Rpgnow.com had a special event this week revolving around kids and gaming. I figured I should take the time and write a bit about the subject, considering my experience this past year with rpgKids. I don’t want to write a whole essay on the subject (the truth is I’m away on business and don’t have too much time to blog right now), but I’ll give some tips and ideas based on my own experiences with my daughter from the past two years or so. Keep in mind, these tips skew towards the younger end of the spectrum, as my daughter was 4, almost 5 when we started playing together.
Don’t be too complex in your storytelling. I follow a simple formula when creating stories for my kid’s gaming session: The Dora formula. Watch any episode of Dora and you’ll see how it works. She has a map with three locations (encounters) and the goal of her adventure. That’s it, it’s as simple as that. For my rpgKids stuff, it is three encounters, and then the heroes face the bad guy. It need not be more involved than that when the kid is that young.
Keep violence to a minimum. We never kill anyone in our game. The bad guy will turn you to a frog, put you to sleep, take you prisoner, but never kill you. The heroes in our games knock out their enemies. Nobody dies. This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised.
Experiment with different types of games. Perhaps you are finding that a tactical type rpg isn’t really doing it for your kid, so go with a storytelling game instead. The “rpg for kids” field is pretty small, but growing more and more. If you look around, there are tons of games out there with varying styles that may work better for you and your children. Experiment and have fun, something is bound to click.
Have them tell the story. Kids can be fantastic storytellers if given the chance. Let them run you through a session or two! They may need help with the mechanics, but let them come up with the plots and adventures, you’ll find that what they come up with may surprise you.
Last but not least, have fun, but don’t force it. You may love rpg’s, but your kid may think they are a bore. Try to not be one of those parents that wants really hard for their kid to be like them. If they aren’t having fun, don’t force the issue. When I was young someone wanted me to really like baseball… It didn’t work.
Have fun gaming with the little ones!