Unplugging a New Generation of Gamer

Back in December of 1999, my sister gave birth to my oldest nephew.  That evening at the hospital, I can almost guarantee that my brother-in-law and I had a discussion that one day, we would have a new permanent member to our gaming group.  Yes, it’s true, his fate was sealed before he was even a day old.  Jump ahead to a late last year, and the time had come to finally introduce him (and his siblings) to the world of Dungeons & Dragons.

After yet another incredibly long break, I returned to the helm of a gaming group, one unlike any I have ever had the pleasure of running.  To keep things quick and (relatively) easy, I chose to dust off my copy of Wizards of the Coast’s The Sunless Citadel and proceeded to roll up characters for the entire party.  With the help of the tools available from HeroForge, I had a new party rolled up and ready to take on whatever 3rd Edition Faerûn could throw at them… and what a completely random party it was.  Here’s the breakdown:

  • My brother-in-law, the most veteran gamer,  is playing a Halfling Barbarian armed with a two-handed flail.
  • My sister, sticking true to her real-life profession as a lawyer, is playing a Tiefling Rogue.
  • My oldest nephew, doing his dad proud, chose to be an Elven Ranger.
  • My niece, who just turned 9, was a Gnome Sorcerer, and…….
  • My youngest nephew, who is 6, asked to be a Halfling Rogue.

Now, in the hopes of keeping the party alive, I rolled up a GMPC for myself, choosing to play a (gasp) Dwarven Cleric. The first thought that popped into my head was that it was some psychotic Bizarro World version of the Fellowship of the Ring.  I knew this group was going to be interesting, and the first night at the table did not disappoint.

Immediately after reading the module introduction, my youngest nephew suggested we rob the bank and then wanted to light things on fire (I mentioned he was 6, right).  It took some coaxing, but we finally made it through the awkward party formation stage of the campaign and set about on the first of hopefully many adventures.  Highlights of the night included spirited attempts at real role-playing, memorably effective teamwork, and my youngest nephew rolling 15 or higher on his d20 like it was going out of style.  We had a great time and after a solid 4 hours of gaming and an extremely efficient slaughter of Kobolds, we called it a night.

Without a doubt, the best thing I took away from the table that night was the knowledge that I had been instrumental in introducing a new facet of gaming to my niece and nephews.  Like most kids of their generation, they are already intimately familiar with gaming, be it on a computer, a console or a smartphone.  These kids have cut their teeth on Playstation  and xbox 360, and while I myself am a huge fan of video games, there is definitely something far more tangible and far more rewarding that comes with sitting down with pencil, paper and dice rather than a controller and headphones.

There has been plenty going on since that initial night of gaming, some goo and some bad, that have kept us from continuing on with the the Adventures of the Dysfunctional Ragamuffins, but as life settles into a more normal rhythm, I plan on helping them all once again plunge into the zany dangers of Old Faerun once again.  I’ll probably switch the rule system over to Pathfinder (I am a 3.5 edition snob, after all) and maybe my wife will join us, but that may require the addition of our own little gamer to the family somewhere down the road.

“Families are like fudge – mostly sweet with a few nuts.” ~ Author Unknown

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2 thoughts on “Unplugging a New Generation of Gamer

  1. Bravo Matt.

    A lot of people think that tabletop roleplayers represent a slowly dying breed of gamer. That is why it’s imperative that we pass down the joy that is gaming to the younger generation.

  2. Thanks Eric. I know I’ve beat the issue to death when I say that tabletop is my absolute favorite form of gaming, but I really think it is important to keep the torch burning and continue passing it along. It’s too easy for kids to just plug in nowadays and in terms of gaming, video games are just easier to access and require less “work.” To get the most out of tabletop, it takes a true investment of time and energy for GM’s and Players alike and I’m afraid of future generations not being willing to make that investment. I know Karen and Ramses will raise their son to enjoy tabletop gaming and I plan on doing the same once my wife and I have kids. Personally, I see a love for gaming as being one of the real “legacies” I hope to pass on to my kids. That and clean underwear.

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