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Author Topic: So now I work in an elementary school after-school program  (Read 14565 times)
Callan S.
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« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2004, 03:23:52 PM »

Honestly, young boys are attracted to fighting like lion cubs fight with each other so as to practice taking a kill latter in life. It's instinctual. It'd also be rather perverse as an adult male, after having gone through a youth of fun wrestling, computer fighting games and other fun simulated conflicts, to say 'Oh no, I got the chance to form an opinion on fighting, and since I think it's bad, I'm making suure you don't get the same chance I did'.

Anyway, that sort of discussion can go on forever.

Personally I'm somewhat a pacifist myself and see senseless killing...or especially gleeful wanton killing, as quite repulsive. But the fun thing is, a 'You reduced him to 0 HP, now he's dead' is easily changed to 'You reduced him to 0 HP, now he's unconcious and ready to be sent to jail!'.

I really don't have a problem with young kids getting the message that bad guys should be knocked out/incapacitated and then dragged off to jail (or even left to nurse their bruises and think about not being so evil). Yes, this is a simplistic message and somewhat flawed. But really I'm not going to change on it, so that means I'm not going to mesh very well with anyone else who finds it unpleasant. If I'm failing to mesh so much that it's spoiling the thread I'll drop out (& perhaps start a new one). Basically boys are attracted to violence (which is one form of conflict, and were all exploring conflict here)...so funnel it to 'bad guys are stopped and sent to jail' violence.

StalkingBlue: I agree. I've been really surprised when I've quietly groaned at some awful bit in a kids show my 4 y.o. son is watching, but he's turned around and loudly said 'No, it's good, I like this!!'. The tone of how he said it was most important...the tone said 'I've just figured out some knowledge (this TV program is good) and I'm really worried I'm going to find out I'm wrong (because I pretty much accept my dads opinion without much question)'. God, I couldn't even grunt in disatisfaction without influencing him and making him feel his preference might be incorrect.

Manicrack: But from what I see, the guiding hand needs some guiding too. Imagine this was about sport...if they'd developed their own sport but were having arguements about it, you could tell them about how your own sport had the same problem and what processes you used to try and work it out. However, telling them to stop playing their sport and play the way you do so as to avoid arguements is a lot different, you'd have to agree?
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Philosopher Gamer
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greyorm
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« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2004, 07:12:40 PM »

We can talk about "oh, I think it was good for me" and "kids like violence" or "boys will be boys" all we'd like, but I'll stick to the facts put forth by studies of the subject of fantasy violence and real violence: which is that there is a very strong correlation between the two. This is generally considered to be a bad thing, though whatever a parent decides for their own kids is up to them.

Here's the thing: we're talking about children who are at an age where they don't know the difference between pretend violence and real violence; yes, they may be able to recite to you what the difference is, but for the developing mind, there literally isn't a real difference. A mind at that age is still trying to discover limits and boundaries, trying to figure out the world, categorize it, organize it, and fit itself into it -- psychologically, for a child's brain, all input is valued equally, including "fake" input from tv and such.

My main point with all that is that if Judd is going to run a Gaming Club for kids of ages K-5, he is suddenly the responsible adult, and thus responsible (in a very real and legal sense) for the club activities and the children's safety and health, mental and physical, regardless of how he, I, or you feel about the violence issue, and the above is what he's up against legally.

Now, I'm not saying, "Get rid of all the violence." I am saying, "Make consequences count. SHOW consequences, even if they're off-stage to the action. Offer options." Though, honestly, the howls of agony and horror at the suggestion that violence isn't good or acceptable, that guiding these kids towards stories and characterization (or even away from violence) is wrong, are causing me to wrinkle up my nose at the amount of testosterone being released into the air.

As I said, as a parent, I would be incredibly incensed to learn an adult was encouraging empty violence in any form with my kids -- yep, as an RPGer, as a video-gamer, as a guy who likes bloody fantasy violence, as someone involved with the martial arts, I say that. You can bet there are other parents out there like me, and that's a world of trouble for Judd if and when it happens (and I'd bet more on the when than an if).

It doesn't matter what you argue here, or how you argue it, about kids and violence. It simply doesn't matter whether or not you're right and I'm wrong. The only way for Judd to cover his ass in this situation is for him to make certain he creates a club that is about more than the violent slaughter-fests these kids have thus far engaged in. Whether you agree or not that it is harmful, if he doesn't do that, there's a world of legal hurt staring him down the nose from concerned and angry parents. I'm dead serious.

