In 1982, when I was just starting the 7th grade, I met up with a group of people who were playing Dungeons and Dragons. We played a lot over the next few years. And there were few boundaries.

We took on Tiamat, the Queen of Dragons, and killed her just to take her loot. Yes, so we might have been a bit bloodthirsty and the mighty haul was enough to keep us entertained. Perhaps it’s the bifocals I wear now as an adult, but I look back fondly on those days.

But here’s the thing. Nobody taught us how to play. We just kind of… figured it out as we went along. We were all bright, curious pre-teen and teenagers. Our parents allowed us (in a time when such a thing as D&D was linked to devil worship and suicide) the freedom to explore the boundaries of our imaginations. I don’t think we ever found them, but damn if we didn’t try.

Now I’m much older and have two little girls. They’re cute and bright and love playing games. The night that I dug out my old Dungeon! board game to play with them and my wife, I think I opened up a door to a new world. My style of parenting is a bit more open than many other parents I know. I will sit and watch movies like Shaun of the Dead, Wanted, and Legend with them even though it’s a few years off that they’ll even come close to PG-13. So when we go through and gather treasure and kill monsters in Dungeon!, we’re still pushing barriers and expanding their imaginations…

I have no idea how I’m going to get them playing roleplaying games. But you know what? I’m dying to try. My youngest is starting kindergarten this year and will be reading soon… My eldest is entering 4th grade and reading at a 6th or 7th grade level already – so they’re both going to be quick learners I think.

The thing is… Should I introduce them to roleplaying? Or do I let them learn on their own? Will I pass along my own prejudices for particular rules systems and settings? Will they get stuck in certain ruts as I do in particular roles sometimes? What’s the downside?

The upside of course is… I know what they’re playing. I can answer questions as they come up. And I get to play along with them. Ultimately I’m just a big kid. I know this. My wife knows this. We’ve all accepted it.

So I guess to heck with it… Soon we’ll be having family game nights that won’t involve Chutes & Ladders or Candyland… Maybe the girls will see it in their hearts to dare attack Tiamat’s lair!?

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This article has 2 comments

  1. Mark Reply

    By all means, give them the introduction. Either they will take to it or they will not. As for prejudices, don’t most teenagers explore beyond the limits imposed by parents? As they age, they will explore beyond the boundaries of your own experiences. Prior to that, they, as players, will likely break some of your own. Kids have a great way of adjusting adults to a different point of view. Run a game they’d enjoy. Keep being open-minded and they’ll soon have you running something you never considered. Or at least I’ll wager a copper on it.
    Mark´s last blog post ..Leather Kids Cuirass Nearing Completion

    • Fitz

      @Mark – Thanks. I appreciate the perspective. And you are definitely right. They’ll either go for it or they won’t. Gaming isn’t for everybody. Hopefully they have that geek gene however. :)

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