On Kids and Gaming
Recently I read a post on Boardgame Geek’s Facebook group that got me thinking. The poster had gone to a local game shop with his two young kids (11 and 12) and felt left out because no other players made any real attempt to include them in any of the games being played. The post ended with the poster telling people to be mindful of others and to be less “cliquey.”
Which, naturally got me thinking.
Now, I have to admit that my personal experience with children and game groups is very limited. When I was more into X-Wing, we had two kids come in with their father who were probably a little bit other than the ones in the original post. Both were okay for the usual 100 point dog fights. But, when we tried to tackle something a bit larger (on one occasion it was a 300 point huge ship battle, and another it was a second Death Star run scenario), their interest in the games fell off to the point where the remaining adults ended up planning and playing all of their ships in addition to their own. Based on what I read in the original post, this happened to the two kids there as well (though I can’t be sure if it was from not being included or just being kids). It is slightly aggravating when a grown up mind starts to wander from the game, and it was a bit annoying when it happened in the games I’ve played as well.
Again, I like kids, but I can understand why some gamer groups might not want to start a game where one of the participants a pre-teen. For some, this may be their night out away from their own kids. They managed to get a sitter, or their wives are watching the young’uns, and they are looking to have a little bit of fun. Probably the last thing they would want is to, well, deal with a kid after taking steps so they don’t have to. For others, it is their time to just be themselves, something they might feel they can’t do if there is a child around. And there are a few people who might feel a little bad if they do play a game and the kid lost, even if the kid does handle it will.
Now, I don’t want this to be just a bunch of excuses for excluding children from games or anything like that. Children introduced to games will be the next generation to carry on gaming. They will be the ones as adults who will say, “Hey, remember that game Smash Up? That was a cool game,” just as many of us fondly remember games like Dark Tower or Fireball Island. So, how do we fix this problem?
First, parents need to realize that there are going to be some gamers who do not want to play with children. It’s not about being “cliquey” or anything, they just want to play games with people closer to their own age. Your child may be a prodigy and know the rules of Catan inside and out, but there will be some people who do not feel comfortable playing games with an eleven year old.
Gamers need to realize that there are some people who probably won’t make the first move when it comes to games. Hell, I often have that problem with new people and I’m actually in a Meetup group for games. Some people, no matter what age they are, just really need that one person to say to them, “Hey, we’re just getting started, want in?”
And back to the parents. There are a lot of FLGS’s out there who do try to be kid-friendly. I know a couple of the stores near me will try to maintain that by warning players if they get too loud or too inappropriate (one even has a “swear jar”). The original post mentioned it was a game night, and from the sound of it, his two kids were the only ones there. It seems to be quite logical that he could have approached the store owner and asked if there was a child friendly game day scheduled, possibly even offer to help set one up if there was not one. Again, I know there are a whole ton of safety things that may come into play.
If setting up a child game day doesn’t work, there is always Meetup and other sites that allow people to find other like-minded people. Start a “Gamers with Children” group. I would even suggest a cute gaming title like “Meeples with Mini-Meeples” or something to that effect (if you want to use that, be my guest, I don’t mind). Members can set up “events” where the children can play games together and the grown ups can join in if they want, or possibly set up their own game while the kids have fun.