to have a good time playing the game.

 

So, if games are inherently social, why do we need “therapeutic” games when we can just play and get the same benefit? Consider the possibilities:

 

The person who loves all things pop culture, but is nervous speaking in large groups or engaging in small talk. A social game like Geek Out or a storytelling game like Once Upon a Time can offer a new way for that person to socialize in an area that they feel confident. The Bodhana Group helps facilitate those opportunities by offering social game programs built around compassion and inclusivity.

 

Now, let’s say that same person has more than a general anxiety about speaking up. Now they have a

severe social anxiety or social skills deficiency that impacts their day-to-day life. This is where more focused, private game groups come into play. In form of group therapy, role playing games are especially useful for targeting specific behaviors or communication barriers. A group built around persons with severe social anxiety can begin online via chat, video conferencing, or virtual tabletop programs like Roll20. Working together towards the goal of meeting in person in a private environment, then a game store, then graduating to attending a convention together. That journey can change the way someone connects with the world, forever growing their community one interaction at a time.

 

Another social perk of gaming that we all benefit from is the chance to be someone else. You can be a Ghostbuster, Sherlock Holmes, or a Pretty, Pretty Princess in games that invite you to step into the shoes of your character and go along for the ride. Conversely, you can create your own characters bound only by your imagination and the roll of the dice. Characters that come to have meaning for you as you guide them through a world with different rules than your own, offering unique experiences that you wouldn’t otherwise encounter. These characters offer a vehicle for social rehearsal in a safe space. If your character gets rejected, it isn’t you, but you are invested enough to figure out why they were rejected and learn to adapt. This safe space leads to creating new patterns that may lead to more self-confidence, increased ability, and better communication.  

 

So the next time you’re feeling like a fish out of water, or just need an icebreaker to distract your nerves, break out a game and connect with your inner Mister Meeple! 

Christa

The world of tomorrow is built on the foundations of today. 

Education Skills

  • Math

  • Social Studies

  • Reading & Writing

 
Christa is a genius with science and technology, understanding she needs to learn the basics before moving on to the hard stuff. Through careful attention to her studies, Christa can do wonderful things by developing her brain. Knowing how to work with numbers, she makes sure that everything adds up to success. Reading and comprehension helps her learn about new opportunities, share ideas, and understand the world around her.
 
Gaming in almost every aspect is about learning.  It starts with the rules.  You need comprehension to interpret the rules from the page to the table.  Games help build skills in any domain from matching colors and counting for the simpler introduction games all the way up to higher end math like resource management and even larger strategy for war games.  Role playing games specifically have been known to encourage higher level reading skills.  A lot of the sourcebooks for role playing games and some board games have historical settings that include accurate information about the time period, teaching aspects of the culture at the time like trade and resource management.  Whether you're focusing on the basics or higher level brain functioning skills, games are a fun window to learning, where your classroom can be set in any place or time.
 

Math
From a very young age, most of us are exposed to games that help us learn the foundations of math. Learning to count is the first step in learning to measure our world. Identifying shapes leads us to a deeper perception of space and design. Mastering basic arithmetic creates building blocks of understanding how math is present in every aspect of our lives.  
 
Luckily, nearly all tabletop games inherently allow you to hone those math skills. If you keep score in a game, you’re practicing arithmetic. As the banker in Monopoly, a lot of older siblings got a lesson in embezzlement, too, but that’s a different article.  The greatest benefit of utilizing games to practice math skills is the application. Games allow you to apply the ever-increasing complex concept of numbers, shapes, and equations in ways that not only make sense but personalizes those concepts. The ability to see theory in action makes math less intimidating and more intriguing.
 
For beginners, traditional games like Uno and Dominoes supply endless opportunities to practice basic counting and arithmetic. With it’s big, colorful cards, Uno helps in identifying numbers, counting, and pattern recognition. Dominoes teaches identifying numbers by pips, requiring the player to count the pips in order to know what number they have to play. Again, this game also heavily involves pattern recognition, as well as spatial awareness. All of the official Uno and Dominoes variations aside, these are ideal games to customize to your needs, meaning you can alter rules easily without breaking the game (making it unplayable).
 
  • Each number card you lay in Uno, you must add, subtract, or multiply the previous number laid.

  • Learn sequential numbers by having players lay out cards in a row, in order from 0-9. Mix colors or allow one color at a time, utilizing wild cards to change the color in the middle of a sequence. Once a sequence has been completed, gather the cards and start a new row, with the next person who has a 0 or wild card determining the color.

  • Create individual trains or shapes with Dominoes using a set total pip value. For example: If the total pip value allowed is 200, players must create something using the amount of dominoes required to reach, but not exceed 200 points.

