Most people play games like Dungeons & Dragons to get away from their problems. But Megan Hardy isn’t most people. She used it to solve hers.
When her husband was laid off in 2016, she signed up to teach D&D classes on Outschool, an online learning platform for kids up to age 18. Hardy told TNW “I was just trying to think of some way to make ends meet. I thought maybe a handful of kids would be interested.” She was wrong in the best possible way.
Hardy’s classes were an instant hit and proved incredibly popular with both children and parents. Her favorite hobby turned side-gig quickly became a full-time, six-figure income job. And now, 248 completed classes later, she’s putting her husband through college.
We talked to her to find out how to quit our jobs and make six figures rolling dice and imitating dragon noises too. But, as it turns out, it’s not about the money, the job, or any of those surface-deep things for Hardy or her students. She told TNW:
These kids, they’re from every walk of life. I work with special needs students who learn how to open up and participate through D&D. It’s amazing to see the difference in some of these kids from when a class begins to how they’re interacting by the time the course ends.
Her classes aren’t just fun and games. She uses D&D to teach math, reading, and problem solving. Some of her students learn differently than average children and her classes provide an alternate form of education they can’t get anywhere else. Others struggle with social anxiety and feeling included, but Hardy says her classes not only encourage teamwork, they build friendships that last long after the dragons have been slain and the course is over.
Hardy told us:
I’ll get emails from parents who tell me about how close their kids have become, some of them live in different countries from each other. I have a lot of kids who meet for the first time in one of my classes and end up taking future courses as a group so they can keep playing together.
Typically Dungeons & Dragons is played by groups of players in-person, but the Outschool learning platform’s student-teacher interface allows Hardy to use purpose-built software to emulate the tabletop experience. Her students also have access to D&D Beyond, a digital resource for the game. But for the most part, all they need is an open mind and an internet connection.
According to Hardy:
The thing about D&D is that it teaches a lot of things without feeling like a lesson. It’s a stress-free way of learning for these kids. I feel like it’s made for students … Outschool also makes it really easy to focus on the lessons. If I can navigate it, anyone can navigate it.