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The Kids Are Alright: Gaming with the Next Generation

August 1, 2012


My gaming group is made up primarily of folks that are 35+. Two of the guys have had their children play with us–one with a son who played with us before he graduated high school and moved on and another with a son just entering his teen years who is playing with us now. It’s quite a interesting experience looking at the game through new eyes when the “youngsters” come to the table.

One thing I’ve noticed, and it may very well be a generational thing, is that it seems like the younger guys tend to approach the adventures not at the story-level, but at a meta-game level. Almost as they would a video game. The equation tends to be “I must do X for the Y to achieve Z”–find the Big Boss, achieve the next level, etc. It could be a indication of age and game maturity. It could be their gaming experience–almost entirely video game-oriented, in which storytelling is often relegated to cut screens that you desperately hit X to get through to keep hacking. It’s not necessarily a bad thing–but a different one.

In hindsight, I guess I’m simply assuming that “storytelling = maturity”. In reality, it’s just a different style of gaming. It all depends on what you’re trying to get out of the game. For myself, it’s always been about the roleplaying, the story. For others–and it could just be that our young folks happen to fall into this camp–it’s about the metagame. It’s about gaming the system and the strategy behind that. The classic “left brain/right brain”, creativity vs. crunch, debate.

Another interesting thing to note is the frustration that sometimes springs from the younger folks making “newbie” mistakes or coming at things from an angle that old-school gamers such as the rest of the group wouldn’t do. No one wants their character to be put at risk over such missteps and sometimes we feel like we need to “school” the guys into playing “right”. But it occurs to me that what these mistakes do is remind us that this is, in fact, still a game. And sometimes it presents a challenge to us old timers to think our way out of the situations created by such “noob” errors–a challenge that can actually make the game more fun. Further, I think the youngsters may actually learn more if they make these mistakes unfettered and have to roll with it like the rest of us.

At any rate, it’s been interesting and educational. And something I’d recommend you let happen in your group if you get the opportunity. The kids are alright–just let them play and let the dice fall where they may.

From → Ramblings

  1. it is very hard for me to find people my age to game with for that reason, It is hard to find people my age who won’t treat the game like a video game. It doesn’t help when the “mainstream” rpgs are catering to them. It is a cooperative storytelling game. Stop trying to win.

    IDK. Maybe I have a lot of bad experiences.

    • I am encouraged by a lot of “old-school” style games that are emerging, like Hackmaster and Dungeon Crawl Classics. And then games like Fiasco that are pure storytelling are pretty exciting too. I think there are younger folks (*he says like he’s ancient*) that are looking for a storytelling experience as well. It’s just a matter of finding them.

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