Knowlege of that should help him decide what sorts of RPGs and RPing habits the club should promote and (let's face it) teach.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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eef
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« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2004, 07:33:08 PM »

About fantasy violence:  imagine what happens when the first parent complains that the teacher is teaching their kid to kill things, and takes the issue to the principle.  The teacher will be in an awfully tough spot.
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Lorenzo Rubbo-Ferraro
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« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2004, 07:57:45 PM »

(deleted post) - My apologoies for posting twice, my bandwith has slowed to a crawl. My reply is further down.
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Manicrack
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« Reply #19 on: September 25, 2004, 07:58:10 PM »

well, I guess there is one important thing to teach young gamers:
That games are not reality.
oh and by the way, 93% of all statistics are made up. :)

Quote from: Noon
Manicrack: But from what I see, the guiding hand needs some guiding too. Imagine this was about sport...if they'd developed their own sport but were having arguements about it, you could tell them about how your own sport had the same problem and what processes you used to try and work it out. However, telling them to stop playing their sport and play the way you do so as to avoid arguements is a lot different, you'd have to agree?


I totally agree, that's why i like judd's aproach to let those kids make up their own rules. But, using your sports example, before maing up your own sport, you should maybe try out a few others, to see what elements you like. Then you bring them all together in your own sport.

greyorm, we can really get into this discussion, but i think this is the wrong place.
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The mind lies somewhere between insanity and madness.
Lorenzo Rubbo-Ferraro
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« Reply #20 on: September 25, 2004, 07:58:15 PM »

Violence debate aside,

I would definitely go with Walts initial suggestion. You could do something simple like introduce the character sheet, let them list their kewl powerz on there, and then give them a dice pool to distribute amongst the powerz.

The DM could just pick a resistance according to the description he reads of the monster and the players then have to roll with an appropriate power to beat it. Something like that. This sort of mimics the collection cards that they are all into.

However I would highly recommend at least trying some of Zak’s games so that they don’t become ‘conditioned’ by the muck that all role playing games are about killing monsters.

I have a niece who is the same age as your kids and whose teacher introduced them to D&D. I showed her Shadows and we had a lot of fun playing it-she really dug it. In fact I whipped up the game on the spur of the moment at breakfast time, so in the same way you could probably just say ‘let’s play a game’- zero prep time needed-and they would probably have no idea that they are playing a ‘role playing game’ or associate it with the one that they play.

Cheers,
Lorenzo.
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Manicrack
Member

Posts: 8


« Reply #21 on: September 25, 2004, 07:58:30 PM »

well, I guess there is one important thing to teach young gamers:
That games are not reality.
oh and by the way, 93% of all statistics are made up. :)

Quote from: Noon
Manicrack: But from what I see, the guiding hand needs some guiding too. Imagine this was about sport...if they'd developed their own sport but were having arguements about it, you could tell them about how your own sport had the same problem and what processes you used to try and work it out. However, telling them to stop playing their sport and play the way you do so as to avoid arguements is a lot different, you'd have to agree?


I totally agree, that's why i like judd's aproach to let those kids make up their own rules. But, using your sports example, before maing up your own sport, you should maybe try out a few others, to see what elements you like. Then you bring them all together in your own sport.

greyorm, we can really get into this discussion, but i think this is the wrong place.
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The mind lies somewhere between insanity and madness.
komradebob
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Posts: 462


« Reply #22 on: September 25, 2004, 08:37:46 PM »

Paka:
Are you sure you aren't looking through the wrong end of the microscope?

I mean, here are kids hashing out how to roleplay, largely by themselves.

You might be the one that can really benefit here by taking the opportunity to observe these little gamer-chimps in their natural habitat.

Rather than try to teach them how to roleplay, why don't you watch what they're already doing and see what ideas you can draw for your own system design.

Someone talked about the cliquishness of young boys, and dominance behavior. Doesn't this have something to say about system, and credibility, and imput into the SIS?

k-bob
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Robert Earley-Clark

currently developing:The Village Game:Family storytelling with toys
Judd
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« Reply #23 on: September 25, 2004, 08:42:39 PM »

Quote from: Lorenzo Rubbo-Ferraro


However I would highly recommend at least trying some of Zak’s games so that they don’t become ‘conditioned’ by the muck that all role playing games are about killing monsters.


http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=12837

More responses to the fascinating posts herein later.

Thank you, Forge-ites,  for all of the enthusiastic responses.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #24 on: September 25, 2004, 09:25:53 PM »

Hey greyorm,

Your working multiple angles at once here; There are studies (and I've heard of studies to the opposite), the kids are learning about the world and thus need not to learn about this subject, its a legal issue, were being too ballsy and testosterony, the parents will kick up a stink.

