Teach Your Kids to Game Week

We're smack dab in the middle of this year's Teach Your Kids to Game Week, which runs December 3-10, 2012. I'm not sure a week is enough, since I think we should teach gaming whenever we can, but it might jog a few parents into action who otherwise wouldn't think of it.

Why Teach Gaming?
My wife recently shared an article listing the Top 10 Skills Children Learn from the Arts. When I read it, I realized that the same list neatly covers skills learned from Gaming as well. Patience, focus, creative problem-solving, perseverance - all of these spring just as easily from the gaming table.

I think Fitz's article about Cultivating a Beginner's Mind over at Game Knight Reviews hits another benefit squarely on the head. When you teach, a part of you recalls the limitless possibilities you had when you first learned. Before the limits and even defining what "failure" was in a gaming sense, you were free to explore and define your reality without fear. You were p'u, the uncarved block who had no preconceived limits on what was possible, and a piece of that mindset rekindles when you play RPGs and other games with your kids. I don't know about you, but tapping into that feeling helps keep me young.

Communication Is Key
In my mind, RPGs teach communication skills most of all. I've never heard anyone request less communication, unless they're trying to limit spam messages. But limiting face to face communications? I've only heard pleas for brevity, not less communication.

"It looks just like the GM described it!"
RPGs center around communication. It's a game where you create a new reality out of nothing but words: describing locations and items and actions and speaking in character. More thoughts on this in an upcoming post, so stay tuned.

No matter what work you or your kids end up doing in life, role playing games train communication skills and make habitual players more more rounded people, and thus more valuable workers. RPGs encourage speaking up around the table. They encourage taking action and describing that action in a way that everyone else around the table understands. Players come up with unorthodox ideas to solve problems. Players learn how to look at a situation from differing viewpoints and prioritize what to do next. Persevering through a quest rewards you with loot or character improvement. RPGs encourage working in a group and finding ways to get along with others to accomplish goals.

Do I sound like a business-based motivational speaker yet?

How Do I Start?
Don't overwhelm your kids with rules. Telling the story and controlling a character are key to getting kids jazzed about RPGs. I suggest using something lightweight, like RPG Kids or Argyle & Crew. I know people playing with something as light as the Clay-O-Rama rules from Dragon Magazine #125, and as crunchy as straight AD&D, so whatever rules you're comfortable with can work for kids, if you can explain them in small enough chunks for everyone at the table to understand. Or you can take all the math bits behind the GM screen and just have your younger players roll dice and decide what their character does next.

Drive Thru RPG has some other suggestions for RPGs for kids. And they're promoting Teach Your Kids to Game Week with resources like this banner:

DriveThruRPG.com

I'm using Warrior, Rogue & Mage in my RPG for kids since it's all d6+bonus vs. target number. I've posted some lessons learned from my first RPG for kids run which you may find helpful. I'm also excited to get my hands on Sidekick Quests when the rules are released. Definitely read the Sidekick Quests webcomic if you haven't yet. James Stowe's character sheets and monster sheets are very accessible and irrepressibly fun.

What Am I Doing This Week?
Sadly, not much, though I've talked with my daughter about finishing up the story of Princess Ruth that we've been creating occasionally at bedtime. I'm flat out between work and homeschool and cleaning and being dad and shopping and adjusting to 2 new cats and getting back to writing The Tao of Gaming. But I am scheduling the next RPG for kids session for January or February. I can't wait to see what happens in Dragonville next.

Game on. And involve your kids this time.

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