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Subject: Best practice for children gaming at small cons? rss

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Eric Engelmann
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I run a couple of small (300+ gamers) board gaming conventions in the DC metro area. To date, we've not had a program catering to children, other than offering discounted admission, yet we have a good number of kids in attendance. Have you seen a kid-centered program that seemed to work well at a small convention? I'd like to copy another con's success, if possible.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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Michael McElroy

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Geosphere wrote:


I know (hope) this is sarcasm, but it's why we've never been to a con. I don't have a gaming group other than my kids but the cons just don't seem like they would be welcoming to families. Maybe I'm getting the wrong perspective, but the fact that this question is being asked or that there are "special days" lead me to believe it's not the most inviting place for them to be otherwise.
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Robert Manning
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Although I have yet to attend, I have heard good things about KublaCon's set up: http://www.kublacon.com/infoboxes/young_players.htm. Note, however, that their scale is somwhat larger than yours.
 
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thelocalbaptist wrote:
Maybe I'm getting the wrong perspective, but the fact that this question is being asked or that there are "special days" lead me to believe it's not the most inviting place for them to be otherwise.


I've been attending a small (2,000?), local convention here in NJ for the last 5 years and in my experience it's not the kids that are the problem - it's the parents. More specifically in trying to use convention events as babysitting or expecting a young child to manage while they (the adults) are playing a game or wandering the floor.

To be clear, it's not all children (and parents) but I have been rather surprised more than once to see children running amok. I know the convention I attend has special rooms and events (movies, console gaming, etc...) scheduled for families, but I've never personally experienced any of them as I attend solo.

If I were being brutally honest, my very limited experience with the local convention scene suggests that they aren't great experiences for children, no. I'm sure there are exceptions but it just seems like you're potentially expecting a bit more than the average child can handle.
 
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Eric Engelmann
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thelocalbaptist wrote:
I know (hope) this is sarcasm, but it's why we've never been to a con. I don't have a gaming group other than my kids but the cons just don't seem like they would be welcoming to families. Maybe I'm getting the wrong perspective, but the fact that this question is being asked or that there are "special days" lead me to believe it's not the most inviting place for them to be otherwise.


Actually, we have many children attending, and their parents tell me they have a wonderful time. I'm just looking for ideas a small con could use to improve their experience. The kinetic games collection is popular, for example.
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Eric Engelmann
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Phantom Load wrote:
I've been attending a small (2,000?), local convention here in NJ for the last 5 years and in my experience it's not the kids that are the problem - it's the parents. More specifically in trying to use convention events as babysitting or expecting a young child to manage while they (the adults) are playing a game or wandering the floor.

To be clear, it's not all children (and parents) but I have been rather surprised more than once to see children running amok. I know the convention I attend has special rooms and events (movies, console gaming, etc...) scheduled for families, but I've never personally experienced any of them as I attend solo.

If I were being brutally honest, my very limited experience with the local convention scene suggests that they aren't great experiences for children, no. I'm sure there are exceptions but it just seems like you're potentially expecting a bit more than the average child can handle.


2000 gamers is a large convention, or certainly much larger than my local 300+ person cons. WBC has about 2000, and has an amazing juniors program, but I can't dedicate a room and shifts of volunteers they way they can. As for kids running amok, I've never seen this in the six cons I've run. Perhaps my area (suburban DC) is a bit unusual, given its extremely high education attainment and its professionals' obession with hot-housing their kids. In a recent Congress of Gamers, for example, second and third place overall in the adult tourneys were a couple of kids, I think 12 and 13. 7-10 year-olds at my cons seem to have no trouble playing medium level Eruos.
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Jason Sadler
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I've been to a few of the events in question and the kids mostly just seemed to be playing games sprinkled in with the adults. Lots of family units. Purely anecdotal, but all the kids seemed to be just as well behaved as the adults and just as involved in gaming.

thelocalbaptist wrote:
Geosphere wrote:


I know (hope) this is sarcasm, but it's why we've never been to a con. I don't have a gaming group other than my kids but the cons just don't seem like they would be welcoming to families. Maybe I'm getting the wrong perspective, but the fact that this question is being asked or that there are "special days" lead me to believe it's not the most inviting place for them to be otherwise.
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Eric Engelmann
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Some ideas for a kids program that might be supportable for a small con:

1. A small shelf with kid friendly games. Can't Stop, Splendor
2. Shift of volunteers to lead games (I'm thinking parents could lead one or two games in their area during their shift)
3. Awards for most victorious
4. A table of child accessible games in the Auction Store
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Gary Tanswell
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not sure if you have space but the UKGE had an area dedicated to childrens/family gaming, a decent selection of kid friendly games and people there to show you how to play the games... a face painter was there too as that's an easy way to keep kids quiet for a short period.
 
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Eric Engelmann
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gtanny wrote:
not sure if you have space but the UKGE had an area dedicated to childrens/family gaming, a decent selection of kid friendly games and people there to show you how to play the games... a face painter was there too as that's an easy way to keep kids quiet for a short period.

That's the practice at the bigger cons, but too much for 350-400 player cons, I think. There is some possibility of having a corner of a larger open gaming area reserved for youth gaming.

P.S.
Our first volunteer will be leading a game of King of Tokyo on as many as three tables. I'm hoping other adults will step in to build an extended gaming schedule dedicated to children 6-12 (I expect a few 5-year-old prodigies, as well). We're calling the program "Kids' Corner."
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