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Subject: A 12-year-old's first game convention -- any tips? rss

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True Blue Jon
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My dad and my niece (who is 12 years old) are going to be joining me at Game Storm this year (a local game convention). This will be my niece's first game convention and I was hoping for some tips from those who have brought 12-year-olds to game conventions about what to expect and plan for.
 
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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I have successfully brought both of my kids to game conventions, at a slightly younger age. I would make a few suggestions:

1. I always stress sportsmanship above all things. Win or lose with class. Don't get upset.

2. Some conventions have events listed by age appropriateness. Make sure you stick with those, even if it is a game she knows.

3. Even if events are listed as 'all ages' I usually double-check with the tournament director and other players at the start of the game to make sure they are OK playing with a kid. If not, we just go find something else to do.

4. Bring a couple of 'kid-friendly' games with you. Sometimes there is no good event open. Usually there are other kids floating around, and you can put an impromptu game together. Last convention I was at we brought Coyote, and that worked really well.

Have fun!

Geoff
 
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Barry Goldstein
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You could look ahead at the schedule...find games she might like, and teach her the rules beforehand...

Or you could host a session with one of her favorites, and she would probably feel pretty great co-hosting a session with you...

Also....plan an escape route. Something could rub her the wrong way, and she might be wanting to leave just as you start your favorite event...


(when I am not struggling with my game addiction I am a clinical psychologist)
 
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Helen Holzgrafe
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Bring munchies, water, munchie money, and a cell phone for everyone in your group!!!! Do bring several familiar, short games to fill idle moments.

Nothing is worse than a kid who's run out of energy but wants to finish that game. A very small backpack with a water bottle or two and some granola bars, wheat thins, string cheese and apple slices or something (and some to share with her fellow gamers at the table). Also napkins and maybe handwipes.

Remind her to ask before eating when using someone else's game, but with pretty clean food like that the answer is almost always, yes. That's what the napkins and wipes are for is mostly if the owner of the game is nervous about food.

A cell phone in that backpack is a must also. She may get in a game with other kids while you go off and play something else. It's the best way to meet up after that. We have also found it's needed when you are standing in the lunch line and the hot dogs run out and she's halfway across the building.

We first brought my two when they were 12 and 14. It was our first convention also so I had no idea at all what would happen. They ended up playing Diplomacy for 12 straight hours with us bringing them food in between our various games.

At most conventions I have been at there is a kid's room where games for kids her age and younger are hosted just for them. Most even have little mini-tournaments with small prizes, too. Our guys both felt that was too little for them so I don't have direct experience about that.

And just this one convention. Don't get into a 6 hour Titan game you can't get out of if she needs you for whatever reason. Go around and play pickup games of the shorter games or get in on some demo games. Once you see how she does, then you can go for the day long game.

All four of us usually try to get into a Settlers or Ticket to Ride Tournament. That's a great way to meet new people and be nearby her while she plays with new people, too. My younger son made it into the final game of a Ticket to Ride Tournament and had a blast doing it.

At our first convention it was us parents that got tired and cranky, not the kids. They were fine...

All in all don't worry. She'll have a great time and meet a lot of fun people.

-Helen
 
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Nate Cockerilll
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Don't take them
 
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Barak Engel
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engelstein wrote:
I have successfully brought both of my kids to game conventions, at a slightly younger age. I would make a few suggestions:

1. I always stress sportsmanship above all things. Win or lose with class. Don't get upset.


And make SURE you discuss with her than many adults do not behave like that, and that she should take it stoically when she encounters some jerk who doesn't have their manners...
 
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True Blue Jon
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Thank you! There's a lot of good advice in this thread.
 
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Randy Cox
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I used to bring a youngster to WBC, back when it was called AvalonCon. He started attending when he was 11 or 12 and continued for a few years. I had opportunities to bring him to other cons (Origins, DragonCon) but didn't, as they aren't nearly as kid-friendly.

I don't know about the one you're going to, but if there isn't a specific children's activity "stream," I might reconsider. If they are already setting up "junior only" events, then you're set--your niece can meet new people and play in a reasonable environment. If they don't have such an arrangement in place, then you should keep her under your wing the entire time. I did that, too. When he was too old for the "junior only events" (once he was 13, that was over), I just had him tag along with me, playing what I played in the open gaming areas or the occasional tournament. Eventually, he'd run into someone he knew from the prior year (not something you can fall back on) and went his own way for a few hours. Worked out great.

As to munchies and such, I never had to deal with that. We ate together for meals and he had some pocket change to purchase a soda from time to time. As a Luddite, we didn't do the cell phone thing, but if you're into that, you can surely do that.

Overall, I'd say that all should be fine, as long as you don't mind giving up a good deal of your freedom to hang with your niece most of the time. To me, that's a good tradeoff.
 
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Mike Frantz
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My understanding is that Gamestorm is extremely family/kid friendly. I believe Chris Brooks, aka Captain Caveman, aka Sunriver Games/Havoc dude, aka Geek of the Week last week, will be running his annual Family Games event on Sunday morning. You might contact him about more info..

I'm thinking about coming, and bringing my 6 year old on Sunday morning for that big event.

Mike
 
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