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Making Gamers the Old Fashioned Way

by
 

Hello, and welcome to this obligatory column. Most editors get to do this column once in their lifetime, and finally it's my turn. In fact, somewhere in my "books on editing" there's a template, let me see if I can find it. Ah, here it is. Boy, this really does make column-writing easier!


"Dearest Readers,
In just the past week, I've come to understand a lot more about the way the world is. Since the birth of [child's name here], my world has opened up. Suddenly, there's a new perspective. And as editor of [name of publication], I think it's important that I share this with you.
As [name of baby] first looked up at me and cooed, I realized that soon little [cute name for child] would be a school[boy/girl], then in college, and finally out in the world. What sort of world will [he/she] face? It's the challenge of our generation today to make sure that world is a good one.
Which is why I will be working even harder on [name of magazine]. Part of our mission is to make the world a better place. We do this is small ways, through our every action. Why, just by fostering open discussion of [focus of magazine], or by choosing to do the right thing by using products of [name of advertiser who paid the most] instead of [name of advertiser that stiffed us], we can make a world safe for the children of tomorrow.
Which is why, as the year unfolds, we hope that you will enjoy the ever-increasing quality of [name of magazine]. Because we're not just doing it for ourselves-- we're doing it for the children.
Sincerely,
[editor's name here]

...

Hmmm...

Maybe I was supposed to fill in those blanks or something. In any case, I hope you are all teary-eyed and dewy at the thought of new generations of gamers appearing through the miracle of childbirth. At least the template had some use-- while you were reading, I had a moment to pop off and change a diaper. Which in itself suggests a fascinating analogy about the process of editing and the primary role of an editor, but alas, no time to expouse that here.

In reality, the miracle isn't just the birth, but the dedication. Now, I've committed to an 18-year job (albiet one that has no particular hiring requirements). It's also interesting that raising a child is a lot harder than working a job. I get to spend 8 hours a day doing technical work, but at the end of that, I get to go home. No more. My life will change now that I'm a parent.

How this will affect gaming is something we've already planned for. As half of a gaming couple, we're taken as a given two great truths:

  1. Only one of us can go out to a game on any given night, and
  2. We can play any RPG at our house... as long as it takes less than two hours and can survive a random interruption.

In many ways, this is reducing gaming to the level of TV-- short bursts of gaming, somewhat detached from any actual family interaction. The difference is that it is a social interaction. And having a child takes enough time from us that we need a social escape, whether together or individually.

Gamers are our primary social group these days, especially since we got involved in live action gaming (you know, LARP, i.e. the satanists who do midnight masses in costume, instead of just casting demonic spells from their AD&D books at the table.) Almost all of our friends game.

In fact, we occassionally try to get together with our gaming friends to specifically not-game. Talking about games is forbidden for those nights, and conversations are kept to the usual topics. Which usually ends up meaning that we talk about games by the end of the night, since that's the one connecting thing we share.

We have better luck when it's just another couple besides us. Then we can talk about our other loves-- food, intellectual stuff, and couples kinds of topics. But we're no longer a couple now, we're a trio, so undoubtably that dynamic will change.

So the fundamental question becomes "given that we'll have less time for gaming ourselves, can we make up for that by raising a gaming child to increase the ranks?" There are two schools of thought on this. One is that a person will automatically enjoy what it is exposed to as a child. The other is that a person will automatically hate and reject that which it was exposed to as a child.

Hmmm... sort of leaves that issue a little unresolved. The "Women in Gaming" list has discussed these issues a bit, which is in itself telling: that raising a gaming child is seen as a woman's issue moreso than, say, a Games Workshop issue. When in reality, GW (or any other publisher) has more at stake, really. This is future market shares we're talking about.

I know of only one publisher that actively courts the younger children market, Inner City Designs. They make Fuzzy Heroes, the minis game for stuffies. And they'll cheerfully give little kids stuffed animals to play the game with. Stuffed animals plus gaming is definitely the ultimate way to get that gaming started early.

Which is why we arranged to get a stuffed fleece Cthulhu from Pagan Publishing. We want our child to have the ultimate power-miniature for gaming. She'll rule the Fuzzy miniatures arena!

Now, if you don't mind, my little one is calling, so I must go.

Until next time,
Sandy
sandy@rpg.net
Dedicated to Ivy

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