One year before I:T started, Raine and I were blessed with a little one. We knew that we wanted to introduce our son to the world of gaming for many reasons before he even arrived, but the question was what to start with? His natural curiosity got him into our game room, and things have developed since then. I wanted to share with our readers how we have personally exposed our geekling to our world, and various insights on how these skills may relate to other parts of his life.
At our first Gen Con visit, we picked up a giant green foam d20 as a present for him. He LOVED that thing and would look at me expectantly while holding it. One of his first words, not surprisingly, was “dice”.
When he first ventured into our gaming area (a closet, at the time), he’d sit and look at the game boxes, touch the pictures, and smile. Every chance he had to grab dice and drop them, he did. Over time he wanted to be involved with our cards and pawns. For over a year, he even had his own “deck” of Magic:the Gathering cards. By this, I mean he had a large stack of the advertisement/token cards we pulled from cracking our packs, but that didn’t matter to him. He happily sat on the floor and “sorted” his cards. Occasionally we’d hear “Ooooo lookit I got!” or “oh cool!”, mimicking our reactions. The excitement he got from being part of our hobby was just the beginning.
The Interest Grew
For a long time, he was content with his decks of cards and a few handfuls of dice that he was given by our local game stores. He’d of course grab at our game sessions and “help” us roll dice. One time, his roll allowed my half-elf rogue a critical stab, and another time he spawned more enemies than we could handle. But he was involved and felt so proud of himself.
We began to look at our games, and the availability of games out there, and found that we didn’t have many games that were suitable for his age. Of course, we were using other methods of play to begin teaching him problem solving like building with blocks and recognizing numbers and counting.
One day, out of nowhere, he walked into our game room and declared “I want to play zombie games with Daddy”.
What zombie game is he talking about? And the better question: what zombie game would be okay for a 3 year old? He pointed to Zombie Dice.
We thought “Well, there aren’t any scary features to this game besides the container, so maybe this can work.”
He was mainly just focused on wanting to shake the container and roll dice, not really caring about the results. However, we showed him the different symbols and explained how it worked. He knew brains were good, feet could be re-rolled, and the shots would cause him to lose his brains. He knew that three “booms” meant it was someone else’s turn. He frequently wanted to “push his luck”, though we advised him against his desires a few times to keep his brains and actually get a score. That kid won his first game of Zombie Dice against his parents, and by a landslide, actually.
We frequently pull out Zombie Dice still, but we’ve managed to pick up some other games that are more aimed towards kids. We are still working on concepts of Connect Four, because right now it is a color recognition and counting game. But you see, that is going to eventually develop into knowing that he needs four in a row, or to stop me from getting four in a row. I’m letting him learn at his own pace, because he’s got lots of time to put the details together.
We picked up Chutes & Ladders and will be teaching him that soon, and I will be reporting on our geekling-raising progress soon afterwards. Another game that we are hoping to get soon is called My First Orchard by HABA Games. If you have little ones in the 2-5 age range, you really should know about their line. They create board games that are very appropriate for young kids, though we just recently learned about them.
If you are on your own adventure of exposing your kids to tabletop, I’d love to hear what games you are using and how they are developing. Please share your experiences and game recommendations!
Until next time, happy gaming (with your kids)!