Thursday, July 12, 2012

Family Games Night (D&D Lite Part Deux)

A couple of months ago I wrote about my memories of D&D as a child with my father.  I don't recall responding badly to my disastrous first D&D experience (read: pouting and whining), and yet for one reason or another, my dad didn't offer to DM (Dungeon Master) a game for almost 10 years.  In the meantime our family played Colecovision, (followed by Nintendo), cards, and board games together.  Until one day we were introduced to HeroQuest

HeroQuest took our family gaming to a whole  new level.  At first we just ran the events as laid out in the quest book that came with the game.  Quickly however, we out grew these scenarios, and the game just didn't seem like much of a challenge.  Just when it looked like this game would be banished to the 'basement of forgotten games' my father decided it was about time he took over and become a DM once more.  He planned new adventures and once a week we would play them.  Sometimes my mom would act as DM, and my dad would join the campaign.  I think I may have tried my hand at it -being DM- one time, but I am sure I must be wrong, cause I just can't see me wanting to do that, because controlling a game seems like too much responsibility for me... but I digress.  What really matters is we used the bones of the game to create a whole new experience.

Most games were played by just our family but occasionally my friend Louise would play.   I was around 17 and my siblings were about 13 (Alan) and 12 (Kat) when we started playing this game.  Being a 13 year old, my brother was beginning to explore his boundaries as only an early teen can: annoying the heck out of me and my sister more than usual, and sabotaging family fun when he could.  HeroQuest was perfect for this, as he would just run into rooms and aggro everything and causing our party to wipe.  (Yes, Virginia, people did that before Leeroy Jenkins.)  This was an unwelcome twist to the game.  Until one day someone asked the DM: "Can we kill the dwarf?"  My father thought for a moment and answered: "Yes, but you will have to roll for it."

This became our standard response to Alan's 'Jenkin-ish' behaviour from then on out, and it add an additional chllenge to the game.  We became aware that not only were there skeletons and monsters out there to get you, but the members of your party could turn on you too.  To be honest we mostly just attacked the dwarf when he stepped out of line, but there was always the possibility that the tables could turn.

I think one of the best things I learned from playing HeroQuest with my family is that it is okay to play a game, then break it, and re-create it. All that, and in the process have even more fun than when you first opened the box.

(P.S. The teacher in me might reflect on this experience and think there was value in playing like this because we had to collaborate in many ways: identify the problem(s) in the game, create a solution, test it, refine, retest, while communicating effectively, and positively in order to established shared norms and goals.  Or something like that.  But really it was just fun.)