All I can say is these kids were enacting combat from final fantasy. Someone, somewhere let the genie out of the bottle already.

And I for one don't want to see 'Violence is bad...so we should get all our concepts of story and roleplay into their minds because the way were doing it is healthy'. I'm getting the feeling the enforcement of the play method is justified by the current violent content. About a thousand 'How do I make them roleplay and not just hack and slash?' questions from D&D, palladium and other boards come to mind where the GM has taken it upon himself to convert the heathens rather than get some sort of mix of his preferences and player preferences.

The issue of violence? Whatever. Instead of forcing our idea of story and roleplay in there, lets just assume a change of conflict. Say they are miners, mining at high speed into an alien planet, for diamonds, amidst billowing volcanos. Or they are round the planet speed racers, using ultra suped up racing vehicles. Plenty of nifty conflict there.

Just as long as the percieved violence problem isn't fixed by replacing parts of their play that aren't actually broken. Indeed, those parts could be in better condition than our own...it's just the content they revolve around is contentious. Scuse the irony, but it's a baby and bathwater situation. ;)
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Philosopher Gamer
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Callan S.
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« Reply #25 on: September 25, 2004, 09:45:01 PM »

Hi Manicrack,
 I think they already are drawing on other 'sports', like final fantasy. I think they will more happily warp that into what they want, than they will warp something an adult they respect shows them. Ones just a video game, the other is living breathing culture from another human, a grown up at that. Just as much as greyorm has suggested kids can be overly influenced by violence, I think kids can be overly influenced by the grown ups preferences. Indeed, I think greyorms claim has substance only in that kids will really absorb the way a respected grownup presents things. So you can't show them other methods of story or role...their just too easy to influence into accepting them until they, say, hit about 25 or so and find a forge like place of their own and have this same discussion.
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Judd
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« Reply #26 on: September 25, 2004, 10:36:26 PM »

Violence is a huge issue for this age-group and working out how to deal with it is important to me, as it was to Mithras in his informative and fascinating posts.

I do not want to have violent free-for-alls within my games at the after-school program.  When the students are done playing at their diceless D&D/Final Fantasy hybrid they frequently choose which monsters they represent, go to the playgroud and pretend to battle.  I frequently have to ask them to put down sticks and a wiffle ball bat that are routinely their imaginary swords and weapons.

Playing pretend has an effect on their behavior.  I don't care that we all did it.  I did it.  I hear ya.  I wasn't as young as these kids but these kids aren't me.  I am not interested in a pro-violence argument for these games.  If violence comes up and I am SURE it will, rest assured that I won't just jump on the kid's case, sweep it under the rug and be done with it.  My method for confronting the issue will be creative and thorough.

However, I won't be running games with breaking down doors in dungeons, killing orcs and taking their stuff.  They will have plenty of time to do that all night throughout junior high, will tweaked on caffeine.

This isn't a GNS issue.  This isn't me being anti-Gamism or what-have-you.

Please know that violence will be dealt with and I would like more discussion about it.

Monkeywrench was perfect because it encourages team play, has adventure and action and even had some violence when I ran it but it wasn't thoughtless and I talked to the student about it afterwards.

Allow me to make it more clear, I am not going to stamp out any and all violence but when violence comes up it is going to be discussed and they will leave the table thinking about it and how it is used in stories and in life and the differences between the two and the similiarities.

How to do this in an adventure game and still have kids in the club is going to be the tricky part.  We'll see how it goes.

Thanks again for the discussion on this thread as it has gotten me thinking about how I am going to have to set this all up.
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Sean
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« Reply #27 on: September 26, 2004, 03:05:53 AM »

The only professional psychologist I know, who does work in the area, says that the studies are inconclusive: you can find some suggesting a correlation and others that suggest there are none. But even though he's an expert, he's only one.

I think giving kids material to cope with their violent and sexual urges can be a good thing to do for them. As an adult doing this you do have to decide carefully how you're going to do it, because you can get in trouble with the uptight. Better to give them the means to do it for themselves surreptitiously, I guess.

That's the last thing I have to say on that subject here. Good luck, Paka; I already gave you my system thoughts on rpg.net. Zak's games of course seem like great choices as well.


Edit: Paka, I think that's good. You can let them work through the hard-core material on their own, which they'll be more comfortable with anyway and won't put you at any risk. In your role as an older person I think talking to them about what the violence etc. that sometimes occurs in-game in a responsible way without shying away from it or dumbing things down definitely sounds like the way to go.

