Age "requirements" question
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Posted by weaverjk

I noticed the event catalog specifics an age requirement.  
How strict is this "requirement?"  Is enforcement up to the individual event hosts?

Example:  True Dungeon may say age 13+, but I know that TD has allowed age 8 and up to go through.

I see that most of the RPGs say 13+ but my son is 12.  Should we cancel our Gen Con trip and reschedule for next year, or will my 12-year old be able to participate in the many events that state 13+?  

I also don't feel comfortable leaving our children six blocks away at a hotel while we attend 18+ events, so it appears that my wife and I may need to skip the more adult-themed events.  Bummer!  

Thank you,

John
 

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Posted by mikeboozer weaverjk

weaverjk wrote:
I noticed the event catalog specifics an age requirement.  
How strict is this "requirement?"  Is enforcement up to the individual event hosts?
Example:  True Dungeon may say age 13+, but I know that TD has allowed age 8 and up to go through.
I see that most of the RPGs say 13+ but my son is 12.  Should we cancel our Gen Con trip and reschedule for next year, or will my 12-year old be able to participate in the many events that state 13+?  
I also don't feel comfortable leaving our children six blocks away at a hotel while we attend 18+ events, so it appears that my wife and I may need to skip the more adult-themed events.  Bummer!  
Thank you,
John

Hello,
In most cases you can contact the event organizer to see if it's okay for them to attend the event (If they have contact information). In the case of a 13+ event I would be surprised if many would object considering the difference is just one year. Since the options we have to select from are these below, it leaves a lot of room between 6 and 13. Any GM's want to chime in?
(Everyone) 6+
(Teen) 13+
(Mature) 18+
21+

For an 18+ event what you do with the kids is largely based on how comfortable you feel. A child can accompany a parent to almost all events but not participate without a ticket. Single hall events that require tickets for entry would not be an option, but an event taking place in the Event Hall would be fine. 

Mike Boozer
Customer Service & Event Team Manager
Gen Con LLC

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Posted by rong

As a GM for some "13+" events (HackMaster), I selected that age "requirement" based on the complexity of the game. I recognize that some kids are raised in rpg households and can handle the game at a much younger age. I won't age check anyone at my tables. I also provide contact information for questions just like this. In short, if you (or your wife) will be playing with your son, you probably have nothing to worry about as far as being told he's too young. You know your kids better than any event runner. If you think he can handle your chosen event, I don't think any GMs will challenge you on it.

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Posted by weaverjk

Thanks, Mike and rong (darned auto-correct keeps changing that to "long").

I figured as much, but would be disappointed to find that our son is turned away at a gaming table.  That said, I understand the need to set rules or guidelines to be adhered to.

I've been running D&D campaigns with my family for the past 5 years or so, so our son has played somewhat (he doesn't participate at the table as much as his sister) since he was 7-years old.

 

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Posted by glory

Please keep in mind, too, that people might choose an 18+ event over a 13+ event because they don't want kids at their table.

I know, specifically, for RPGs I will often look for 18+ or 21+ events because I don't want to play D&D with at 13 year old. 

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Posted by weaverjk

Understood, glory.  We will likely not take our 12- and 13-year olds to a 18+ and certainly not a 21+ event.  

From a parental point of view, it's a consideration of whether or not swear words will be used, whether topics, verbiage, and jokes will include content beyond what we believe to be appropriate for our children.

Aside from the 13+ role-playing sessions, I was considering whether or not it would be appropriate for our family to attend some of the 18+ comedy and musical events.  In other words, if the content isn't too excessive for our children, then our family sitting by ourselves will not likely interfere with anyone else's enjoyment.
 

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Posted by ascantla

I've had children under the age requirement that were great to play with and I've had 1 time where i had to pull the parent aside and let them know that their child was causing an issue at the table. 

Most of the time we're dealing with children of gamers, children who know how to respect a game and an event and i would have no issue dealing with any of them. 

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Posted by weaverjk ascantla

ascantla wrote:
I've had children under the age requirement that were great to play with and I've had 1 time where i had to pull the parent aside and let them know that their child was causing an issue at the table. 
Most of the time we're dealing with children of gamers, children who know how to respect a game and an event and i would have no issue dealing with any of them. 

And then there are the adults that act like children...  During a home game, I once had a parent throw an absolute, over-the-top childish fit when that person's character was killed in combat.  I think it made us all want to leave the room.
 

