Amanda Valentine raises some great points about reaching out to the younger players at GoD. We experimented a bit…

Amanda Valentine raises some great points about reaching out to the younger players at GoD. We experimented a bit with adding rating levels (mature, kid friendly, etc.) to the game menus this year, but I’d be very interested to hear more ideas about how to address this issue. Extra points if you want to step up and help make it happen!

Originally shared by Amanda Valentine

Tweens fall into their own weird category of gamers where they’ve outgrown kid games for the most part but don’t quite have the self control to handle some of the etiquette expected at adult tables. Some thoughts on the difference between “all ages” and “kid friendly.”
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  1. Matt Boersma and I would be willing to run kid-friendly games in appropriate slots for next year’s GenCon, and Krista White had expressed some interest in a long-form kid-friendly game as well.  (ref:

    I think designating some spots/games as kid-friendly would constitute an explicit invitation to parents of young gamers; for some folks bringing their tween/teen to the table isn’t an issue but others are very much aware that gaming is not always a place where kids are welcomed.

    As a parent of a proto-gamer, I think this would be something really neat and I’d like to see it happen.   I’d be willing to help with organization.  There are always a lot of extra caveats that come with doing events for kids, so we’ll probably want to do some brainstorming (for example, are we bringing parents to the gaming table too?  Are we doing a kids’ game at the table next to a parents’ game?  Are we requiring our kid players to be over a certain age or have a parent present (GenCon requires “children” to be accompanied by an adult and considers anyone under 8 to not need a badge unless they’re playing, but do we want to be responsible for someone’s 8 year old while they go hit the exhibit hall?)

    We can make this happen, and it would be super cool to be welcoming to young gamers too — I think bringing them into an environment that strives to be welcoming and harassment-free will help produce more fun, friendly, and accepting gamers.

  2. From GoD’s perspective, I believe there are a few things we could do (this is not exhaustive nor all that detailed).

    Most of it is making sure our GMs indicate what age ranges they are comfortable running for, what the age ranges are for each game.

    Reserving a few time slots during the day when “younger games” trump the other games. Hosts decide if a GM has two games and one is not for “younger” players, then only the “younger game” is available.

    Having a schedule of games on offer at each time slot. This helps parents plan a bit more (and solves other problems). Of course the caveat is always expectation management.

    Work out a procedure for GMs to help those at the table uncomfortable with “young” players find a different game.

    There is likely some table wrangling regarding where GMs should sit (mature-only should be sate further away from Y7-only GMs).

    I think Matt Boersma, Scott Acker, and Nykki B may have some additional insights.

  3. I run kid-friendly games for kids of my friends now and again so I’m game to do a table or two.

    I think if we want people doing this we might want to have some game suggestions when the call for GMs goes out. Some folks might be willing to help (or try at home!) and just not know what might or might not work super-well.

    We also might want to publicize this and work with some of the kid-activities at the con. Without that we may not get a ton of people showing up that are looking for this to fill tables.

    I know a number of parent-GMs who might have further suggestions (I’ll plus super geek dad Nick Wedig in here too as he runs stuff for/with his girls and may have more pro suggestions and input).

  4. I may have more comments later, but I like the idea of a kids table with next door parents table.

  5. If we could pair up GM’s and coordinate then we could run a “buffer zone” with a parent table next to a kids’ table (or two), which would give the adult gamers some space. 

  6. So I was thinking of this from the other side of the age spectrum. There are games at Games on Demand that have a tendancy to drive the narrative towards ‘dark’ and/or ‘sexual’. Monsterhearts leaps to mind. 

    While a 16yr old maybe ‘old enough’ to explore those narrative, it’s very very awkward when they’re playing at a table with significantly older players. There’s something decidedly uncomfortable about being a 30+yr old grown man having to pretend to put a ‘sex move’ on a 16yr old girl that he met 20min ago.

    I spent a lot of time after the Con thinking of about this, unfortunately the problem I keep coming back to is: How do we enforce age requirement?

    Are we going to card a teenager and then embarrass them by saying “Sorry kid, You’re too young for this game. Come back in a couple years”

    It’s been a while since I’ve been a teenager but I remember enough to know I’d be humiliated and angry if it happened to me. 

  7. The other issue I wonder about is that all the games are together in essentially one room. I can only imagine that parents would be upset if they’re playing their family friendly game and their child asks them “What’s a sex move Mommy? The people at the next table keep talking about them!”

  8. Yeah, I think if we want to properly classify age levels for games, keeping kids out of mature games (for the sake of the other players) is definitely worthwhile. I found running Carolina Death Crawl (built on a foundation of Civil War death, depravity, and destruction) a little uncomfortable to run with a 9 year old and his dad.

