There's a lot to do in the game we call life, whether that's traveling, acquiring an education, finding the right job, there's just so much to do. And with that, there're so many things that other people will tell you to do, like going to a convention, trying some exotic food, getting that tattoo you've always wanted, the list is just endless. To me, however, I believe the one thing that everyone should try, is playing a paper and pen game.
To those who don't know what exactly they are, a paper and pen game is a gigantic exercise in using your imagination. There's no screen to display it on, and sometimes there won't even be a board to help reference things; the game is only possible with your imagination. To elaborate further, one person called the Game Master, or the GM, uses a rule book for the specific game to create a story and environment that the other players can interact with.
Then, the players themselves use the rule book to create their own characters, which can vary widely based on what game you're playing. (For example, playing Dungeons and Dragons allows the players to be fantasy races, like orcs or elves. In contrast, Dark Heresy limits the players to humans, as it goes off of a more science fiction background) After the characters are made, everyone gets together with the GM, and they start the game.
Going back to what I said before, most of the time there isn't anything to help reference what's going on in the game; it's up to the GM to guide everyone and help them understand what's going on. The players, as a result, can tell the GM what they plan to do to interact with the world that the GM has created. For example, a scene may go something like this:
GM: All of you walk into the threshold of the room. The room itself is quite large, with numerous shipping crates scattered everywhere. In the center of the room, there's a huge chaos wheel carved into the steel floor, with what appear to be dead cultists on surrounding it. In the very center of the circle, you see the target of your mission, a horrible abomination of a demon, who-"
Player 1: There's a demon?! Can I run back down the stairs?
Player 2: I pull my gun out of its holster and attempt to shoot the demon.
Player 3: Wait, let's see if it's friendly first! I attempt to talk cordially to the demon.
GM: Player 3, you're an idiot.
You get the idea.
Now, the reason why I suggest everyone should play a game like this is twofold; for one, it's extremely fun. As a GM, watching your players interact with the world you've created is an amazing feeling. Watching them interact with your favorite characters that you've made and role playing how each one would actually act with the player is extremely fun and hilarious in itself. In addition, watching your players overcome all the obstacles that you've set for them fills you with a sense of pride almost, knowing that you were able to produce exhilarating challenges that the players can have fun with.
And, last but not least, it's always fun to watch them completely screw up at what they were trying to accomplish. For example, during a game that I was GMing in, I had created a stealth mission for my players to tackle, which involved the players sneaking into a building, hacking a computer to acquire files off of it, and sneaking out. Instead of sneaking, my players decided to have half of them burst in from a side door, and shoot the place up, while the other half came in from the vents as a surprise attack.
At the end of the mission, most of them were almost dead, and they almost managed to burn the building down around them. Needless to say, the mission didn't go as plan, but it was absolutely hilarious to watch.
The other reason on why everyone should play a paper and pen game is that it is a great team building exercise. For the players, they must be able to clearly communicate to each other what they plan to do, or what they think the entire team should do; without these clear communication skills, most plans tend to fall apart rather, albeit in a hilarious fashion.
In addition, if one player is being, for lack of a better term, an asshole to all the other players, that one player tends to get ostracized from the group in game and possibly from the entire game as well. For the GM, running a game also helps develop your ability to communicate clearly to everyone; the GM's job it to make sure that the players understand where exactly they are, what's around them, and what exactly they would be doing if they took a particular action. If the GM can't clearly state any of this, the game tends to descend into mass confusion...albeit in a hilarious fashion.
But when it comes down to it, playing a paper and pen game is just downright hilariously fun. To watch people screw up comically, like shooting in a pitch black room and accidentally hitting their teammate in the back of the head, leaves everyone breathless from laughter. Plus, if for some reason the players get incredibly sidetracked, the GM is at liberty to make everything up as they go along, like when the players decided they don't want to save the world, and instead open up a restaurant that only serves chicken in a town that consists of mostly vegetarians.
Regardless of what does happen in the game, most of the time progress is stalled because everyone is laughing too hard to continue, which in the end does create some fantastic memories. Which, I believe, should be the main reason why everyone should try playing a paper and pen game at least once in their lives; the type of stupid fun that comes out of playing one is almost unique, and you won't be able to find it anywhere else. And who knows, after playing just one game, there's a good possibility that you'll get hooked for a long...long time.