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Author Topic: Introducing children to gaming/roleplaying  (Read 1318 times)

willpax

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Introducing children to gaming/roleplaying
« on: March 24, 2006, 09:53:01 AM »
I am the proud father of seven and almost five year old boys, and thought it might be fun to slowly introduce them to our hobby (knowing that they will either like it or not, and not planning to force them into anything here). But I was wondering if the brain trust here had any ideas about introducing children to role playing and other gaming. Age appropriateness, genre, systems that would work well--how would you approach this issue?

I have some ideas, but I'll hold back and let things develop naturally in the thread.
Cherish those who seek the truth, but beware of those who find it. (Voltaire)

tleilaxu

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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2006, 10:25:42 AM »
Quote from: willpax
I am the proud father of seven and almost five year old boys, and thought it might be fun to slowly introduce them to our hobby (knowing that they will either like it or not, and not planning to force them into anything here). But I was wondering if the brain trust here had any ideas about introducing children to role playing and other gaming. Age appropriateness, genre, systems that would work well--how would you approach this issue?

I have some ideas, but I'll hold back and let things develop naturally in the thread.



I really loved that Dungeon board game back in the 80s. That's what I recommend. Start with the periphery stuff. Hold back on the PnP w/ books and all that. When I was a kid, that shit was a complete mystery to me, because my older brother played it, but I didn't have access to it. This made me extremely interested. So, play games that are oriented towards dorky stuff, then when they're 12 or so they'll be dying to play 'real' rpgs! :)
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CleanCutRogue

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Introducing children to gaming/roleplaying
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2006, 10:32:57 AM »
I have three children.  They all play - we do it maybe once per month as time permits.  I don't push them, and in fact often they ask if we can play and I decline because of time problems.  We play OD&D.  They're around level 2 now.  Slow progress.

My daughter - age 10 - is interested and asks to play, but is more interested in how her elf princess looks and what she's wearing to actually play much lol.  I try to give her plotlines analogous to teen romance movies - the stuff they're seeing on movies & TV.  She has recently used a tactic from one of our sessions in real life... a girl in school and her both were wanting to befriend a third girl.  They were competing for her attention.  She realized how similar this was to a plotline from our games, and had a heads-up on one possible outcome.  She and the other two are like best friends now.

My eldest son - age 8 - is VERY interested in gaming, but primarily the butt-kicking side.  He has a fighter in D&D who berserks at the drop of a hat attacking everything in sight that isn't wearing a white hat.  For him, I make the stories involve consequences of actions.  His character was in prison and he had to sit out our last session for attacking a merchant over the price of a helmet.  He cried, and it almost made me stop playing with them altogether except that he later came and told me that he was sorry and he knows it was a stupid thing to do and he won't do it again... he gets another chance now.

My youngest son - age 6 - is probably too young to understand everything.  He just doesn't want to be left out.  He doesn't write on his own sheet, and he doesn't grasp any rules.  But he has fun with his Halfling anyway.  Surprisingly, he is really good at the role-playing side of things.  He's very charismatic.  I'm hoping he develops theatrically.  I'm not sure I would have noticed this talent in him without giving him a platform from which to practice and develop.  Time will tell.
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RPGPundit

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Introducing children to gaming/roleplaying
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2006, 10:37:19 AM »
This depends... do you actually want them to be roleplayers as adults?

In that case, I would strongly advise you NOT to let them roleplay now.  Let them play with action figures, maybe even miniature games when they're a little older (like heroquest), but no matter what you don't let them play RPGs with you "Until they're 16". Make a point of saying that.

Odds are that just to defy you, around the age of 14, they'll start running their own campaigns.

Then make a big deal, when they turn 16, of inviting them to your regular gaming group.

Its a plan for the future, but I can guarantee you that its far more likely to see you roleplaying with your kids in your old age. If you start roleplaying with them now, the second they're 13 they'll see it as the "lame thing dad does" and be totally uninterested for the rest of their lives. I've seen it happen.

Whereas if you make it a forbidden fruit and a trial of manhood, they'll be hooked for life when the time comes. I've seen it work, and made it work in my own case with my younger brother (who's a decade younger than me, and now also a lifelong roleplayer).

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Maddman

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« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2006, 11:34:51 AM »
I occasionally play D&D minis with my daughter, without worrying about niggly rules too much.  She's also played Buffy a time or two, because she insisted.  Rather cute, but doesn't hold her interest very long (she's seven).