They can go get the occult manuals and summon spirits at the graveyard on their own.
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greyorm
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« Reply #28 on: September 27, 2004, 09:46:22 AM »

Cool, Paka, sounds good. I'd like to hear more about how you are going to manage it once you get it worked out. I'm trying to find ways to introduce my son to gaming without a driving focus on the violence -- since, as you've noted with the sticks on the playground, it tends to get acted out afterwards.

That's the same reason I don't let my kids watch, for example, Dragonball Z anymore (or play violent video games). After watching the show, "Dad, he HIT me!" and the response, "But we were just playing Dragonball Z!"

And that from kids who know better, who, if asked, "Is hitting wrong?" will answer, "Yes, hitting is wrong. It hurts other people." So, yeah, they "know" the difference...but it's really obvious that line isn't set yet for them. So, please keep us updated on your development, and your strategy. I, for one, am very interested.

You might wish to check out the APA's site (the American Psychological Association) for information on how to deal with exposure to violence and kids: they have a number of excellent suggestions about how to discuss the effects of violence with kids (as well as what a child of a given age can process and understand, which will be particularly important in game choice and scenario construction for the age ranges you're looking at).

Quote from: Sean
I think giving kids material to cope with their violent and sexual urges can be a good thing to do for them.

Unfortunately, Sean, "coping" is far different a thing than "indulging." One cannot learn to cope with anything by simply indulging in it. It sounds like Judd is trying to do exactly as I'd do in his situation, though, by limiting the amount and making sure it isn't empty of consequence or consideration by the kids when it does occur in a game.

Quote
They can go get the occult manuals and summon spirits at the graveyard on their own.

Tangentially: that a vastly amusing choice of comment considering what faith of minister I am; however, to the current point, it certainly looks like a crack at me (or anyone else concerned by violent content): villification via absurdity. Even if it is not, I can't see its place in this discussion, nor its value in context.

Quote from: Noon
I think kids can be overly influenced by the grown ups preferences. Indeed, I think greyorms claim has substance only in that kids will really absorb the way a respected grownup presents things. So you can't show them other methods of story or role...their just too easy to influence into accepting them

Which was exactly my point! Bluntly, kids need to be influenced, that's how they grow. You can't raise them in a vaccum and let them "just develop naturally." Because "natural" development is not going to produce functional members of a society...that's why parents exist, it's their purpose: they're guides. Other adults in positions of authority or influence over those children end up in the same position, just as is Judd as the adult head of the club.

The point is, no matter what he does -- whether he backs off and lets them be, or intervenes and shows them other methods of play -- he's going to be influencing them and teaching them what they'll take as acceptable behavior. Certainly, it isn't an either-or street, he can teach them different methods and they can (and will) choose for themselves among them (the same as kids choose sports or television shows from among the multitude of possibilities they are presented with).

Ultimately, however, I'm not exactly certain what all the concern and hubbub surrounding Judd's "impressing" things upon these kids, or the "horror" regarding the possibility of him injecting story and role into their gaming is all about.

Quote
Your working multiple angles at once here; There are studies (and I've heard of studies to the opposite), the kids are learning about the world and thus need not to learn about this subject, its a legal issue, were being too ballsy and testosterony, the parents will kick up a stink.

It is obvious you were writing this response in a hurry (from the errors in the above grammar and punctuation), which means you're looking to simply refute me rather than listen to what I'm saying. I'm not working multiple "angles" -- whatever that means -- but until you're ready to engage in conversation, rather than simply defend, there's not much point in trying to clear the air.

For those interested in exploring the subject, since 1992 every major health organization in the United States -- including the APA, the American Medical Association, the National Institutes of Mental Health, the Surgeon General's office, and the US CDC -- has stated the same conclusion after numerous, lengthy studies: that there is a strong correlation between fantasy violence and real aggressive behavior. Check it out if you're so inclined on the websites and journals of those organizations. Interesting stuff.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Adam Cerling
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WhiteRat


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« Reply #29 on: September 27, 2004, 10:07:38 AM »

Quote from: greyorm
For those interested in exploring the subject, since 1992 every major health organization in the United States -- including the APA, the American Medical Association, the National Institutes of Mental Health, the Surgeon General's office, and the US CDC -- has stated the same conclusion after numerous, lengthy studies: that there is a strong correlation between fantasy violence and real aggressive behavior. Check it out if you're so inclined on the websites and journals of those organizations. Interesting stuff.


Correlation is not causation.

If violent people are attracted to violent entertainment, it does not follow that violent entertainment creates violent people.

Have you ever read Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence? It's an easy read that makes thoughtful, challenging points. Highly worth a trip to your local library.
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Adam Cerling
In development: Ends and Means -- Live Role-Playing Focused on What Matters Most.
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