Opinions sought: Much younger players?

Jeff Wilder

First Post
So a strange thing happened during a game session today. First, the quick set-up: We play every Sunday (give or take) and every other Saturday in my gameroom, which has a large window open to the gated private alley behind my house. We typically keep the window open (with a screen).

So today, after about two hours of playing, I hear, from outside, "Hello! Hello?!" My chair is nearest the window, so I roll back and look down, to see an attractive young woman with a small stack of books.

"Hello?" I ask.

"Hi! What are you guys doing?"

"Um ... " I look and shrug at the other players, then back down into the alley. "We're playing Dungeons and Dragons."

"I thought so," she says, and shows me the top book on her stack (Cityscape). "Can I come in and watch?"

Understand that at this point I thought she was around 18 or 20 or so. "Well ... sure." So she does. Up close she looks much younger -- my guess is 13 or 14, but the others think 15 or 16. In any event, I'm starting to feel a little weird about it. We're four guys and a woman, all between 30 and 39, and we've just invited a teenage girl in? Does Dateline NBC do this show?

In any event, it turned out she was my directly-behind neighbor, and she'd told her mom where she was going. Anyway, she had to leave for a while, but after we found out she'd told her mom, we said she could come back later and watch the rest of the session. Which she did, and this time she brought her twin brother Marcus. It turned out they were 16.

Now, I strongly believe in getting younger players involved in the game, so when they ask if they could join the game, I'm torn. "First things first," I tell them. "You need to talk to your parents about it. We can see where it goes from there."

"Well, do you want to meet our mom right now? She's right downstairs." Since there were several players there, I figured it was as good a time as any. Their mother, Karen, came up and met us and -- of course -- marvelled at our geekness. I'm pretty sure we came off as harmless, which of course we are, and Karen herself asked for contact information. We left it at that ... completely up to their mother to contact us if she decides it's okay.

The thing is, when I was talking to my girlfriend on the phone afterward, her reaction was ... fairly extreme. She thinks it would be completely inappropriate for us to game with 16-year-olds. I was a little taken aback, and keep in mind that I was concerned about the propriety myself. But I kinda feel like as long as you're completely open with the parents and make sure they know it's entirely their decision ... well, I'm not really sure what the big deal is. If they do join us, we'll have to dial back maybe 30 percent on the ribaldry at the table, but it seems like everybody thinks helping young players get involved in the hobby would make that worth it.

What do people think about this?
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i dont know how every one feels but i run a game with an 12 year old and a 16 year old keep in mind im 30 and as long as u keep it age friendly then ya i see no issue with it at all. they guys im running are really enjoying the game . i just mkae sure i dont go to adult with emand it all seems to work out fine. in the end i think its all in the players and the group. i myself would say if u guys are ok with it let em play .


Front Range Warlock
Jeff Wilder said:
The thing is, when I was talking to my girlfriend on the phone afterward, her reaction was ... fairly extreme. She thinks it would be completely inappropriate for us to game with 16-year-olds.

Unless you're injecting overtly adult material into your game sessions, I don't see an issue.

What do people think about this?

I do most of my gaming at local hobby shops and, at the one I frequent most often, the general rule is "if somebody wants to watch and/or join, let them" -- which is cool by me. I'm all about growing the hobby. In point of fact, at that particular hobby shop, it's not unusual for High School or Middle School kids to join up for a brief stint in games run over the Summer. Which I think is great.

There was a time when I was caught up in being "artsy" and had decided that any youthful player would dash these aspirations on the rocks. I was wrong. I found that, if you give youthful players a chance, they're all about having fun just like us 30-something and, if you give them verbal ques in-game, they'll be all too happy to run with them (most of the time). In fact, my experience with allowing younger players into my games has been nothing but positive for the most part.


In my opinion, as long as their parents are fine with it, and you make sure you keep things "appropriate" then there should be no problems.

I've often gamed with younger players, but usually only in a semi-public setting (game club attached to a game store). Only recently did I invite any to our home game, but we had been gaming with them for several years before that.

Jeff Wilder

First Post
Doug McCrae said:
Did you use that word when you told your girlfriend the story? If so, I think I know why she was opposed to the idea.
Only when she asked. (She asked not out of jealousy, but rather because she's snobbishly ignorant about gaming, and thinks there's no such thing as an attractive woman who plays D&D.) Anyway, I hope that's not it ... if she and I can't use the term "attractive" with each other regarding other people, we've got serious problems that go way beyond her views on gaming (with youngsters or not).


First Post
Let them play. Ask the mother to come over and observe everyonce in a while, to make sure she is OK with the game content, and everyone's behaviour.

