Thursday, September 16, 2010

Child's Play?

There is an expanding market for kid's RPGs these days. Dungeons & Dragons is over 30 years old. A 10-year old kid who got one of those early boxed sets back in the '70's has grown into his 40's by now, and probably has a career and family. So whether he's looking to pass on the legacy of fun that RPGs have given him over the years or simply trying to demonstrate to his kids what daddy does with his friends every Saturday night, having an RPG that they can relate to is becoming remarkably valuable.

To fill this gap, games like Faery's Tale and Meddling Kids have arisen. But what about AiO? Is it a kid's game?

Yes and no.

Yes, Oz is something that is generally considered "kid stuff." Yes, I wrote the game to be accessible to beginners, regardless of age. Yes, the rules are actually pretty simple compared to most RPGs.

But no, I did not design the game with any particular age group in mind. I've played it with a group of kids and I've played it with a group of twenty-somethings and both groups had a lot of fun. And I don't plan on revising the game to make it more "kid-friendly."

For one thing, neither L. Frank Baum or Gary Gygax, father of RPGs, ever talked down to their audience. In fact, many early gamers give Gygax significant credit for their vocabulary, as they often had to reference the dictionary in order to figure out what he was saying.

And even in a kid's RPG, the person you need to explain things to is not necessarily the player, but the Narrator. It's more common for the Narrator to be a grown-up in a group of kids rather than the other way around, so writing the book for a 5th grade reading level is going to be insulting to a college-educated adult.

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