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The Tiger Roars 

The Kids Are Alright
If you recognize that this article takes its title from an album by The Who, then you're probably in the age range I'd like to talk to right now. If you're too young to have heard of The Who, you can read this article anyway, but it's really meant for the adults--particularly those in their late 20's and up. I'd like to discuss kids who play 40K, specifically those kids not old enough to drive: kids in their early teens. 

A while back, I got this e-mail. Iíve edited it so as not to identify people or places.

Hi.

I went to a store and saw a kid, new to the hobby, play a game with a newly created Blood Angels army heavy on Fast Attack. He was playing against [an adult employee of the store] with an ďArmy of DeathĒ [an all-Death Company army from White Dwarf #229]. I watched the poor kid get crushed by a man so intent on winning that he taunted his opponent [the kid]. The Death Company Army was a Chapter Approved article and not even sanctioned, it was to be playtested, and I for one think itís unbalanced and unfair. 

Basically, I was disappointed that a guy working at a place would resort to such a low tactic. The kid was totally turned off to the game: is that really such a victory? These [store employees] are supposed to be introducing people to the hobby, not there for the all-out victory. It really pisses me off.

This guy used an army like that to take on someone who:

a) didnít know he was going to be fighting something that hadnít been playtested and didnít even get to agree to fight against; and 

b) came to have a good time, not to get trashed and taunted. 

Jay

I know that, for a number of reasons, some gamers about my age (in their 30's) don't like "kids" (early teens) participating in 40K. They don't want them hanging around the store, they don't want to talk to them, they don't want to watch them play, and they especially don't want to get into a game against them. Some adults (as depicted in the e-mail I just quoted) so dislike kids that they even go out of their way to discourage them from playing. 

I'm a parent myself (though my kids aren't old enough to play yet) so I know firsthand that kids have their faults and can get on your nerves. Of course, we can say the same about everyone, right? 

You don't have to like kids, but remember this: kids are the future of 40K. Theyíre the ones who are going to (hopefully) continue this hobby through the years. Eventually, older gamers fall by the wayside, having given up their toy soldiers for other pursuits, such as raising a family, concentrating on a career, writing the Great American Novel, or evenóheaven forbidótaking up golf (surely a fate worse than slow torture at the hands of the Dark Eldar). 

From what Iíve seen, there are a lot of kids into 40K. If you donít like associating with them, then donít. Ignore them at tournaments, politely decline to play against them, even mutter under your breath about how the ďfilthy little gnomesĒ are ďruining the hobbyĒ if you wantóbut donít discourage them or humiliate them. Cut them some slack. Everyone was young once. Everyone was new at 40K once. Weíre the grownups hereólet's act like it. 

As always, I learned this lesson the hard way. Several years ago, I was playing against a kid whose smartass attitude honked me off.  Finally, I had enough and I cussed him out in front of everyone at the store. And though I had a right to be mad at him, I almost got myself thrown outóand should have been, too. Jimmy, the employee running the store, was gracious enough to give me another chance, though I certainly didnít deserve it. When I calmed down, I realized that the kid had just been acting his age, but I hadnítóand for that, I was the jerk, not the kid.

Since then, Iíve tried to help kids out (Iíve also kept my temper during games, too). I know a kid named Jens who is beginning to play Space Marines (his dad, a friend of mine, is also learning 40K and slowly building a Catachan army). Iíve given Jens figures I donít use anymore to add to his army, as well as back issues of White Dwarf so he can learn more about the hobby. Iíve invited him and his dad to events (thatís Jens, me, and Andy Chambers at Games Day 2000 in the photo below), let them use my home computer to check out 40K sites, and run demo games for Jens, giving him such a huge advantage on points that he canít help but beat me (nothing like some victories early on to build a new gamerís confidence).

Jens, me, and Andy Chambers
Above (left to right): Jens, me, and Andy Chambers 

In addition, my older daughter, Elizabeth, is taking an interest in 40K. She's too young to actually play, but she likes to watch me paint or play against my friend Pat. She thinks the idea of running a 40K website is very cool and she was very impressed when I brought home a shiny sword from a tournament.

She even has her own collection of figures: some plastic Gretchin (painted in a variety of colors) and a 2nd Edition Nazdreg figure, with which she plays typical little-kid pretend games (she's probably the only 7 year old girl who knows who Nazdreg is). 

She also has some old Marine figures, "retired" miniatures that I don't use anymore. She re-paints them and calls them her "Bethy Marines." Often, I take her along to the local Games Workshop store when I need to pick up something and sometimes she'll ask me to buy her a figure, usually a Marine or a Sister of Battle. We take it home and I help her paint it the way she wants to, stifling the 40K purist within me as she lathers literally 14 different colors onto a single miniature. 

I'm not saying you should force 40K on your kids--if Beth never develops into a 40K player, that's okay by me. Nor am I saying you should run out and volunteer to be a ďbig brotherĒ to a kid down at the local gaming store. It might not be worth the effort: a lot of kids who are not really serious about 40K soon get bored with it and drop it. Not to mention that, in this day and age, you have to be very conscious of how you conduct yourself around kidsócertainly I, as a parent, would be very nervous to hear about an adult stranger at a gaming store who seems abnormally friendly towards my child. 

But if you have the inclination, the patience, and the opportunity to help out a kid who plays 40K, you will help perpetuate the hobby. If not, then please donít discourage them. Like it or not, kids are the future of 40Kóand you do want 40K to be around in the future, donít you?
 

Related Pages
Teaching Kids 40K
 

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© copyright January 2001 by Kenton Kilgore. Revised March 2001.

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Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle