Truly Wonderful, Part 2 – Kids Creating Characters in Tails of Equestria
Part Two – Demo Games and Character Creation
Following up on part one, Tails of Equestria writer Zak Barouh takes a look at the interesting ways kids create their own characters, learning lessons from running many demo games at events:
Writer and Manager for Tails of Equestria
When kids created pony characters, the talents were as varied as the colour schemes, with some children choosing things they like doing in real life such as baking, painting, reading, while others decided on more outlandish skills: speaking to dragons, controlling the weather, tunnelling, or breaking down doors. The quirks on the other hand, represent flaws or personal difficulties that the characters experience. In most cases, these ended up being more grounded than the talents. By far the most common quirk that children wrote, was “shy.” In Tails of Equestria, when a character overcomes their quirk in some way, they are rewarded with ‘Friendship Tokens’ that can be used to help other members of the group or themselves later on. I found it very interesting that as part of a group (sometimes composed of people they had never met before) children assigned their own personality quirks like ‘shy’, ‘too quiet’, or even ‘too bossy’ to their characters, and throughout the demo session both the characters and the players overcame these problems by interacting with the rest of the group. In a game that promotes friendship and cooperation, the demo session groups naturally started to help each other, both in and out of character. Some would prompt a shy player to contribute, giving them suggestions and allowing them an easy way to add their own thoughts.
A couple of louder children would soon find the fun in cooperation, allowing others to join in and passing ideas around the table. When a challenge was presented in the game, such as “a locked door stands before you”, the players would discuss with everyone what the best course of action was, taking on board ideas from each character, then enact the plan in a coordinated way. Though of course some groups had more natural cohesion than others, I found that by the end of a session, every single group was working together, even the largest group of around 12 people. The rules and guidelines of the RPG provide a great environment for children to be creative and work together towards a common goal.
Young children are more used to activating their imagination; playing out scenes with invisible characters and creating a stories out of nothing are things that many children grow up doing. When brought to the gaming table the added rules and structure of a role-playing game adds a new element to these ‘make-believe’ games. It’s easy to think that young children will be easily bored and confused when ‘rules’ are mentioned, but if introduced steadily, I found they would enhance the game, starting from around age 5 and up. Older kids are capable of taking in more information in one go, and will start to see the game as a whole.