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Old 02-03-2023, 08:08 AM   #11
Embassy of Time
 
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

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Originally Posted by DeadParrot View Post
Have them write up a half page or so about their characters.
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Maybe they're inhibited but inhibition doesn't necessarily mean inability.
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The channels should be a good way to show how the group dynamic works.
They actually did the half page 'essay' (their name for it, not mine) really well and loved it! All the character prep and rules stuff is going fine, but it seems to be the inhibition that trips them, and it actually borders on inability, I fear. They watch the videos and want to do things "right", constantly worrying (often out loud) what is the "right thing to do", like one might in a video game (I think? I don't play the popular ones). They grew up copying dances and quotes from online media, and I guess they try to copy things here, too, instead of freewheeling it. One of them writes creepy pastas and talked in private about how she mostly just "copies a formula" and puts her own spins on the stories. But she can't get that to work with this, of course. I think it's really an age/culture thing. I grew up imagining stuff from scratch, they grew up copying others and making adjustments to make something their own....

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Chris Normandís GURPS tutorial videos.....How to Be a GURPS GM.....1-Shot Adventures
Watch him regularly, gonna order that asap, aaaand whydidInotknowthiswasathinguntilnowthankyou!!!
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Old 02-03-2023, 08:19 AM   #12
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

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They got the rule stuff down nicely (simplified GURPS rules, though), but helping them create worlds or design adventures is hard. ... I think they UNDERSTAND that a lot of roleplaying is about choices and creativity, but they can't seem to wrap their heads around the idea that they have to make room for any of that. Not sure how to better explain it...
Sly Flourish's The Lazy Dungeon Master is a good step-by-step guide to not over-thinking session prep. It refers to a lot of video-game tropes and images, so should be accessible to your audience. It's also mercifully short.

You might also consider starting with improv[-isational theater] games as a warm-up. I started with Truth in Comedy, but I believe there are rpg-focused versions on the topic available now. The idea here is to get your audience out of their own heads and used to interacting before they sit down at the table to play.
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Old 02-03-2023, 09:16 AM   #13
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

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They actually did the half page 'essay' (their name for it, not mine) really well and loved it! All the character prep and rules stuff is going fine, but it seems to be the inhibition that trips them, and it actually borders on inability, I fear. They watch the videos and want to do things "right", constantly worrying (often out loud) what is the "right thing to do", like one might in a video game (I think? I don't play the popular ones). They grew up copying dances and quotes from online media, and I guess they try to copy things here, too, instead of freewheeling it. One of them writes creepy pastas and talked in private about how she mostly just "copies a formula" and puts her own spins on the stories. But she can't get that to work with this, of course. I think it's really an age/culture thing. I grew up imagining stuff from scratch, they grew up copying others and making adjustments to make something their own....
This ... mirrors my Mother's concerns. Until ... don't think it's quite a decade yet ... she was a teacher of children aged about 5-6 and had noticed a distinct issue with their ability to imagine over the years. Apparently part of the technique when dealing with that sort of age group is to read them a story and at some point pause and ask some of them what they think happens next, to encourage them to think in consequential and narrative terms and what have you and to learn to check and trust/correct their judgement. From her experience there was a growing trend in children who seemed incapable of doing this and/or needed a real push to do so, otherwise replying that that hadn't seen/heard this story before and didn't know, or saying they could just fast-forward and find out... and for reference, these were by no means special needs kids either, coming from a fairly well to do part of rural England (think small town US, nowhere in England is really rural by American standards).
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Old 02-03-2023, 11:17 AM   #14
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

Sounds like they are having to learn skills as teenagers that kids prior to the Personalized Tracking Device(aka smartphone/tablet) era learned between 4~6. Most of today's kids have never been out of contact with 'higher authority' and had to make their own decisions. Couple that with normal teenage insecurities and you have kids afraid to express themselves to others in person. Most of us have been in fast food places where there will be several teenage or collage age people sitting, all staring at and tapping their PTDs, largely ignoring the other people at the table. The art of in-person conversation is mostly missing in their experiences.

I think your task may well be playing catch up in teaching 'your kids' eye to eye social skills.

Have they read their character essays to the other players?
Since they liked writing the essays, maybe after finishing a session, have them write a short essay about what their character did and a short bit about how the character could have done things different. Maybe the buffer of writing instead of face to face talking will get them to open their imaginations a bit.
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Old 02-04-2023, 08:54 AM   #15
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

Anathema as they can be on this forum, I'd look into the rules light/story forward games like Apocalypse Keys, or Scum and Villainy, or even Masks. In many of those, one fails forwards so there's less fear of doing the wrong thing.

