Best way to get my nephew into gaming (from the "ground up")?

As I mentioned in this thread, I’m plotting ways to get my nephew to enjoy the things I do. I will not, of course, be too pushy, and since he’s only 21 months, I’ve got some time, but since I’m getting in on the bottom floor with this kid, I want to have my influence. :smiley:

Looking over my interests, and the ones I want to pass on, I’ve decided that gaming is probably the one I want to focus on; it will act as a sort of “gateway” to almost all the others.

In short, I want my nephew to be the sort of person who’s heard of GenCon, and can look at a typical schedule and say, “Damn, there’s too many things I want to do for one weekend!” (For those of you who don’t know, there’s a VAST array of games and gaming at GenCon besides tabletop RPGs.)

Any suggestions or thoughts on how to do this? I want to start laying out my game plan now so I can be prepared when he finally talks in complete sentences!

Get him a Wii?

When he starts learning to read you could introduce him to some of the more kid-friendly text adventures (pass it off to his parents as a “learning experience”). Before that you could play some more simple games that aren’t text-intensive, some Wii games have this but I would actually think going back to old school gaming would work too, introduce him to the early Sonics or Marios little to no text, easy to get into (if somewhat infuriating to 100% at times) and really fun.

Plush 20-sider
Plush Cthulhu
These should get you started.

(Obviously check appropriate ages for toys)


Too early. As he starts growing up, if you have any sway with him, he’ll see what you’re doing and will be naturally curious about it.

Plus, I don’t live in the same state as him, so my gaming opportunities while I’m home are limited.

Xbox Live, sir.

If he was older, the Lego Star Wars/Batman/Indiana Jones/Whatever would be great. They have two-player co-op play, and the second player can drop in and out. If something’s too hard for him, he can drop out, you can do it, and he can drop back in, but mostly he can play along at a pretty simple level. If he dies, he just shatters into Lego bits, and comes back in a few seconds.

At his age, he’s probably even too young to be the second for Super Mario Galaxy, but that would be a good start. In that, all the second player has to do is collect star bits (point the wiimote at them, and they come zooming to you).

We had JumpStart Toddler (for the PC), and in the simplest games, they just have to move the mouse around, and bubbles pop to reveal a picture.

How 'bout instead encouraging him to let his brain turn to mush staring at a video game screen, take him outside and teach him how to catch.

Because it’s a separate action that’s completely irrelevant to the topic I asked about?

Still, I must admit the suggestions so far have been a little video game heavy. If there were some suggestions that involved tabletop RPGs, board games, card games, etc., those would be welcome too. I mean, it’s not like I’m going to be the only influence in his life, or that this is the only thing I’ll be introducing him to, but hey, I should be able to get him to like at least ONE thing I do. :smiley:

Getting your nephew’s parents to play games with you might be a good start, no?

Start fostering a love of playing period- Board Games are wonderful for this as well. Board Games and puzzles, and then introduce him to the video games. As a kid, my uncles had an Atari and I remember trying to play the games, and whenever I’d get stuck on a “hard” level, I’d give it to my Uncles to beat, and that way we’d feel a sense of accomplishment of “we beat a game together”- sure there’s co-op games and all, but it’s nice to sometimes just play 1 player, and switch the controller back and forth between levels… It helps him out too so he doesn’t get too frustrated with a single level, and he can still feel like he’s done something.

After that, a healthy encouragement of reading is a must if you want to go into fantasy gaming and D&D and those sorts of things- a good sense of imagination and fantasy is def. a great way to start the lil’ guy to think about playing those sorts of games in the long run, but I’d say take it easy and slow, and mostly his natural curiosity should allow him to explore it at his own pace, especially if you’re the “cool” family member that he can relate to or play with- that’s the way to pretty much instant emulation.

You don’t play many video games do you?

Thus my suggestions :).

I have triplet cousins who I tend to see only on Thanksgiving. For years we had a tradition that after Thanksgiving feast, while the rest of the adults were downstairs watching interminably dull slideshows about where people went on vacation, I’d be upstairs with the kids running a one-shot D&D adventure. They loved it, wouldn’t shut up about it all through dinner, would want me to resume the game the next morning, would tell me about their dreams about the game.

When I became a teacher I stopped running the games, because frankly it felt too much like work. Also the triplets are adolescents now, and not especially nerdy adolescents, and their excitement has waned. But I kinda miss them.

One summer I worked on a farm, and there was a five-year-old at loose ends who lived there also. I’d entertain him (i.e., keep him from throwing rocks at me) by running an extremely simple free-form single-player D&D game for him out in the fields, a very fairy-talish game. He also was entranced by it.

So my suggestion: with the parents’ approval, around the age of five, introduce him to the concept with a diceless, paperless single-person “game.” This is pretty similar to regular storytelling with a kid, and you can do it without prep. As he ages, if he’s enjoying it, introduce him to more geekery.


21 months? Join him in a game of ‘drooling on plastic blocks’, seriously, what kind of advice are you looking for here?

I was a Boy Scout, so my motto is “be prepared.” :smiley:

How’d you guess. I’m a little more into athletic activity than trying to eat dots and ghosts.

Said the person posting to an online message board.

So are you saying those activities are mutually exclusive? I’ll bet it would just blow your mind to know that there are hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of people that play sports and play video games.

I think you’ve gotten the brain-rotting activity mixed up between video games and baseball, dude.

Couple of suggestions…

First, check out the forums at Fear the Boot. (Their default color setting is awful, but if you register you can change the skin, so don’t let that set you back.) ANYWAY, that forum is by, for, and about people who want to game and get others involved. These guys have a LOT of great suggestions, and most will be very helpful to you with suggestions and ideas.

Second: their first suggestion for getting people interested in gaming is to try “Settlers of Catan”. I haven’t played it yet, although I’ve been told I’m going to get the opportunity soon, so I haven’t the foggiest whether or not it’s good for kids. 21 months is a little young yet, but it’d be a good board game / “gateway game” for the FAMILY to play at, say, Thanksgiving. And hey, if you can get mom & dad interested in RPGs through “Settlers”, then maybe the kid will be interested too, later on, without you having to put forth a HUGE effort, hey?

Third: A great RPG for kids to play is “Toon”, by Steve Jackson Games. Toon is based on all the great cartoons you remember as a kid - it uses cartoon logic, and you can do dang near anything. We own all the books (oooohhh, except Toon Munchkin, now I know what DogDad’s getting for his birthday…) and the best way to play this one with kids is to explain the rules, give 'em an character (or hey, have 'em make their own if they want) and then run 'em through a few scenarios. We play a rather loosey-goosey game: if we’re having fun, the GM lets us go and have our adventure rather than “roll the dice to see if it worked…okay, now roll again to see what happens”. The GM is pretty much there to start the scenario going, provide the start, the end, and the “mission” and then lets us go. Oh, and to act out all the NPCs, of course.

The kids (and adults) we’ve played with love that, and it’s easy enough to design (or adapt) the prefab adventures they have for anywhere from an hour to an all-night adventure. Great for one-shots…and if you want to eventually get on to protracted campaigns, you can do those, too - it’s all up to you.