  • War with Dominoes can be played by each player flipping one domino at a time, yelling out the total number of pips. When they match, players flip 3 dominoes and the highest total of the three wins.

 
Building on the basics and beyond, there are many games that integrate math skills of all levels in ways that utilize math as a game mechanic or method of playing the game. This allows the fun of the game and the interaction to be the focus. Players actively building skills in an environment that appeals to them helps to remove the stress that can accompany learning challenges. Here’s a small example of games and the skills they improve:

  • King of Tokyo

    • Basic Addition and Subtraction

    • Resource Management

  • Marvel Legendary

    • Advanced Addition and Subtraction

    •  Complex Calculations and Sequencing

  • Prime Climb

    • Advanced Arithmetic

    • Color Coding System

  • Mutant Meeple

    • Spatial Reasoning

    • Logic and Puzzle Solving

 
Reading and Writing
When we ask our fellow gamers how this hobby has improved their lives, the most common story we hear is how role playing games got them to read. When they were required to read in school, they struggled to pay attention or connect to the material. When they discovered role playing games, a new world opened up to them, literally, in the form of a role playing book. These books are designed to engage players in a world filled with adventure and mystery, all with a rich backstory complete with people, places, animals, and items. Descriptions are detailed, including everything from what the clothing looks like for the time period, what kind of materials or technology are available, maps illuminating the world and your place in it. These books nurture a love of reading that inspires confidence in the classroom.  
 
When beginning a role playing game campaign, players are often encouraged to create their own character’s origin story and how they fit in with the party. This creative writing exercise immerses the player in their character, using statistics and context to deepen their connection to the story. Players learn the importance of taking notes while the story develops, as some sessions may be weeks apart. They also learn from each other. Players are exposed to different writing styles or interpretations of text that work to increase their writing abilities.  
 
For those not into the role playing scene, there is no shortage of board and card games that teach reading skills. From the classics like Scrabble and Boggle to more modern games like Codenames and Rory’s Story Cubes, games teach us not only new words but how to use those words. Tell a story in Once Upon a Time, define words in Balderdash, build words in Bananagrams, listen to clues and use deductive reasoning in Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. Learning more about words and how to express them increases confidence in communication, opening more opportunities to grow in life.

Sagan

Billions and billion of strategies…for small meeples such as we the vastness is bearable only through games.

Critical Thinking Skills

  • Analysis & Evaluation

  • Deductive Reasoning

  • Resource Management

The sly Sagan is the cleverest of the heroes. Sagan knows how to think on his feet and comes up withcomplex and creative solutions to unique problems.  Everything the ninja fox does helps him navigate the world. Judging distances as he springs from branch to branch through the trees. Piecing together the clues to solve the mysteries of the world. Using his brain to find the safest way through the toughest problem, foxy Sagan can analyze a situation to keep him safe from danger and win the day!
 
Gaming is a fun activity that helps exercise your ability to think through situations in very creative ways. Whether you’re strategizing your way across the board or in a role playing campaign, the game is all about solving problems. A lot of games have a complex or fluid strategic element where traditional thinking is not going to be enough. Carcassonne, for example, has the basic structure of laying down tiles, but within that is the placement of your Meeples, the decision of allocating resources for roads, farmland, or city spaces. You can play a quick point game by completing smaller cities and roads, or play the long game by fighting for farmland and larger territories. If you’re playing with the dragon, you may find yourself adjusting your strategy to simply prevent yourself and your game mates from flipping the table.
 
Role playing games open up many options for exploring methods of critical thinking because building unique challenges into the story is part of the fun. Not only do you have enemies to fight, you also have traps, puzzles, and mysteries that are resolved by talking through them together. When five characters are faced with a common enemy, those players just learned four new ways to approach that situation. By broadening our perspective, we increase our chance for success because we understand more about the world around us. Then we roll the dice and all of our careful planning goes to hell, forcing us to adjust again. Good times!
 

Alice

The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. ~ Neil Gaiman

Creative Skills

  • Self-Expression

  • Storytelling

  • Manual Dexterity

 
The spirit of the Old West is wild in this rodeo girl!  She can sit by the fire and tell tall tales or strum a guitar and sing a fireside song.  She can spin her lasso in the air and create any image you need, painting pictures in rope.  She lets her voice sound out loud, showing everyone who she is, proudly and with a lot of flourish!  She is hard to miss, and harder to forget. 
 
Games allow players to try a variety of creative skills, exposing them to methods of self-expression that they may not have been aware of or have always wanted to try. This is the heart of Alice. She understands that when we keep hitting the same roadblocks in life, sometimes all we need is a new approach, a new perspective. With games that feature writing, drawing, acting, singing, sculpting, building terrains, and painting figures, the world of tabletop games provides endless opportunities for discovering new paths. 
 
