Friday, March 6, 2015

Home Grown Gaming

It’s a new month which means… 

[drum roll please]

… the Game Master’s Roundtable of Doom is back!  We have a terrific topic to discuss, and I’m very excited to read all of the different perspectives that will be flooding some great blogs over the next few days.

March’s topic comes to us courtesy of the great +Scott Robinson:

“How has your gaming and/or game mastering changed over time?”  

Home Grown Gaming

I've covered different aspects of this question on this blog before, so I'm going to try to consolidate my answers in this post.  As a thirty-five year old married father of three, I’ve had to adapt my gaming habits to meet the ever evolving time constraints I face.  I have been fortunate to build a career that allows me some extra spending money, giving me the opportunity to play just about any game I want, but I constantly need to consider my use of time.  When I do get to sit down to play tabletop role-playing games with fellow, adult gamers, sometimes I’m the only one at my “table”… 

…and the other players are sitting at their own, in their own houses.  

Much of my roleplaying over the last six years has been online, using programs like Skype, Maptool, and Google Hangouts to connect with my players.  I’m certainly not alone in this matter, as I’m sure that many of my readers play in similar games.  Some gamers play online out of necessity, perhaps due to geographic limitations or lack of adequate babysitting.  Others want to play niche games, and need to venture online to find fellow indie-game enthusiasts.  Although I started as an online gamer out of necessity, I’ve come to realize that gaming on Google Hangouts is quite convenient, even for those who can have in-person games.

But the truth is, the biggest change I’ve experienced over the last several years is that I’ve found a way to play virtually any night of the week with a phenomenal group of people: my wife and kids.  

I choose to spend the majority of my game time, from video games to board games to RPG’s, with my family.  This has been an incredible experience, bringing our family closer together as well as giving us all a terrific creative outlet.  I know that some people will complain that they can’t get time to play because their spouse won’t let them go out, or they can’t find a babysitter, or they need to incorporate some family time.  


While this means that a player may not be able to roll dice as often with his old friends from college, they get the opportunity to grow their relationships with the people who (typically) matter most in their life.  Let’s not forget a significant benefit of having a “live-in” adventuring party:  you can pretty much play an RPG any night of the week!

Granted, there are some considerations that need to be taken if I want to throw dice with the family.  If it’s a weeknight, chances are we can’t spend four hours dungeon delving after school.  There is homework, dinner, and a reasonable bedtime to consider.  But brief, one-hour sessions are common in our house, especially when you include other tabletop games into the mix.  I also need to keep the age gap of my children in mind when we are choosing our games.  

My three children are 11, 8, and 4.  It’s not really “family friendly” in our house, unless the entire family gets involved.  When choosing board games long and complicated games like Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, and Firefly take a back seat to King of Tokyo, Dixit, and Wits and Wagers.  At least with the latter, my four-year old can sit at the table and follow along.  

Actually, it’s sometimes easier for Cooper, my four year old ball of fire, to focus on a short role-playing game rather than a board game.  For young children, waiting their turn can be difficult, but at least in an RPG, they are hearing a story play out between their turns.  This tends to keep my son's attention, as he listens to what his mother and sisters do with their own characters.

I know that gaming with your family is not always the perfect option, and I freely admit that you won’t always get to play the exact games you’d like.  But for our family it’s been truly remarkable, and we are continuously amazed at how we’ve grown in the last couple of years.  Sure my gaming habits have had to change, and I’m still several years away from getting Cooper behind the controls of a battlemech.  But given how fast time flies when you are raising your family, I’m okay with waiting a few more years.  

What is the Game Master’s Roundtable of Doom?  

The Game Master’s Roundtable of Doom is a meeting of the minds of tabletop RPG bloggers and GMs.  Every GM has his or her favorite system, but in these articles we endeavor to transcend a particular system or game and discuss topics that are relevant to GMs and players of all roleplaying games.  

If you are a blogger, and you’d like to participate in the Game Master’s Roundtable of Doom, send an email to Lex Starwalker at and supply the URL of your blog.

Here’s our current roll-call for March, 2015:

Other Family Adventures

If you are interested in some of the other posts I’ve written about gaming with children, here are a few:

Also, my family has recently taken “Living 4 Crits” to YouTube, so be sure to check out our channel.  My eldest daughter Carrie is my co-host as we offer our insight on gaming and gaming culture.  We plan on doing some interesting features including game tutorials, actual play videos, interviews, and product reviews… all from a family-friendly perspective.

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