Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Gaming and Children

Since the boy's arrival 6 months ago, I really haven't had much time for gaming with other adults. Instead, I've been trying to corrupt Haruko, my 7-year-old daughter. She loves Flux, and I've recently introduced both her and my wife to Faery's Tale.

If you haven't seen it yet, Faery's Tale was written by Patrick Sweeney, Sandy Antunes, Christina Stiles, and Robin D. Laws. It is specifically designed for children ages 6 or older. You take on the role of a pixie, sprite, brownie or pooka, and head off for adventures in the Brightwood.

My wife is also a newbie gamer, and I thought the comparison between their reactions was interesting.

Both floundered about in the beginning, not really knowing what to do. I call this the "what can I do?" phase, where players are really too timid and afraid of doing something wrong.

My wife soon got into the swing of things, however.

Not surprisingly, Haruko had more trouble. She loved the game, but she was really most comfortable when she could follow her own little script. Every scene was the same. First she'd look for someone to talk to. Then she'd search for clues. It reminded me of the good old days...

GM: You come to a door.
Me: I check for traps...Wait, I listen at the door...OK, I try to pick the lock...

Ah, I can smell the cold pizza and flat soda, as if it where yesterday.

I suspect the open nature of the game is somewhat hard for Haruko. She'd probably love it if the game consisted of nothing but "choose your own adventure" style decisions, combined with a heavy helping of railroading to keep the plot moving. Which was hard for me, I'm all about character empowerment.

Still, I'm glad she had a good time. I'll try to make the next adventure a little more structured, and we'll see how that goes.

Has anyone else tried gaming with small children? I'd love to hear about your experiences.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally have no experience, but you'll want to ask Eero Tuovinen about Eleanor's dream. Or you can Google it. There should be some AP/playtesting posts on the Forge.

7:02 AM  
Blogger ChattyDM said...

I played an ultra-lite D&D game with my 6 year old son and 5 year old daughter.

They picked a D&D miniature and each devised a power for their character (that I translated in game terms for my own use).

My son chose a Sword and Shield fighter type and said his power was to chop up monsters real fast (extra attack)

My Daughter chose a Female Barbarian (a princess off course) and her power was to Run real fast and tackle a monster (Charge attack)

We set up on the Dungeon Tiles I have. We started in a Store whose owner asked the character for help in cleaning her cellar.

We played for about an hour, moving figurines on the map and getting attacked by spiders, rats. They Met (and ran away from) an Ogre that guarded a secret passage and they had to deal with locked doors and hidden trapdoors under rugs.

It was truly enjoyable. My daughter drifted away from the table after 40 minutes... but to be honest I'm impressed she made it that far.

We'll definitively play again, altough kids being kids, I'm probably not going to be allowed to move from the Store cellar quest for quite some time 'as this is what the game is' as my Son puts it.

8:34 AM  
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12:33 AM  

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