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Posted by father bloodlust

Personally, I set my game to 18+ for a couple of reasons:

1. I don't want to deal with kids at the table
2. The game I'm running will probably veer into adult subject matter and will definitely have adult language (it's based off a TV-MA rated show)

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Posted by sindee

I also attend 18+ event because I don't what to be around children. I raised mine and I get it. It sucks not being able to attend events because you have children, and I also get that your children are probably great well behaved children. But I did not break to the rules and bring mine to adult events and do not feel like I need to be made uncomfortable by someone else's. As a parent you always just give up stuff for your kids. It's the way it is. 
More importantly, why are you teaching your children that the rules do not apply to them?

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Posted by weaverjk

Wow, sindee.  The last sentence sounds like trolling.  We are some of the few people left in America that abide by "the rules" more than almost any other family unit I can think of.  We stop at stop signs and red lights while most every else does not come to a complete stop before proceeding.  We didn't walk away from our house in Detroit - I took out a $25k loan just to sell it instead of walking away like most other people did.  Thanks for judging me.

What I would appreciate is for Gen Con and event organizers to take the gaming community into account, just a little more.  When it comes to role playing D&D's Keep on the Borderlands, is there really such a huge difference between most 12- and 13-year olds? 

We did not purchase any tickets for 18+ or 21+ events, period.
I feel that we know more than most that parents sacrifice for their children.  It amazes us at how many other "adults" put themselves before their children.

I didn't come here to be judged or have someone accuse me of wrong doing.  I came to ask a simple question - if the age requirements were a hard and fast rule or more of a guideline.  From what I received back from GMs and Gen Con administrative personnel alike, Gen Con's age "requirements" are more guidelines than requirements.  That's good enough for me - otherwise, I'll save my $5000 and spend it somewhere else.

 

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Posted by steffles weaverjk

weaverjk wrote:I see that most of the RPGs say 13+ but my son is 12.  Should we cancel our Gen Con trip and reschedule for next year, or will my 12-year old be able to participate in the many events that state 13+?  

We are rule followers like you, but my daughter who is very mature and tall for her age has been going to 13+ for a few years (she is now 13), it has never been a problem as we are a gaming family and she is a good gamer in all respects.  I wouldn't cancel my trip.  It will be tons of fun and you may make a family tradition out of it. 

All that said, our family has had some mixed results at RPG's.  My son is 17 now (incredibly expressive and been playing RPG's since a small child), but even as early as last year, some of the adults at the table felt the need to try to "take the turn" for him.  My husband has literally had to tell other players to be quiet and let the kid take his turn.  You know the type of player I'm talking about (they think the game is all about them).  It happens with adults but when a kid is at the table, sometimes people cannot help but try to talk over them and dominate the game.  That would be my only caution.  No one has ever been nasty -just overbearing:).

 

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Posted by roderick

Okay, guys, keep a lid on it. Remember that you can't see expressions or hear voices on the internet. 

Roderick Robertson
Forum Coordinator 
Gen Con, LLC. 

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Posted by terryh708

As a GM i set a minimum age bases on how adult the content of my session will be.  last year i set 18 due to some torture scenes in the session, this year it is 13...i always will require a parent or guardian to stay with the young players.  have had experience where the parent dropped off the young player (14) then disappeared for the next 6 hours with no contact information left with me as DM.  Best advice given, contact the DM and ask.

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Posted by funny-shaped dice

@weaverjk:  I really appreciate you taking the time to get feedback on this topic. Its a grey area. My opinion is more on the side of adhering to the age limits - as a result of bad experiences with underage participants in the past - but the chances that anyone is going to be able to tell that your 12 year-old is not 13 is very slim. If they can "pass" - and especially if, in addition to games with family and close family friends, they have experience playing RPGs with other adults and older teens - no one is likely to have issues at the table.  

.......

In my opinion, when it comes to RPGs, the age limits are less, I think, about chronological age and more about maturity. With boardgames, age recommendations often attempt to communicate complexity whereas with RPGs, I think age limits on convention events are more like MPAA ratings that attempt to communicate maturity and theme. YMMV.

I'm in the camp that would prefer *not* to play with obviously younger children.  A 12 year-old in a 13+ game? I doubt I could tell the difference - especially if they carry themselves with more maturity.  Unfortuntately, I've been in games where parents have brought *much* younger children to the table with a "They've been playing for years. They know the system." and those games did not go well.

While younger kids may have known the system mechanics (possibly), what they didn't know was how to play well as part of a group or to play well with others significantly older than themselves.  When the styles of play at the table are not aligned and the players themselves do not have the maturity to recognize and align them as needed, the table experience goes sideways very quickly.  Mature players are able to make those adjustments; immature players not so much.  (As others note above, age and maturity are not always aligned - I, too, have seen chronologically older players who behaved like young children; I've played games with astute children as well...but, outliers aside, we should all be able to agree that there is a correlation between age and maturity).

