Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Another Milestone

So Apprentice Blaster has a fairly big birthday tomorrow. He was with us tonight and we were out in the garage looking at my wall of game shelves and talking about birthday plans and generally shooting the breeze. He mentioned that he likes playing 4th Edition, but he really likes running Basic - it's simpler and faster - and we talked a little about his ongoing efforts to talk his friends into playing and how that's been tricky with schedules and all. Kid afternoons just don't seem to be as free now as the ones I remember. I told him I could give him the gear but he was going to have to get the players on his own. He hasn't given up yet, He also told me the pre-gens in the back of that Haunted Keep adventure are way too powerful as some of them have an 18 in something and no negative stats at all, so take that Dragonsfoot! Powergamers! So sayeth my new teenager!

The new Marvel game came up and we may give it a whirl this weekend, probably after his friends are gone. I've noticed that when we play something Marvel-flavored he prefers either Captain America or Wolverine. I'm sure that symbolizes something about the teenage mind and being torn between doing the right thing and doing what you want. Considering they both like to kick the stuffing out of people up close I think it mainly means he likes characters that kick ace up close and personal. He's getting a copy of DC Adventures for his birthday so maybe Batman will be added to that list as well.

I'm sure this is how he sees his characters...
We also discussed what different editions of D&D are good at and what's this Traveller game that takes up a whole shelf by itself and are we going to try Shadowrun anytime soon and how I blew him up too fast the last time we tried Battletech and we need to try that one again  - just general game talk for a while.

Then a gerbil ran over my foot and we spent about 20 minutes recapturing it, but that's a story for another time.

Anyway it's good to know that the kids are interested in this thing, but not obsessed with it. He and the other apprentices have a pretty good attitude about it.

We have birthdays less than a month apart, putting almost exactly 30 years between us and I notice little generational differences sometimes. Some things to keep in mind about the teens and tweens coming up now:

  • Lord of the Rings to them means movies more than books.
  • They probably didn't start with the Hobbit or LOTR or Conan - they started with Harry Potter.
  • If our top 3 fantasy influences back in the 70's & 80's were Tolkien & King Arthur & (for me) Narnia/Prydain - note these are books and cartoons at the time - then theirs are Harry Potter, Warcraft/Skyrim, and the LOTR/Narnia movies. Twilight is a player in there too, do not underestimate its power with the female set. I'm just happy John Carter is getting a big action movie and the Hobbit ain't far behind. That Hunger Games thing is a pretty big deal too apparently.
  • Playing the role of a Knight or a Wizard or a Superhero is nothing revolutionary to them - they've been doing it in videogames for much of their lives so that alone isn't anything special. What makes tabletop RPG's special is doing it cooperatively with friends and family and having cool stories to tell about it afterwards. That last item in particular is something I still think is underrated and something I try to champion whenever possible. Online sessions via skype or other tools gives you some of that I think, but watching your buddy roll a 1 at a critical time, or taking down that dragon and being able to high five your brother when you do is a huge deal, and something you can't quite duplicate with an MMO or over a chat window. That's where a lot of the "special" lies.
Pretty sure this how I still think of him a lot of the time

Anyway, it's a good time here*. More to come.

*Other than Apprentice Red getting his learner's permit today. Oh lordy lordy lordy ...


Martin R. Thomas said...

Hey, this was cool. Thanks so much for sharing this. I really dig these "slice of (gamer) life" stories way better than "He's why 4th edition sucks" or "here's yet another version of a Basic D&D fighter" or whatever, I'd much rather read personal stories about gaming versus getting more "crunch" any day of the week.

I recently just wrote on my blog about my efforts raising a little girl geek (she's 2 1/2), so your story about gaming with your teenager was really interesting for me to read. I liked your insights about what fantasy influences kids today are growing up with versus what we had when we were kids.

Blacksteel said...

Thanks Martin. I try to stay mainly game-focused on here but a lot of that activity does tie back into the kids and whatever is going on this week. I have looked at your blog before and it is in my rotation. A lot of what you write brings back some experiences for me too. I think we're running about a decade apart so it gives me a reason to think back. Stay on the path!I figure if my daughter can argue the finer points of Godzilla movies then I've done something right, even if she is not terribly interested in watching them now - she loved them when she was 5 or so. It does stay with them.

Barking Alien said...

I gotta give it up for you my man. You are living the gamer dream, at least as seen by us older hobbyists.

Don't knock the fact that many of your viewers probably like this kind of post. It is, after all, 'game-focused' as you say. It's interesting to me at least in that it gets into the mindset of not only the older gamer with kids but the kids themselves. Sorry Blaster, teenager, not kid.

Can't wait to hear about how they like Marvel and DC, two very different approaches to the Superhero RPG.

Seems you are doing the right thing on all fronts Blacksteel. Jus' keep it comin'.

Blacksteel said...

Hey, growing your own players is a long term project, but it's paying off now. Heck Lady Blacksteel had never touched a d20 until we had been dating for a while and now she's a part of the regular crew too.

Gaming with the kids is a tricky thing sometimes. I like to have the grown-up game for my adult players and run separate games for the kids, as the 20-30 year age difference is significant. But some of the funniest sessions have been the rare times one of them joins the grownups for a one-off and things get crazy. It's only been with D&D so far but I think a Supers game has even more potential and I think the Marvel game might be the candidate to try it.

Supers-wise they've played M&M 2, ICONS, and Marvel Super Heroes. I think March may turn into Super-Month and I may work in some DCA/M&M 3, Savage Worlds and Champions and the new Marvel, just to cover even more.

Plus everybody plays City of Heroes. When we all get on at once - rare, but it has happened a few times - we are our own super-team. I finally paid out a little for our own Ventrilo server this year. It's a blast when that kind of thing comes together.

Hopefully it all keeps going for a long time to come.