19 July 2015

Gaming With Kids

As is often the case, a forum discussion provoked this post.  This one involved people being creeped out by a GM of the original poster’s acquaintance including a couple 12-year-olds, neither being family members of his, in his campaign.

It’s not that society's "OMG but the CHILDREN!!!!!!" riff is getting surreal, it's that it hit surreal quite some time ago. Swear to God, I met a woman who bragged – bragged! – out loud to me that she had never yet failed in avoiding leaving her husband alone with their five-year-old daughter. Heaven knows how she failed to pick up on the shock and revulsion on my face that she would just assume her husband was a pedo-in-the-making, or if she had genuine evidence to believe he was, that she was still living with her children under a roof with him.

To me, the true creepiness and perversion is in the automatic presumption that the only reason a grown man could possibly have anything to do with a minor is for sexual purposes. If that's what any of you believe, I ask you to examine in yourselves why you're so obsessed with underage sexuality that this is the first thing you'd conclude, and to seek psychological help for your unhealthy obsession at once.  (This is my polite way of calling you an obsessed moonbat.)

Now alright – I know teenagers can be annoying, quite aside from the simple fear that having a teenager at your table would provoke the aforementioned obsessed moonbats into siccing the cops on you.

For my part, I’ve had teenagers at my table, and yes, well after college days, thanks. I'd take a player of any age who demonstrated to me a certain level of maturity, the ability to handle mature themes and a willingness to meet my regular schedule of pretty much all-day-Saturday on 2nd and 4th weeks. For the record, the most recent two players I bounced for immaturity were both in their 40s, and the oldest players in their groups at the time.

I have an anecdote. My college chorus allows alumni to sing in it, and I did, until moving back to western Massachusetts.  Six years ago, with an interim conductor, the situation was scrambled enough that I wound up as interim tenor section leader for the semester.  (I expect that they found the presence of a veteran greybeard who’d been with NUCS on and off since the 1970s comforting.) The vice-president invited all the other officers and section leaders to her place one night for a planning session and get-to-know-one-another evening, which wound up being silver-haired me – I was 49 at the time – and four young ladies. During the course of our chatting, the topic veered off onto dating, and one of the ladies mentioned her dismay at having a 30-something guy asking her out.

This was the point where I remarked, quietly, that my wife was 18 years younger than I am.

In the brief moment where all four gazed at me like shocked owls, one cleared her throat and asked, "What do you TALK about?" To which I answered that, well, you're all nearly thirty years younger than I am. What do we have in common, and what are we talking about?

Now leaving aside my cacklefest a couple years later when the original speaker, by then an alum herself and still with the chorus, admitted to me that she was dating a 35 year old guy – whom, happily, she married this past spring – I stand by my own statement. There is something deeply disturbing to me in the automatic presumptions that there is no way a grown man can be friends with a teenager without rubbing the front of his pants, that all grown men are might-be-perverted animals who can't be trusted, and that adults and children couldn't possibly have anything in common, any common ground or any reason to talk to one another civilly and socially.

And that includes sharing in this wonderful hobby.  Because, think about it: two of the original D&D players were children.  How old was Ernie Gygax at those first games ... 13? 14?  And Elise Gygax was his younger sister.  No one suggested, then or subsequently, that Gary Gygax was a sicko for that.

Honestly, some people need a reality check.

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