Little Wizards is a tabletop role-playing game where kids ages 6-10 years old. It allows grown-ups to interact with their children like never before, and with that they can share their love of gaming with them. We had a chance to sit down with Amanda Valentine, the young lady tasked with making the English version of the game happen as asked by Crafty Games, and talked a little about how the game came to be, as well as what it was like during the development process.
Here’s our interview:
I:T) What gave you the idea to bring Little Wizards over in English?
AV) Crafty Games gets credit for that! They asked me to edit the translation of the first volume, which is how I became involved with the project. The setting and the artwork were quite a draw, though—even though I couldn’t understand a word of the French version, it was still fun to look at!
I:T) What was the development process like?
AV) It ended up being more involved than we expected! I did a copyedit of the first volume, but the rules didn’t feel complete. There were more rules and two more adventures in the second volume, so we decided to combine both books into one. We tweaked and streamlined the mechanics, rearranged all the information, added a lot of suggestions to character creation, and made some other changes to appeal to our audience. Looking at the three adventures, I realized that if you played them in order they could work as a primer for new GMs or for experienced GMs who are new to running games for young players. We expanded on that, putting in explicit advice for running games with kids, including a section on making failed rolls interesting.
I:T) Did you test this game out with your own children?
AV) I did! It was my first experience GMing, so it was kind of intimidating! But that was the inspiration for some of the rule tweaks and for a lot of the advice that made it into the final game. My kids had fun, and when it was over they wanted to run the game for their younger cousins and my daughter was already outlining an adventure of her own.
I:T) What was your favorite part about the development process?
AV) I’m used to editing, which means I need to stay true to the author’s intent and bring that out as clearly as possible. For this game, I was removed from the author both through language and a lack of access. It took me a while to realize that I could make the changes I wanted so I could make Little Wizards a game that would really appeal to our audience. There was a sense of ownership that I don’t usually experience, especially since I was the one making most of the changes, instead of requesting someone else make changes. It was an exciting and nerve-wracking experience! But I really enjoyed it.
I:T) Do you feel it’s important to get younger children into gaming? If so, why?
AV) I think games of all kinds are important for kids. It’s even better when there are fun games parents, older siblings, and other adults actually want to play with kids. I dreaded playing those never-ending luck-based board games that so often pass for kids’ games. Playing games with my kids became a lot more fun when they could play the kinds of games that I like to play, too. I hope that Little Wizards will fall into that category for most families.
I also think it’s great for kids to start playing RPGs as early as possible. They already have a natural inclination toward imaginative play and storytelling, so it’s pretty easy to move that into the structure of an RPG. A cooperative game like Little Wizards helps them empathize with other players around the table and to learn responsibility for everyone having fun without sacrificing their own fun.
I:T) What advice would you give to parents who are looking into Little Wizards for their children?
AV) Do your best to say yes to your children’s ideas, even if it takes things in unexpected directions. But you can also tweak their ideas to better fit the story, especially if some of the wackier suggestions might derail the fun of other players. Running games for young players can be a bit of a juggling act!
I:T) How has the response been to the game so far?
AV) People seem to really like it! I haven’t seen a ton of feedback yet, and only one review. I can’t wait to see the book at Gen Con and to get a chance to talk to people about it.
I:T) Do you see more companies creating games like this for kids in the future?
AV) As more and more gamers become parents, I think this is absolutely a growing demographic. I know a lot of parents who are trying to figure out the best way to introduce their kids to the hobby, usually at a much younger age than they themselves started playing.
I:T) What were some of your favorite games as a child? And now?
AV) My gaming childhood was pretty traditional—board games like Clue, card games like Rummy. I started playing RPGs as an adult, starting with variations of D&D and Warhammer. I’m totally biased, but currently I really like Fate and Cortex Plus. I’m also enamored of Dungeon World.
I:T) Do you see Little Wizards expanding beyond its initial borders? (i.e., expansions?)
AV) We’re thinking about a book of adventures that will elaborate a bit on the setting. We’ll see how it goes!
We want to thank Amanda for her time, and are excited to see Little Wizards take off. If you’re attending Gen Con this year, make sure you check out the game and stop by to say hello to Amanda, as she’ll be at the Crafty Games booth in the exhibit hall. If you’re looking for a new RPG to enjoy with your minions, this is sure to be right up your alley!