Raising a Game Master

When I started dating my husband (way back many moons ago when we were in high school), I learned early on that he was a gamer.  I didn’t quite understand what that meant.  I knew he played video games.  It wasn’t until probably around college that I figured out role playing games a little bit and what that meant.  I still didn’t get into games, but I got that.  One thing I noticed is that my husband tended to be the ringleader of his band of gaming friends.  Not to say that his friends all followed him blindly or anything of the sort, but that he tended to be the one organizing things.  Once we were married, I learned more and more.  Now I know what to call him; he’s a game master (shortened to GM).  He isn’t constantly the GM in gaming sessions with his friends.  They do take turns, but he’s definitely a natural GM (just as many of his friends are).

I am intimidated to think of being a GM.  In fact, as I will tell you in an upcoming game review, I don’t even always know what to do as a player.  Sometimes I freeze.  I like to attribute this to my introverted personality that makes me more comfortable to stop and think things through before taking action.  But, it also comes from my lack of gaming experience.  To imagine being in charge of everyone at the table as a GM scares the snot out of me.  Maybe I’ll be up for it someday, but I don’t think it will be any time soon.

My kiddo was bound to develop some sort of gaming related characteristics. One of the first onesies we bought was gaming related. And when she was only 3 months old, I posed her for this gaming photo with a role playing book.

However, I think I’m raising a mini GM.  My daughter already is showing some GM characteristics.  I can only imagine how these will evolve through the years.

1. She likes to tell people what to do. My husband was offended when I mentioned this as a characteristic of a good GM, but it’s true.  While GMs don’t tell players how to play a game, they do have to be bossy.  They have to set the scene, tell people what’s going on and sometimes how their characters are affected.  My daughter is down with that already.  We often find ourselves correcting her when she tells playmates (usually a family member) what to do and how to act.  She especially loves to tell people what to say.  That doesn’t go over well with us, though, it does amuse us behind her back.  “Mommy, can I have a cookie?  Say, yes.”

2. She’s creative. One characteristic of a good GM is that he or she is creative.  I’ve learned through my few years of playing role playing games with our friends and even with others at Gen Con that there are always players who want to throw a wrench into what the GM has planned for the mission.  They like adding twists and turns.  These creative players require creative GMs to manage them, think on their feet and keep the game not only going but interesting as well.  My child has these characteristics in many ways.  She’s very creative.  She sets all sorts of imaginary scenes.  We pretend a lot around here.  And, in truth, role playing is very much about pretending.  She creates her own world, which is perfect for gaming.

3. She wants to take care of everyone. Maybe this isn’t a characteristic of every GM.  And maybe this comes when GMs get married, but I know we have nary a gaming session where we don’t have some sort of snacks and beverages or at least plans of ordering pizza.  My daughter would be perfect in this regard.  She’s constantly making us pretend food and drink.  She’s also happy to share her real food and drink.  She even offered me part of her animal cookie the other day.  That’s pretty hospitable for an almost 3-year-old.

4. She likes to organize things. I have often said that my husband is a master organizer.  His organization skills are at a d12 (sorry, had to throw in a Savage Worlds reference for any gamers out there!).  He’s good at it.  Good GMs are.  For example, at Gen Con this year we participated in two different sessions of the same system and they were vastly different.  One GM was super organized.  The other wasn’t so much.  The more organized GM ran a more enjoyable session.  My kiddo loves to organize things.  She likes putting like items together; she likes setting things up in straight lines.  And if you mess with her systems, you feel her wrath.  She’d be a good GM.

5. She likes games. Above all, a good GM has to like games, I think.  I can’t imagine putting in the time and work that GMs do and not enjoying the game.  My kiddo likes games.  Her games thus far have been limited to things like Princess Dominos, busy bags and puzzles, but she likes them.  Sometimes she sort of likes to make her own rules and do her own thing.  GMs sometimes do this, too.  Yes, rules are set in role playing, but gray areas always pop up and require some rethinking and devising of rules.  I think my kiddo would be good at that, too.

I would say that with two gaming parents my child has a good chance at being a gamer.  Heck, I think the second one does, too.  The first solid baby flutter I felt from him or her was at Gen Con Indy this year, which I think is more than coincidence.  At the same time, kids often don’t like the things their parents like, so who knows?  I do know that if she wants to take her naturally developing GM gifts and put them to use that she’ll have a great GMing role model in her father from whom to learn.  And if the two of them ever gang up on me in a game, heaven help me!

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