When it comes to role playing, the basic art of making a character is an act of creativity. Players are making up names, backstories, and physical descriptions. Some players draw their characters or their items. Some write spells, songs, and poems. Some create maps, costumes, and props. Creating adventures and challenges for players is a highly creative activity where you not only have to plan for your story, you also have to plan for the other people who are going through the adventure.
 
The irony that Alice, our Hero of Creativity, has a "catchphrase" that is actually a quote by Neil Gaiman, is not lost on me. After living with Alice in my head for the last year, I honestly could not think of a better way to sum up what Alice is all about. His words capture her spirit perfectly. Who am I to mess with perfection?
 

Rowe

Critical hits will come and go 
Some are weal and some are woe 
Pick up your dice and continue your rolls 
For those that roll on are the true heroes

Resiliency Skills

  • Life Skills

  • Coping Skills

  • Adaptability

Whether it is in the deepest darkest dungeons, or on the glorious field of battle, Rowe stands firm. If he ever gets knocked down, you can be sure, he’ll get back up.  Never quit, never give up is his motto! When things happen that he doesn't expect, he sticks it out with determination and moves on to the next challenge!  Whether it’s a bigger bad guy, or a critical die roll, the dwarf always knows how to stay in the fight and rise to the occasion! 
 
Resiliency is a rarely thought about skill area that games develop. Think about it, you try to pick a lock or make an attack. The die does not roll in your favor. You need to be able to go with the story and deal with the un-luck of the die. As a player, you might have a great plan in mind, but the story might throw your plan out the window. We learn how to deal with change, and also deal with losing. This gives great education in dealing with adversity that can cross over from the table to life. There are some games that have scenarios built in and the challenge is in managing to defeat the challenge. Setting the board back up and trying again helps teach us not to give up in a real life situation.

 

TESLA

Initiative

  • Independent Thinking

  • Rational Persistence

  • Risk vs. Reward

Tesla is our steampunk pirate of adventure, braving the perilous waters of chance, representing the courage to cross the unknown terrain, build the better mousetrap, or live a life of intention all begins with developing that sense of initiative. Initiative propels us forward and keeps us moving and improving.
 
Tabletop games offer a hands-on approach to learning initiative. Problem solving creates confidence. Developing and observing player strategy increases perspective. Workshopping real-life concepts inside the safe space of a game encourages growth and the evolution of ideas. Stories and art ignite the imagination, inspiring players to create and communicate.

Metta

Empathy

  • Authentic Listening

  • Emotional Intelligence

  • Cognitive vs Emotional Empathy

Metta, our wizard of empathy, takes you on a journey of discovery through tabletop games.
 
Metta, the word and the hero, embodies the idea that love and compassion can be explored through one’s willingness to see the world from another's point of view.  When you take the time to understand people through their perspective, you are able to form a stronger connection to your world. This helps you to proceed with compassion, fellowship, and respect.
 
Metta invites you to step into the shoes of people from history to gain perspective on challenging conditions. Board games that take you from exploring our world in Lewis and Clark: The Expedition, creating government in Founding Fathers, to standing up to that government in Freedom: The Underground Railroad.  Play through the eyes of a Russian orphan in Fiasco: Children Homes, a storytelling game written by Russian orphans to increase awareness of their struggle and plight. Experience the struggle of people who have limited expression with games that limit your communication like Magic Maze and Hanabi.
 
Role playing games offer an endless universe of fictional and non-fictional worlds. Delve into storylines featuring superpowers, mystery, dangerous encounters, and even fluffy stuffed animals.  Spend a few hours in character as a noble hero, fearless underdog, or actual dog in Pugmire! Research your timeline to see what clothing you characters might wear, what technology may or may not be available, what past decisions have led to this moment. The possibilities are endless!

Hawk

Dexterity & Coordination

  • Manual Dexterity

  • Refined Motor Skills

  • Movement Awareness

Hawk knows the key to life is balance! Tabletop games generally involve lots of sitting, so it’s great to get up from the table and physically interact with your games!
 
Floor and table games that require dexterity encourage players to add a physical component to their strategy. Dexterity games open up opportunities to explore the application of physics when you strategically drop your monster on a city block in the game Rampage (or Terror in Meeple City). Players need to consider the immediate and future effects their destruction will trigger when wooden meeples and cardboard buildings go scattering based on the height and speed of their drop. Games like Flick ‘em Up and Disc Duelers increase manual dexterity and focus simply by flicking discs through fun environments and obstacles. Dungeon Fighter and Junk Art require careful balance and analysis before each move. Social icebreaker games like Happy Salmon and Cash ‘n Guns Live get players up, moving, and interacting. Dexterity games are games that have people standing and pacing, breathless in anticipation of the outcome.