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Author Topic: So now I work in an elementary school after-school program  (Read 14563 times)
Judd
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Please call me Judd.


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« on: September 23, 2004, 05:59:15 PM »

I am working part-time in an elementary after-school program with kindergartners through fifth graders.  There are a few fifth grade boys who do what they call playing D&D.  Essentially, this consists of one smart boy, a ringleader, sitting with the Monster Manual, the only book they tend to have and saying, "150 Githyanki are surrounding you, what do you do?"

The players describe their character's actions, often using beasts and spells from Final Fantasy.  They do not roll any dice and sometimes arguments break out over who can do what.  They play for 20-30 minutes at a time when nothing else is going on.

The DM goes through the Monster Manual in this manner, in no particular order but his buddies love it and have told me that he is an amazing DM.

I have to make up a kind of lesson plan by next Wednesday and starting up a Gaming Club is certainly an idea I would like to explore.

I'm eyeing Zak's games greedily about now but wanted to ask the forum at large what they reccommend.  I could split the Game Clubs up into k-2 and 3-5 if I wished.

I could ask the program to buy some materials but nothing too nuts.

Ideas?

Games?

Thoughts?
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Walt Freitag
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Posts: 1039


« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2004, 07:35:50 PM »

Have you considered getting this group to design their own game?

EDIT: Let me rephrase that; they obviously already have designed their own game. What I mean is, get them to continue developing their game. END EDIT

I'm thinking something like, let them play in their usual way, and when an argument breaks out, ask them "what would be a good rule to make for how to decide who's right?" Suggest where they might use dice or currency. Let it build from there. Play, discuss problems or new possibilities, add or change rules to suit.

Only after that's gone pretty far, start showing them representative published game systems or core parts of systems.

The thought of kids that age learning and applying design and play principles (however basic) before getting exposed to any authoritative (good or bad) examples of "how it's supposed to be done" is intriguing and perhaps a bit scary.

- Walt
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Luke
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Conventions Forum Moderator, First Thoughts Pest


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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2004, 07:38:13 PM »

for that kind of play -- large groups, everyone in on the action -- i gotta recommend Universalis.  The "GM" can still lay the 150 Githyanki smack down, and the players' retorts'll have some teeth.

I'd start 'em off with a prebuilt scenario based on their shared Final Fantasy/DnD world. Once they got the hang of having a resolution system to arbitrate their disputes, I'd move on to the shared world-building aspects of Uni.

I  ran Marvel Superheroes for a group of kids about this age for a while. It was a glorious disaster. MSH does not help one defeat the bullying and cliques inherent to a boys group of that age.

Uni might be able to, so long as you can get them to stick to the coins and dice.

my two coins,
-L
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Judd
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« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2004, 08:12:33 PM »

Quote from: abzu
MSH does not help one defeat the bullying and cliques inherent to a boys group of that age.


I am really worried about that.

I see the hierarchy quite clearly in their action figure play and I'm wondering what kind of glorious disaster I'm looking forward to at the gaming table.
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Judd
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« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2004, 12:15:27 AM »

Thanks for the suggestions.

I will certainly be reading over the following thread:

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=4799

with careful interest.
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Judd
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« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2004, 05:33:59 AM »

And

Zak Arnston's site (http://www.harlekin-maus.com/index.html) is pretty much pure gold waiting to be mined.  Shadows and Monkey Wrench both look great.
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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2004, 08:38:12 AM »

There was a discussion of this elsewhere (The Place That Cannot Be Named).  I will cull some of my responses there, and reproduce the remnants here.

You should consider encouraging them to add story elements.  I would also like to suggest characterization. It should be easy to do. If all they do is have fights, it should be pretty easy to introduce these without even overtly doing so.

Just have a conversation with them. Ask what their characters look like. What makes them special. What they care about. Ask the DM what he thinks happens before and after the fights.

--

People could be encouraged to draw their characters.  Or if they don't draw, maybe kids who like to draw but who are not interested in the game yet could be asked to draw for them, thereby spreading the interest around a little.

For that matter, gaming group or not, it might be a fun after-school program project for everyone to come up with a super-hero or character of some kind and talk about that character. Whether or not they play it.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2004, 04:03:50 PM »

Quote
You should consider encouraging them to add story elements. I would also like to suggest characterization. It should be easy to do. If all they do is have fights, it should be pretty easy to introduce these without even overtly doing so.


Why? Why? Why!? Walt already mentioned their designing without being shown "how it's supposed to be done" could be very powerful...what your suggesting here is trying to add something like that. Now if they go that way naturally, helping them so they don't have to reinvent the wheel on certain rules is a good idea. Even some questions to see if that intrigues them (but really avoid selling them on the idea) are a good idea. But why do they have to adopt our RPG culture when they might have a chance at something that's a breath of fresh air?

Will add more latter, in a rush today.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
eef
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« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2004, 06:01:57 PM »

Seems to me like as far as conflict resolution and rules go, the kids have it down pretty good.

Maybe ask them where they are, where the fight is, what is around it.  If nothing it the answers will get them stuff to use in the fight.  After the fight they can wander around for a bit.

