Ah, behold the joys of Twitter. It makes our job even easier at Ask GeekDad when we get quick questions via our Twitter account (that’s @AskGeekDad of course!). Today’s queries run the gamut from questions about music and kids’ interests to starting a D&D group–but rather than go on about it, in the spirit of brevity (we’re talking Twitter, after all), here we go.
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What can I get to encourage other interests in an 11 year old boy who likes nothing but Pokemon and Bakugan? (via @churtwilliams)
GeekDad Corrina Lawson: I’ve gone through this stage with three of my kids, though with the oldest son, it was Yu-Gi-Oh rather than Pokemon. I’ve found it’s one of those things that you have to work with, rather than around.
The trick is to find what’s the most interesting part of these interests to them. For my younger son, it was all about the dueling and the match-ups. For my youngest daughter, it was about learning all the different characters. Some kids love both.
What I did was try to use their interest as a springboard into other activities. If they like Pokemon, I looked around for books for them to read and for similar manga. That way, they were at least reading, too. And there are a lot of interactive toys out there. If you have time, they can teach you how to “duel” and it’s a fairly complicated thing. I was amazed at the complexity of Yu-Gi-Oh dueling. It’s fascinating and requires a lot more brain power and higher math than you might think on first sight.
With my younger son, we were able to translate this love of dueling and strategy over to chess. And there are other board games, too, like Risk and Stratego that might be attractive to your son.
You can also use this as a springboard into some regular SF/F interests too. Just keep trying until you find one that catches his interest. Depending on his reading level, you might be able to get him interested in the Percy Jackson series. Greek gods and their powers are like Pokemon, in a lot of ways.
I will soon be a father. Which lullabies would you recommend for a baby geek? Maybe something based on the Star Wars theme? (via @pocmatos)
GeekDad Doug Cornelius: I have managed to get my 2-year old to scream for joy and dance when she hears the Star Wars theme music. (Hold on, let me wipe away a tear of joy.)
The single most important thing is to pick something that you will not hate. Kids love repetition and respond to repetition. That means you could be listening to the “lullaby” over and over and over and over again.
Since you’re going to be listening to the music, I suggest you play music that you like. Just try playing music from your existing collection and see what your new baby geek seems to like. There will be lots of trial and error. If your music consists solely of speed metal, you will need to broaden your tastes to find something that you and the little one both like. Otherwise, try out what you have before you go out and buy more music.
I accidentally became a bluegrass fan, so we play lots of Alison Krauss and Union Station. (She sings like an angel.)
At my geeklet’s school they have a local singer/songwriter come in and perform for the kids on a regular basis. Staying with that concept of repetition, kids love hearing the same music at home that they hear at school. You can listen to samples of some of Wayne Potash’s music. (Shy Shark on the Music Fun and Stunt Car on the Don’t Forget the Donuts are the household favorites.)
You can find other really good, kid-focused music from Dan Zanes, Peter Himmelman, and They Might Be Giants. You can also browse through some of our past reviews of children’s music to see if anything sound good to you. If you’re looking to develop your baby geek’s love of geeky music and nerdcore, try some of the music featured by Z during the Hip Trax podcast.
How does a 15 year old from India, living in a completely NON-geek environment go about starting to play D&D? (via @IAmPallavi)
GeekDad Jonathan Liu: While I’m not a D&D player, I am a board game fanatic, and when I first moved to this small rural town I wasn’t sure how to go about finding fellow game players. I did ask around, and mentioned it when I met people. But most of the time when I’d say “board games” they were thinking Monopoly. Early on, I think I met maybe one person who’d even heard of Settlers of Catan.
So I decided to just start hosting game nights, and spread the word. I showed up at the library one summer day with a pile of board games. I talked to the high school teacher who ran the chess club. I invited people over to see my games collection, and usually had a few choice selections sitting out before they arrived.
What I found was this: the high schoolers and college kids were much more inclined to try something new. Even in a “complete non-geek environment” you might be able to find at least a few kindred spirits. Don’t underestimate the power of a personal invitation. It also helps if you’re not afraid of people thinking that you’re a geek–in the long run it might pay off, when you become known as the go-to person for the types of games you play.
GeekDad Michael Harrison: First of all, if you want to try and host an event, you can’t do much better than follow Jonathan’s advice. I can’t stress enough his tip on not caring about what people think of you. It’s really the foundation of any geeky pursuit: you love it so much, you don’t really give a rip what people say.
Beyond that, there are a number of technological resources available to help you find players for a game you’d like to host, or to find a game that you’d like to join.
First, there’s the official Dungeons & Dragons Community. There are (as of this moment) 1880 groups right now. It is, unfortunately, very focused on the US and Canada, but take a look around, join up, and post in the forums. You never know who you’ll find.
An even better (and somewhat unlikely) option is the Obsidian Portal Campaigns Map. Tucked away under the “Map” navigation is a map that displays the real-world locations of campaigns that are hosted on Obsidian Portal. I took a quick look and saw a few that are running in India. If there’s not one running near your area, you can create a free account on Obsidian Portal and indicate that you’re “Looking For Players” for your campaign.
There’s always Meetup, too. Search for “rpg” or “d&d”, but don’t shy away from “board games” or “computer games”, because there’s often a lot of cross-over interest.
And, finally, I’d be remiss if I left out the oldest way of finding a D&D game to join: hitting the streets. Head to a place where geeks congregate: hobby stores, universities, libraries, or internet cafes. Check bulletin boards. Put up flyers. Read your RPG books in public. Unless you’re concerned about physical retaliation (games like D&D have a tarnished reputation due to ridiculous claims of ties to witchcraft and Satanism), don’t worry about getting a few looks. It might start up some conversations, and then you have an in!
Best of luck to you! You’ll be rollin’ twenties in no time.