You could also look at the various iterations of Star Wars RPGs as something where the action (what to do) is familiar and they can jump in pretty quickly. Kids on Bikes (and its Hogwarts counterpart Kids on Brooms) might be an option for Stranger Things fans.

For young players (elementary school), try Magical Kitties Save the Day. Dead simple and open-ended rules set and who doesn't like kitties!

You could also try game-adjacent warm-ups like Fiasco, For the Queen, and even Once Upon a Time that focus on improv.

Check with your local libraries as well -- some have gaming groups.
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Old 02-05-2023, 01:40 PM   #16
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

I had to think a lot about this one. Maybe it really isn't about the game itself, but how it is presented. I am looking into the suggestions given here, hoping to grab something, anything, that can get me behind that need to copy-paste the work of others and make them more ready to improvise on their own. Ay suggestions are welcome, including stuff from outside of gaming!
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Most of today's kids have never been out of contact with 'higher authority' and had to make their own decisions. Couple that with normal teenage insecurities and you have kids afraid to express themselves to others in person.
I think this is the exact main problem! Now, how to deal with it....
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Old 02-05-2023, 07:51 PM   #17
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

You might want to point them to some actual-play podcasts or youtube channels. I use actual plays to help figure out new games to get a sense of the rules or if my play group might be willing to give it a shot.

I'm fond of Twelve Sided Stories, Black Armada Tales, and Unexplored Places, myself.
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Old 02-06-2023, 01:29 AM   #18
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

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I think this is the exact main problem! Now, how to deal with it....
On one hand, I don't want to say that there are no wrong answers in roleplaying. In most campaigns, there are wrong answers: player versus player is a wrong answer, and so is anything even on the edge of sexual harassment, and I'm sure other examples could be listed.

But on the other hand, the broad meta-rules for roleplaying amount to (a) as Gregor Vorbarra says in the Vorkosigan novels, "Let's see what happens" and (b) you should try to think what your character would do in the presented situation.

Have you considered actually discussing with your players the idea that roleplaying is an environment where they have a broad freedom to imagine what their characters would do, that there are no defined-in-advance "right answers," and that as a GM, you will be really happy if a player comes up with an action that addresses a situation, but in a way you hadn't anticipated? Can you talk with them at the meta-level? Or is that demanding too much reflective self-awareness of them?

One other thing I can think of: If the game has anything like psychological traits---in GURPS, both traits that amount to moral codes and those that amount to psychological disadvantages (with self-control numbers) or quirks, you might suggest that the look at what's on their character sheet as a definition of the role they're going to play. If, for example, their character has Code of Honor (Gentleman) and Chummy, you have someone who really likes to be with people, who probably spends as much time as possible hanging out with their friends, but who insists on doing the right thing---you've practically got Bertie Wooster or another member of the Drones!
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Old 02-07-2023, 12:41 PM   #19
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

A quick note I maybe should have made: I am not the GM, I just help them get it working. I coach the (teenage) GM on the side and such, and I write stuff for them. And I sometimes watch the sessions in (mostly) silence. I want it to be their own game as much as possible, I just help it along.

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Have you considered actually discussing with your players the idea that roleplaying is an environment where they have a broad freedom to imagine what their characters would do, that there are no defined-in-advance "right answers," and that as a GM, you will be really happy if a player comes up with an action that addresses a situation, but in a way you hadn't anticipated? Can you talk with them at the meta-level?
Yes to both. They seem to understand things very well, they just get a bit paralyzed abour executing it all.
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you might suggest that the look at what's on their character sheet as a definition of the role they're going to play. If, for example, their character has Code of Honor (Gentleman) and Chummy, you have someone who really likes to be with people, who probably spends as much time as possible hanging out with their friends, but who insists on doing the right thing---you've practically got Bertie Wooster or another member of the Drones!
I think this might be an angle (lucky it's GURPS...). They are better at knowing to play things told to them by rules than just improvising.
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Old 02-07-2023, 01:13 PM   #20
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Default Re: How to teach roleplaying games to teenagers?

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I think this might be an angle (lucky it's GURPS...). They are better at knowing to play things told to them by rules than just improvising.
I don't normally think of those traits as performing that functionómy players are much older (many of them past 50) and not so inhibited about improvising. But it certainly is true that a set of character traits can define a role or a dramatic part.
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