THen again, maybe they just like fighting :-)
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Manicrack
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Posts: 8


« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2004, 06:12:56 PM »

hm,
i started rpg's when i was seven.
yes SEVEN!
all we had was a single freaking d20 and we sucked big time.
We id pretty much the same, only that there were no rulebooks.
Whenver we rolled the d20 it was like this:
"Hm, that's a pretty high number, you kick his booty"
Honestly, from my own experiences, those kids have to grow up to appreciate our kind of gaming.
As did I and my old gaming buddies dack home in good'ol Germany.

But since I know you're going for this anyway, i would do what was already said. Get them to a system slowly and step by step.
Or, teach how to play their roles.
But i am afraid, and again I speak from my own experiences, that you can't do both.

And yes, I know I always think waaaayyyyy to negative.

-Crack
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Callan S.
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« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2004, 08:27:51 PM »

Okay, why do we have to have this story crud and this 'get into your role' crud?

Sorry to get emphatic again, but fighting is good! Further, it sounds like the system their using is good, if unrefined.

It sounds like were missionaries who must go to those islands and bring all the pagan islanders under our religion...because surely they can't live like that!?

What are these suggestions for? We don't do this to other posters here 'Oh, you don't play nar? Here, let me help you with your problem'

The only concern I'd have for these kids is the long term potential of the material. And that might not even be a concern, since it is okay to do a hobby for awhile but not adopt it for life.

Well, the other concern is the occasional arguements. There are probably various ways of assisting this, though sneaking story into there or role isn't related to that assistance. I'd like to hear more on when their arguments come up and how much they are resolved.

But really, fighting is good. If you've ever noticed kids eat food, they often get a bit of bread and just put jam or honey or whatever on it, often going past the butter/margarine. Why don't they mix up all sorts of flavours...because they still enjoy the basics. The basics are very forfilling for them...it takes an adults more jaded tongue to seak out interesting mixes of flavour.

Personally I've been surprised at how much influence I have over my four year old sons opinion of TV shows, for example. Really, telling yong kids 'ah, you need some story and getting into role to have fun' will not only distract them from what their already having fun with, but influence them to pursue something that wont work for them.

Am I way out of sync with the rest of the forge on this? Does everyone else think there must be a problem when there's lots of fighting, no real in role stuff and no real story?
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Kerstin Schmidt
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Posts: 289


« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2004, 12:48:21 AM »

Hm, do you guys remember when you were kids?  I'd say where there's fighting there's story. Fighting is story when you're a kid.  Pure story.  Like honey on toast, yup.  

I'd like to hear more about that game they are playing on their own.  Is it still going on? Is there a way you can just observe and learn?  Asking questions might not even help that much, most rules in kids' spontaneous play are implicit - a true "social contract", always being negotiated and renegotiated, always evolving.  

If you want to foster and teach in the background, running sessions for those interested using other easy-to-pick-up game systems might help.  I'll take any bet that once some new play technique or coolness catches in "your" game, you'll see it all over the place mere instants later. There's no telling what this may do to their own game though - if you "inject" too much from your own experience with games, you may well kill off their creation. "Grown-up" thinking is a seductive poison, especially in that age range.
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Manicrack
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Posts: 8


« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2004, 08:39:19 AM »

good points there,
however, couple of years ago i was one of those kids, and when I now look back at it, i missed a guiding hand through RPG's for a long time.
But showing them another way to play, doesn't mean you destroy theirs. In the end it's their decision when they say
"Nah, that's boring, I want the 150 Githyanki back."
There is a big difference between showing them alternatives and influencing their own opinion.

-Crack
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greyorm
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« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2004, 01:14:32 PM »

Whoa! Parent freaking out here...violence is good?
These are kids we are talking about, not fully grown adults like you and I. A guiding hand is definitely something necessary here if their play consists of *bash* *slam* *break* *hurt* *kill* and that's all.

That's not just play, that's desensitization to enacting violence. Play, for children (even teenage "children"), is the testing and development of social and personal boundaries. It isn't "just play" -- it's psychological, it's character building. Yeah, that doesn't apply to you and I, as adults, but kids, it sure does. I'm not looking to have any arguments about that: anyone can go look up the studies themselves, anyone with kids can likely verify it in their own households.

Next consider, as a parent, I wouldn't look very kindly upon an adult-led Gaming Club for kids that catered to violence -- and that's something else to think about very seriously in running any sort of club for kids.

This isn't Gamism versus Narrativism here -- you can have bloody, lay-down, ass-kicking Narrativism as much as you can have it in Gamism. In the end, it isn't a matter of trying to force "the One True Way" of play upon anyone, so much as it is trying guide young minds towards healthier and more complex expressions of their imagination.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Sean
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« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2004, 01:41:03 PM »

I worry that this general discussion is going to take Paka's thread off topic, Greyorm. Maybe it's worth an RPG theory thread on 'play with kids' if you want to go into more detail here. I'll just say for my part that when I was seven-ten years old I really got off on all the violent fantasizing that RPGs gave me the opportunity to do, and I'm thankful for it. I had a lot of nastiness in me anyway and I think killing orcs and the froghemoth was a better way to get some of that out of my system than say beating up other kids at school would have been. Many of the other kids in my neighborhood got out those urges through actual physical or sexual violence against other kids (and this is way more common than anyone likes to think about, speaking of statistics) and it was notable that the D&D/TFT/Microgame crowd at my grade school by and large did not participate in much of that except as the occasional victim.
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