I've played with kids that age before, and a good way to handle it is to let them play a henchmen or something.  They get to sit at the table and roll the dice with the big people, but it's no loss when they run off to do something else.  I don't think I would do that again though - my games tend toward adult matter these days.  I mean we're not rolling a d20 to see who gets to lead the mantrain or anything, but things like sex and drugs do come up often, and may not be appropriate for children.  I'm not exactly a prude about this stuff, but I don't want us to feel like we need to censor ourselves.

I like RPGPundit's approach myself.  Introduce them to the hobby and encourage them to play on their own, but don't invite them to join until they are adults, or very nearly.  To be honest when your kid is 14 there's little chance that they're going to be interested in the same kind of gaming as you anyway.
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el-remmen

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« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2006, 12:18:33 PM »
I hightly recommend the Dungeon boardgame.

I got it when I was 9 or 10 and it was a total gateway drug.
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2006, 01:59:21 PM »
The trick is to let them borrow your books by the time they're about 12 or 13, and absolutely torture them with stories about how awesome your campaign is.  Absolutely do not cave from the "16" deadline (or whatever age you initially set the deadline), or they'll think they beat you and lose interest.

Encourage them to start their own campaigns with their friends if they want to, and show an interest in how their game is going, but always with a touch of patronizing atmosphere, as if to imply that the "adult" game you're running is so much cooler.

God, how I warped my brother's mind. :D

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Reefer Madness

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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2006, 05:09:45 PM »
kids watching can get a feel for things, then some cases they want to bring friends, have to be careful of that of you might get a angry visit with parents who want to know what strange games your playing with their kids...
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Silverlion

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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2006, 05:40:59 PM »
I used the now long OOP Marvel Saga game. The superhero theme, the cards color coding and imagery all aided in simplifying the speed of play (never mind that I learned not much older--8 to play Basic D&D, but it seems Marvel Saga clicked far better with my nephew and neice now 10 and 7..but they've been playing a while..) fortunatly their parents are gamers (mostly WOD so my neice calls pc's "garous" its adorable.)
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fett527

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« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2006, 11:40:18 PM »
I plan on playing Hero Quest...



...wiht my 9 year old nephew when I can make the time.  I played this with my brother, he's 8 years younger than I am, and we had a blast.  I plan on showing by example on roleplay.
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Thanuir

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« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2006, 06:51:47 AM »
A tangential thread with interesting links. People have roleplayed with kids the age of four, so no worries.

willpax

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« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2006, 10:28:32 AM »
Thanks. I had actually had one idea--to take their normal play with Star Wars figures and add a "to hit" mechanic with some dice. That would be a simple enough start with something they are already playing with. I'll look into HeroQuest. The role playing/imagination side seems to be developing nicely.

I don't think I would ever include my kids in my own adult game, at least so long as they are kids.
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tleilaxu

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« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2006, 01:08:04 PM »
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Dr Awkward

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« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2006, 12:13:15 PM »
Quote from: willpax
I am the proud father of seven and almost five year old boys, and thought it might be fun to slowly introduce them to our hobby (knowing that they will either like it or not, and not planning to force them into anything here). But I was wondering if the brain trust here had any ideas about introducing children to role playing and other gaming. Age appropriateness, genre, systems that would work well--how would you approach this issue?


This is one of my favorite subjects.  I have two daughters, ages nine and seven, who have roleplayed since they were six and four.  I started them with Teenagers From Outer Space, and we've played D&D, Bunnies and Burrows, and Pumpkin Town since then.  Right now, they want to try the Men In Black RPG, and someday I'll get around to that.

One thing you really should consider is joining Sam Chupp's Yahoo group on the subject: http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/kids-rpg/  There, you'll find lots of discussion on everything you mention above.  Right now, there's a great discussion going on about non-combat scenarios.

I've also been cooking up a section of my site to compile info for adults looking to bring their kids into roleplaying - it's still not ready for release, but keep looking for it at http://www.theescapist.com

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flyingmice

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« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2006, 09:34:02 AM »
My son has been playing since forever. I started him off by reading to him with a different voice for each character. Then as he got older I'd play with him with his action figures (Ninja Turtles) where he's make up wild stories and all the figures would talk. Then he went on to RPG-like games like Hero Quest and Dungeon and some Star Wars thing. When he was about ten, he began playing D&D while we were on camping trips. Then we started playing regularly. Now at 19, he's co-authored four of my games and supplements.

My only advice is never to push, just lead by example.

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