Teach Your Kids to Game Week is here! A time to share your love of the hobby with friends, family, and the next generation of gamers. Teaching a new game can be a rewarding and fun experience, but it can also be challenging, no matter what age anyone is. We’ve asked a few game designers for their thoughts on teaching games to younger players and will take a closer look at some of the systems we’re celebrating this week. In no particular order:
Michtims are easily mistaken for hamsters at first glance, yet they have access to magic, technology, and nature’s allies. They are in constant struggle with human plans to take down their sacred woods.
This game, easy to learn with basic rules, introduces complexity as players progress, featuring a unique personality-driven mechanic based on five emotions. Whether utilizing magic, tech, or nature, players can reshape the game’s narrative by introducing new themes within the established framework.
“Involve your players in creating the world WITH YOU. Let them create memorable NPCs, connected to their characters, put their names on a relationship map and connect these characters with your players’ characters and other NPCs.
You’ll see so many options for intrigue and creativity spring up, once you allow them to create!” – Zev Mir
For Our Family is a card-based storytelling game for ages 13+ designed to explore questions of identity and belonging in a fictional, safe context through conversation; no dice nor facilitator. It focuses on answering prompts and exploring those answers collectively.
“We are assuming the roles of a single generation of this family, blood or otherwise, to tell a collective story. Our elders have returned to the homeland and have invited you all to a reunion to inherit the family’s legacy. Your elders have nominated you, and only you, because there is no one else. And although we’ve felt the weight of their expectations our entire lives, we love them.” – Barkada Games
Unleash your kids’ imagination with Hero Kids, the ENnie award-winning fantasy RPG for kids aged from 4 to 10. This game offers a fast and fun introduction to RPGs, perfect for younger kids who are just getting interested in role-playing games using only six-sided dice.
“Smaller kids are like gremlins; no matter how much they beg and what they promise, never ever ever let them start another adventure when you know they’re getting tired! It will just end with them getting distracted, tired, and emotional. It’s better to leave the session on a high and come back later for another session.
Young kids love playing with minis and maps. Physical materials make it much easier for them to visualize their characters, adversaries, and environments. As they get more experienced, you can transition to describing the scenes, situations, and their characters’ actions, and only use minis and maps in combat encounters.” – Justin Halliday
Companions’ Tale is a map-making storytelling game where you tell the tale of an epic hero, righting wrongs and saving kingdoms.
Companions’ Tale is a game is for 3-4 players and takes approximately 2 ½ hours to play. It uses evocative world-building rules, a deck of inspirational themes and art, and a series of rotating roles for shared storytelling. Together, you’ll build the history and culture of the realm, fill in a rich and changing map, and reveal your companions’ tales.
Pugmire is a world that juxtaposes the tropes of high fantasy with our relationship with domestic dogs. The main characters are pioneers who explore lost ruins in search of relics, knowledge, and danger.
Fetch Quest is a family-friendly cooperative deck-building game for 3-6 players ages 12 and up. Each player represents a pioneer, one of six adventurous dogs on a dangerous quest. The pioneers work together to overcome dangerous challenges and resolve missions.
“The best advice is not to talk down, but be prepared to explain… kids will have questions about how things work, and with fewer preconceptions of what is or isn’t possible. However, kids also can sense insincerity or being talked down to easily, so trying to “dumb things down” hasn’t worked for me.
Many kids will be boisterous, unintentionally trampling over everyone else’s attempts to do things, or they’ll be shy and unwilling to inject themselves into the story unless they’re called on… just treat them like you would any other player, giving them a proportionate amount of time to be cool and entertaining at the table!” – Eddy Webb
Starport is a tabletop roleplaying game of adventure and imagination designed to facilitate growth in problem-solving, creativity, teamwork, critical thinking, reading, writing, oral communication, mathematics, and self-esteem.
With no references to any shooting, hitting, slashing, or fighting enemies, Starport allows you to launch unforgettable, epic adventures without needing to wield a sword. Ideal for players aged 5-12, and still a blast for adults.
“The perfect RPG to play with your kids!” – Wider Path Games
Humblewood (PDF and Virtual Tabletop)
The best stories are the ones you make up with your children. That’s the thought behind Amazing Tales, a story-making game of roleplay and imagination for children who are old enough to have adventures.
“Kids are natural, brilliant gamers, they love telling stories, they’re incredibly creative and they always have an answer for ‘what happens next?’ On just about any measure of creativity, kids outperform adults. It might be ‘Teach your kids to game week’, but that doesn’t mean they can’t teach you a few things as well. Here are five ways to get some of that kid magic going at your table:
1. start early. Four years old is old enough to play a simple role-playing game like Amazing Tales. No need to wait longer than that!
2. Start with stuff your kids are familiar with. Like pirates, or fairies. Kids love pirates and kids love fairies so that’s going to work. Don’t start with stuff they’ve never heard of. And don’t be strict about genres – if your kid wants to play a superhero in a medieval fantasy world, well, see number three.
3. Don’t say no. The promise of role playing games is that you can be anything and can do anything, and your first game is not the time to come over all “a wizard can’t have a longsword because it’s a martial weapon”. Your kid wants to play a space-pirate dog-man with magic powers? Say yes. They want to do something that sounds impossible? Roll the dice. If the dice say no that’s one thing, if you say no, that’s no fun.
4. Provide alternatives to violence. Killing monsters is fun. So is tricking monsters, befriending monsters, hiding from monsters, distracting monsters, chasing monsters, running away from monsters and discovering that the monsters weren’t monsters after all. Once players get into the habit of fighting everything they meet it’s hard to get them out of it, so be sure to provide plenty of other challenges.
5. Make the stories epic! Save the world! Save the day! Stop the bomb with half a second left on the timer, rescue the falling friend inches from the ground, let your kid’s character lead the army of unicorns that defeats the witch’s legion of flying monkeys.
But most important of all – have fun.” – Martin Llyod
The Pip System offers a versatile and genre-bending rules system tailored for any roleplaying game. Ideal for introducing newcomers and children to the world of roleplaying, it boasts customizable character options with minimal bookkeeping, featuring easy-to-learn mechanics that solely rely on six-sided dice. The system includes comprehensive rules for gameplay, complete with a few premade characters to facilitate a smooth start into your roleplaying adventure.
“Playing games with kids can be highly beneficial beyond the academic skills built into the rules. Social skills, emotional connection, safe-space exploration, and community building are all underlying areas that games such as RPGs support organically. When deciding at what age to start RPGs, look at where your child is with their attention span, socially, and where they are with math skills. You may need to adapt the game to help them in areas where they struggle. Things like using dice with pips on them so they can count, asking leading questions or giving sentence starters for their storytelling, and even keeping scenarios extremely short can be helpful when storytelling.” – Crystal Mazur
Little Heroes is a storytelling game designed for families and young children. Its mechanics are designed to be simple while encouraging creativity among the players. It’s a lot like telling a bed-time story, but with a lot more interaction.
“Gaming with children is a great way to let them explore their creativity. Children like to use their imagination to overcome challenges in new ways; ways we don’t think about as adults. When the opportunity arises, put the dice down and let your children’s imaginations go wild, coming up with new, inventive ways to get through a conflict.” – Aaron T. Huss