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Thursday, May 7, 2015

How Walking the Dog Made Me Think About Gaming

Sunday was the first time we let my niece walk the dog on her own. Normally, Rach or I would hold part of the leash along with Shannon. On Sunday, I figured it was time to take of the training wheels.

When I told Shannon what the plan was, she was beaming (she is 4 1/2 after all) but suddenly got a very serious face: "Someone has to show me how to do it right, Uncle."

Do It Right. Is there a right was to play an RPG? Probably not. Is there a right way to introduce someone to roleplaying? Probably.

+Tim Snider did a great job handling Rach in her first group RPG session at last year's NTRPG Con. He explained the basics of the system (TimeMaster) and then said (I'm parphrasing here) "just explain your actions and I'll interpret how it fits into the mechanics of the game." After the initial instructions it was "just do it and learn from there."

With Shannon, doing it right meant wrapping the leash around her wrist multiple times so it wouldn't slip. Danke (our dog) tested her in the first few minutes before settling in to a good pace. Shannon handled the dangers of dogs, kids, kids on bikes, skateboards and such like a pro. She just did it and learned from there.

Although RPGs are in book form, it's damn hard to learn RPGs from a book. I suspect it would be hard to learn how to walk a dog for the first time from a book too.


  1. Nice example and one smart kid.

    I can never learn rules from just reading the book, I need to have figures/playing pieces on the table. As I sometimes explain to friends picking up new rules, you won't try to explain a game of chess without having a chess set in front of you.

  2. Wait, you don't just let the dog run wild so it can crap on my front yard? You must not live near me.

  3. First off if thats an acual photo of your dog, rock on! Fellow doxie owner here. Secondly I like the way you describe the way Tim ran things. Thats the way it should be. Tell me what your character is doing. Forget the mechanics. Work it in.

    1. Danke the long haired mini doxie - she is ours. She does, however, think she's a cat (as my wife an I have one cat and with my parents downstairs with two more, it's what she knows)

  4. That's basically the idea behind the older cousin model, and one of the reasons why it's so important to be open to potential new gamers.