Reverb Gamers: Including The Kids

Question #5: Have you ever introduced a child to gaming, or played a game with a young person? How is gaming with kids different than gaming with adults?

Well, when I started playing, we were all kids...

One of my current gaming groups has a guy in it who's just gone 14. Campaign started when he was 13, and it's his first. I'd put his level of maturity about level with the rest of the group, to be honest, and the rest of us are in our 30s and 40s. One of the other players is his mother. I reckon that once you pass a certain threshold of attention span, and the kid is actually interested, you've no real problem. You have to watch the content a bit, but that happens with adult players just as much. Indeed, I've had adult players - thankfully only in the short term - who were way less mature.

I had a player in a D&D game, for instance - 3.0, 3.5 or thereabouts, who wanted to play Drizzt. He even wanted to call him that. I explained that drow were somewhat different in my setting, had different names, and didn't have the pifwaffel and baklava, or whatever the magical cloak and so forth Drizzt has are. He said he was ok with this, and then proceeded to whine unmercifully for four or five sessions about how the drow weren't right in my world, and the rules wouldn't let him do things Drizzt did, and what was with this matriarchal stuff anyway. The last one mystifies me a bit; it's one of the few bits of the drow culture I kept. So he wasn't exactly the most mature.

And then there are convention games, where you may well be confronted with a kid who can just about see over the table, but who plays really well, and at a same table, an over-caffeinated 30-something guy whose reaction to everything is "I stab it!" and who seems to still have trouble reading the dice.

Obviously, there are content issues. I wouldn't be comfortable dealing with sexual content, or horror-movie levels of violence at the table with a kid there. But the adult players wouldn't be terribly happy about that either, in some cases, and I grade that level of content very carefully depending on what everyone's comfortable with and wants out of the game. Dealing with a kid is no different to dealing with a player who's squicked by the notion of eyes being damaged, or doesn't want to hear about atrocities perpetrated by the bad guys in any detail.

I've run games, very occasionally, and mostly when I was in my teens, for younger kids, and then it's a matter of attention span. They're not interested in anything for more than half an hour, at best, and even then sitting around a table talking about stuff you're doing is a lot less fun than doing it. Not something I'd have the patience for or interest in on a longer-term basis. But again, there've been adults who fit those criteria...

So overall, I don't see a major difference. You adjust your games to your players, and age is just another factor to consider.

Posted by Drew Shiel at January 13, 2012 12:17 PM

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