We’re honored to have our friend Flippy join us with a guest article about gaming with children:
How to Create Memories Your Child Will Remember Fondly and Develop His or Her Imagination, without Spending a Fortune
The answer sounds simple at first, playing an RPG game with him or her. However, there are a few simple things you can do to make the game a truly memorable experience.
1. Adapt the game to your child’s level
There is no reason to apply every rule from an RPG book to a session with your child. Feel free to adapt or discard too complex rules. For example, when I role play with small children, instead of using the rules for calculating exact numbers like running distances or total mass a character can carry, I just go by feeling. Another rule I disregard are initiative rolls. By not using them, the game obtains a faster pace. I just allow my players to act first and opponents second.
Obviously, you are the best person to decide how to adapt a game for your child and how exactly.
2. Allow your child to create unique characters
Character creation rules are much more flexible than you think and having your child create the character he or she really wants to be is an experience that he or she will remember for years. This is especially true if it’s his or her first character.
For example, Hujraad Johaansen, the creator of the HiBRiD Role Playing Game, has a daughter that loves manatees. Tiny Horsies, the game they played, doesn’t have rules for manatees, so they just took the stats for a pegacorn (a unicorn with wings) and gave them to a manatee who could fly with kinetic powers. They also replaced the Dark Energy Ray that it would have shot from a unicorn horn with a fart gas attack. Hujraad’s other son, transformed his Terra (a strong horse) into a wolf and instead of a Fire Energy Ray, the character just shot fire hadoukens. You can bet that those characters are going to stay in their memories far longer than any standard warrior or wizard.
3. Have your child draw his or her character
This was an idea of the publisher of my RPG, not mine, but it was a great one. Children love to draw and color their characters and compare them. And if your child doesn’t want to draw their character, he or she will when the other children start to draw theirs. Drawing characters also results in a stronger attachment and a character your child will care a lot about. And honestly, it helps everybody else to have an image of what the character looks like.
You can also suggest to your child to color or decorate any part of his or her character sheet. That’s what the daughter of Rob Easton, SF&F/horror writer and avid role player, did and the result was a character sheet that deserves to be framed:
4. Make it more about you being with your child than about the game
Ok, I know that this point sounds very ambiguous, but if you’re a parent, you know what I’m talking about. I think I’ll let Kurt, the host of the MFGCast podcast, explain it himself:
“I love roleplaying with my son. It teaches him to not only open up his creative mind, but also his calculating mind. It opens him up to thinking of endless possibilities, while also questioning life and its choices. Plus, it gives us a common bond of a piece of art that’s near and dear to my heart. That’s what it means to me.”
Finally, I just want to point out that there are lots of great and inexpensive RPGs for children and kids in the market, costing as low as $5 dollars in PDF version or $10 in printed form. Some good options are No Thank You, Evil!, Mermaid Adventures, RpgGamerKids (created by my pal, RPG Gamer Dad), and of course, Tiny Horsies.
When not busy mixing his whites with colors, Flippy works as a writer, translator, and language teacher. In his free time, he plays video games, takes photos, and writes funny stuff. He wrote Tiny Horsies, a tabletop RPG for children and parents that focuses on relationships, problem solving, and cooperation, and which you can find on DrivethruRPG.com