I'm thinking of running my first event at Gencon this year. It will be horror (Cthulhu-type horror) but I'm not planning on leaning into gore or anything. I just don't particularly enjoy playing with children or even teens. I played a Cthulhu game last year with a teen and they were somewhat disruptive.
So, I'm thinking of marking my event Mature (18+) just to keep the kids out. I'm wondering if that may cause people to skip over it because they are worried about content? Planning on running it on Wednesday which is kind of low-attendance anyway, so I don't necessarily cause people to avoid it.
Not really as you will likely gain as many players who would prefer a mature game as you would lose who would want to play in a more encompassing game. Maybe even more would seek to get tickets for your event due to the mature setting.
I would strongly prefer a game reserved for adults, especially an RPG. I have nothing against gaming with kids (to a point) but if I'm going to Gen Con I want to optimize the experience. I don't think any game marked as "Mature (18+)" would be misinterpreted as being "adult" in nature unless the description made it seem so.
From games I've played in, the Mature rating is treated as more of a guideline by folks. You'll still get parents showing up with kids saying it's OK for them to play.
You won't have a problem finding players for a Mature(18+) game...not at all. Heck, EVERY game run by the Magpie team - of which I'm aware (I ran 4 for them last year) - is marked Mature and they were all filled.
As David Campbell notes above, the Mature rating is a guideline that is not enforced by Gen Con. If you are running with a publisher like Magpie, they will manage that for you i.e. if you are not comfortable running for players under 18, they will step in and defend your right not to run for those players. (HIGHLY recommend Magpie for their GM Support).
However, if you are running independently (as you appear to be suggesting) you will need to be comfortable addressing that issue with the individuals who show up who are under the age limit. Stand your ground. You have a right be comfortable as well. Just because Mom/Dad insists their 12 year old is "mature for their age" and "plays CoC all the time" and "I'm their parent, I give them permission" does not mean you have to accept them into the game. Just prepare yourself mentally for this to happen and hope it does not.
As a gamer who seeks out Mature games at Gen Con for *exactly* the same reason (because I want to play with and make friends with adults who I might want to share a beer with later not because I'm interested in sex, violence or other craziness), I would applaud your stance as a GM if I were in one of your games.
However, if you are running independently (as you appear to be suggesting) you will need to be comfortable addressing that issue with the individuals who show up who are under the age limit.
No matter what you do to prevent it, just be prepared to enforce it.
I’m at the point now, where I honestly think I’d just leave a table if an underage participant was seated at a Mature event. Unfortunately, most games it is myself and my wife - so that means 2 players leave. There are lots of times I’m interested in supporting the next generation in learning to game (just did it at a local con). Gen Con is not that time - especially when I seek out games specifically to NOT have to play with immature players (there are plenty enough over the age of 18 as it is! :) )
Anyway...set the flag and stand by it. Your attendance will not be hurt - especially in a horror game!
Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm going to proceed with it and be prepared to enforce it. Better to be mentally prepared ahead of time than ambushed with it and have to deal with it under pressure.
Hope everyone has a great Gencon!
I have to write though, one of my favorite sessions was a story of how the PCs uncovered a plot where a corrupt noble betrayed sick Imperial Guard veterans and the veteran Captain attempted to kill the noble but was poisoned and died. The PCs were sent to investigate the matter. When the players uncovered the plot, two of the players lobbied strenuously against the noble and wanted to seize the nobles palace as a hospital. I made them plead their case and with some amazing role-playing and a tear in my eye these two 15 year old players convinced the grizzled Inquisitor it was the right thing to do. I never would have suspected they would have bought into the whole caring and consequences thing but I was happily mistaken. The other older players were disappointingly less interested in this part of the scenario. Those two concerned players had never played Warhammer 40k Dark Heresy before and just wanted to try it out and I couldn't have been happier for their involvement.
That stated, I had a session where six boys showed up to my Call of Cthulhu game and wanted to know where the "controllers were", if their guy had an RPG, and what did it mean that it was in the year 1923. Oof, I earned my GM patience ribbon that night!
Wow, I would have stared with my mouth open so hard at "where are the controllers" that everyone would have probably packed up and left before I spoke again.
Or that would have been the clever response I'd have thought of much later, after just staring silently.
Thanks again everyone for your comments.
And by marketing it 18+, you would possibly gain 2 more players. My hubs and I prefer 18+ games. We don't have kids, and are not particularly kid friendly. So we tend to pick events that are less likely to have kids at them.
I have under aged children and have been teaching them *the right way to be a gamer*
I think they would do well in a serious game, that being said they are still under 18 and do have their moments of childish behavior.
On the other side of that coin, I know of many adults that would perform poorly in a more serious themed game.
I myself happen to like doing both serious and not so serious games both.
At one point we considered doing "Nascrag After Dark" - an adult themed adventure. Sexy stuff. But given the demographics of Gen Con at the time it was shot down. No one felt that the roleplaying would work with a bunch of gamer dudes sitting around a table in a convention. Now it just seems ill-advised in general.
To be perfectly clear, I'm not doing it for content reasons, but age filtering reasons.
There are going to be people who will avoid your event because you listed it as mature and there are going to be people who are drawn to your event for the same reasons. There are also going to be people who either don't bother to read the age restriction or don't care.
End of the day its your event, put it out there however you want.