    On the other hand, regarding your second point, I think any parents that bring their kids to Gen Con need to be ready to answer some hard questions. I’m not too worried on that score.

  9. Paul Showalter Games on Demand was in two separate rooms at Origins, and partially divided at Gencon.  I think if you put the G and Pg rated games in one area and the R and NC-17 games in another, both groups would be a lot happier.  (This would be another logistical hurdle, though.)

    I considered offering “Games on Demand… for kids!” at Origins, as I had my daughter at the con.  I decided against it.  But I would probably be willing to run a slot or two of specifically family friendly games if this became a thing for future years.

    Gencon and other larger cons generally already have a children’s track and family planning.  If you want to do something family friendly, then these are definitely groups to reach out to.  They may already have rules and guidelines to follow, or just have advice and assistance.  If nothing else, you could give the kid’s room a schedule of the GoD children’s programs (maybe the family friendly menus from GMs offering such) so that they can direct interested families your direction. 

  10. I really like the separate table for parents next to the kids. Yes it’s a logistical issue and it might mean that we have to ask for tickets from both parents and kids (assuming they’re both playing). The separate room comment has me thinking though.

    I’m not sure if we’re likely to expand again into a 3rd room or if GenCon thinks we’re big enough for now (or just doesn’t have the space to give us more). Further, i”m not sure we could fill a room for kids/parents, especially not at all hours. Steve Segedy do you know how often we had to hit the overflow tables? (And how likely additional space is going to be?)

    If we have a third room or partition a section of the rooms we do have off, we might be able to set up a “family” space. There, we have pairs of tables, one for kids, one for adults. We put a kid-friendly GM at the one, and another GM at the other and have at it. Of course, this assumes the parents want to plat something, but I think we could get them into some sort of game.The family zone would be up for specific hours (10-6? 10-4?) and then becomes grown-up overflow (unless we see we have demand for kid-friendly games all evening as well. 

    I’m not sure how feasible these logistics are. It might require more space and will definitely require more planning. I don’t want the kid track buried in some back room of a hotel (though assuming GoD keeps its prime real estate, it could send families off to the GoD-Kids-overflow area, which might stop some of these issues). There’s a lot more planning involved and we need to make sure there are enough GMs to keep the kids (and possibly parents) entertained. That said, If there’s a specific area the family games are running, then that alleviates some of the Monsterhearts right next to the Little Wizards issues. 

    In my ideal world, GoD gets three adjacent rooms next year and we designate one for kid-track/Overflow/special format games. We then have pairs of tables for “family” gaming, letting the kids play their game and the grown ups get something else in. (To let the kids learn the game without parents playing for them.)

    And with that, I think I’m done with my novella.

  11. This may not be the best way to deal with it, but perhaps, just like with TV shows, the kid friendly games could run earlier in the day, and more mature themed games run in slots that don’t have kid games running (generally later in the day or evening).  Of course, the goal wouldn’t be to limit the more mature games, but to offer another way to work through logistics.  

  12. I think what would be most useful (in planning adjustments to GoD) is gathering information on what is valuable to kids and parents attending (in this case) Gen Con. What do they want? What is missing from the current experience? 

    Once we have a list of objectives and needs, we can look at bending the current event model to accommodate some of them.

  13. From my own experience with the Paizo Beginner Track, what’s missing from GoD:

    1) Games with a clear indication of kid-friendliness (The one time I had the host mark this, my game had several younger players)

    2) Something for the parents to do (Paizo was at least running very short (1-1.5 hour) games)

    3) A way to handle offering kid-friendly and mature games by the same group

  14. One possibility is to colour code the pages the games  are printed on so it’s very clear which games are kid friendly?

  15. We should define “kid” for our purposes. My guess is that GoD is the wrong space for kids under, say, 10 years old. I could be wrong. (I also feel panic at the thought of bringing my 5 year old anywhere near Gen Con)

  16. Just for comparison, Paizo would run for as young as 5. Doesn’t mean we have to. That said, I do have some games which are aimed to the 5-9 crowd. Maybe we need “Kid” “tween” (or some other name)… Maybe just steal the ESRB or MPAA’s ratings…

  17. Mark Richardson color-coding the menus more clearly is a good idea, for both the maturity level and other important factors (such as two-hour vs 4-hour). 

  18. Color Code, Iconography, and Text FTW!

  19. Green Kid Friendly (Age10-14), White PG/AA (most games), Red or Orange (Mature). Keep it simple IMO. Within these you could then dictate style of play silly, serious etc.. Ie Paranoia might be White Silly whereas Ninja Panda would be Green Silly and Whiz Kids Green Serious.