For parents who are considering bringing underage children to an event, please consider not only your experience and your child's experience, but also consider the experience of the other participants at the table. If you are coming from afar, Gen Con is not a cheap trip - either in terms of time or money - and a paying participant certainly has the right to expect to have fun while there. If your child has no experience playing with previously unknown adults - like at free games at your Friendly Local Game Store, Pathfinder Society, Adventurer's League, etc. - maybe breaking them in at a paid convention like Gen Con isn't the right thing to do?

Its a tough one. I know that I certainly want to encourage the next generation of gamers - but you have to consider the fun of the other players at the table as well.

While 13+ might be a gray area, my opinion is that 18+ and 21+ events are not for kids.  Either because the themes of the game are in the "R" area or because the GM is, as clear as possible, communicating "No Kids". Like others, I *do* look for those events precisely because I know they are likely to have few if any children at the table.

Finally: GMs - its your table.  For 13+ events, I'm not opposed to younger players at the table within reason (see above) - but then its your responsibility to ensure that the spotlight moves appropriately; obvious weirdness, off-premise, off-genre play is tamped down; and that ample opportunity is given to other players to interrupt inappropriate behavior from the less mature players (regardless of age).  Allowing an immature player to cause chaos at the table ("I spit in the King's face and tell him he's ugly", "I run up and grab the loot", "I steal the other player's magic ring", whatever) without redirecting (or rejecting) their behavior is not cool. (Sorry, gang, "Its what my character would do!" may work in your regular gaming group at home, but at a con with a bunch of strangers you need to find ways to work together - especially since most of the time, the characters are pre-made and supposed to know how to work together anyway).  Remember: we only have 4 hours to get a group of players with potentially different play styles, expectations, and preferences to come together as a group, find and bite the adventure hook as a group, go on and complete a mission as a group.
 

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Posted by bithlord

Please note that, barring a few specific (and nottable) examples, the age requirement is for participating.  Not for being in the same room.

 

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Posted by sindee weaverjk

weaverjk wrote:Aside from the 13+ role-playing sessions, I was considering whether or not it would be appropriate for our family to attend some of the 18+ comedy and musical events.  In other words, if the content isn't too excessive for our children, then our family sitting by ourselves will not likely interfere with anyone else's enjoyment.
 
I tried to be specific that I was talking about 18+ events. I was responding to this portion of your message. I should have quoted earlier to be clearer. I would be uncomfortable if I were near a child and a comedian is making sexual comments or other inappropriate comments. After all they made it 18+ for a reason.  I was just trying to make it clear that if I attend an 18+ event I should not have to worry about feeling that way.
My comment about teaching your kids that the rules do not apply were strictly about the taking them to an 18+ event. It shows them that rule does not apply to them. Not about traffic laws or anything else, because I have no idea how you live your life other than this. It is none of my business how you choose to raise your children generally. It does affects me if you do happen to take them to an 18+ event that I also happen to be attending.
Though I was definitely trying to express these thoughts in a matter of fact nature and not angry or trolling. I am sorry if it came across that way. I sincerely meant it when I said that I get that it sucks. I have been a single mother for most of my life. I do understand, it is what we do for our kids. In my experience skipping shows and not attending events because you have an underage child is the easy part of parenting. We like most families had much harder struggles. So I guess I do not personally understand that conflict. There is a lot of family programming. Feel free to verify the numbers, but I believe there is a lot more programming for multiple ages than for 18+. So you should not find yourself in a spot where there is nothing to do if you do not attend an 18+ show. I don't deal with that anymore, but I am guessing it has not changed much.

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Posted by sindee roderick

roderick wrote:
Okay, guys, keep a lid on it. Remember that you can't see expressions or hear voices on the internet. 
Roderick Robertson
Forum Coordinator 
Gen Con, LLC. 
I truly intended my comments to be matter of fact and not angry. So i am sorry if they came across that way.

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Posted by sindee

@funny-shaped dice: Extremely well said.

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Posted by galvatron42

I am bringing my 10 year old son for the first time this year. He has recently started playing DnD with me and wanted to play in some 5e events at Gen Con. Those events are listed as 13+ so I did the same as you and came to the boards to ask about it. I spoke with someone involved in hosting the events and he said it is not a problem if we are playing together and that they have kids playing with parents frequently. I would say speak to the event host about it and if they say it' fine then go for it. If someone at the table has an issue with it, they can take it up with them. 

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