To be on the ultra safe side of things I would use your MP3 to record the game sessions, just in case accusations are ever made. Highly unlikely, I hope. But its always best to be safe rather than sorry.


WotC's bitch
I would think that if the parents are okay with it, that's the end of the matter. Unless you had lots of R-rated content in the game, but I'll assume that's not an issue.


First Post
I don't see a problem with it. When I first started gaming (ack that was early 80's) I was in middle school and was gaming with a crew of theater people in mostly their 30's. Unless you are doing off the wall sex or torture scenes it should be ok. Just make sure the parents know where their kid is etc.


Maybe it's because I've got cousins at regular intervals from my age (26) down to basically 0 years old. I've gamed with all of them as they round about 8 years old. Gaming with kids / teenagers is refreshing and they are awesome. They think fast and they're into different media than I am, so it really fills the game up with new ideas. My wife, even as a non-gamer, encourages me to bring people into the hobby (she loves hosting gamers). She also loves seeing me provide social direction to young people: She thinks it's a good sign for the upcoming debut of the baby ubermensch/ubermiss.


First Post
Well, I have to say I think you handled it perfectly, and made sure everyone clearly knew who was making the decision, ie, the kid's mother.

I play in a 42,38,32 group now and I have to admit adding a 16 or so year old would feel funny. I mean, I teach English to 16 year olds and that is ALL the interaction I generally desire with them.

But I am sure our group could adjust, but it would be up to the 16 year olds to be responsible gamers. They would need to play as much as we do, and not be canceling all the time. But if they can keep up with everyone, why not.

But i admit I would be leery of it and it would be a major adjustment.


I agree you handled this supremely... by the book, in fact. I think your GF is over-reacting a little; I can understand why, but it doesn't make her right.


Golden Procrastinator
As others have said, if the parents are OK with it, then there's nothing improper about it.

Of course, this doesn't mean that it will work great... gaming is a social activity and whether the social interaction between your group and those two kids can work depends on a lot of specific factors.

Keeper of Secrets

First Post
Younger players are fine (like your nephew or son or daughter). Younger players you do not know well is a different matter.

I really hate to sound lawsuit-happy (but hey, this is a country that loves litigation). I would not prevent them from playing but at the same time I would be very cautious about it. The last thing you need in your life is to have an underaged girl (or boy) accusing you of something.

I always encourage new people to play D&D but this is a situation that I would approach VERY carefully. Most likely the situation is harmless and nothing bad will come of it. But keep an eye out for anything strange.


First Post
Have to agree with most of the above. If the mom is cool with it and the other players are cool with it, try it out.
That said, the mention of recording the sessions someone made above might not be a bad idea either. Tell the mom that you plan on making a recording of the sessions that the kids are involved in and that she can review any and all of them any time she wants, and make sure that the kids know too. It sounds weird to do this, but working in the prison system and medicine, I have seen ALL kinds of lawsuits/criminal charges over stuff that any sane person would question. Plus, if everyone knows the sessions are being recorded, it will cut out most of the questionable possibilities before they happen.


Granted, as you are a known D&D player, if this girl runs away from home your place will be the first one they rip apart, looking for body parts. :D


First Post
I don't know, the idea of recording sessions is really weird and implies a serious lack of trust which will probably damage the game.

"I'm recording our sessions just in case you try and call me a child molester"
"Oh that's cool."



Liquid Awesome
My take on it is it's fine to let them play as long as it doesn't bother YOU or the rest of the group. You say that you can dial back the ribaldry by 30% and that's dandy. But do you WANT to dial back the ribaldry by 30%?

I can and have gamed with a lot of younger folks at the Game Days and as a matter of fact, my 6 year old daughter played with a group of us yesterday when we were playtesting AdamantineAngel's game that he plans on running. And I will say that most of those experiences have been very positive. In fact, our Game Days have been going on so long that a couple of young guys who started gaming at those when they were 14 are now going off to college! (Damn I'm getting old!)

But those are not my regular weekly session with my buddies who are my peers where we cuss and bitch and tell dirty jokes. I wouldn't really want to have to curtail that for the sake of letting some 16 year olds join the group.


First Post
As far as I'm concerned, 16 is old enough to do what they please. I wouldn't be concerned about my language with people who are old enough to have sex (legally, at least where I live - not sure about the American legalities).

I play in two groups, in one, we have 18 to near 50 (though I'm not sure of the exact ages), in the other we're from 16-26 - neither group can be at all thought to tone themselves back.

That said, I'm fairly restrained in any case, even if those I play with aren't and personally I'd let the young 'uns set the tone their comfortable at.

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