Vetern Gamers


Do veterns find it difficult sometimes to accept new trends, find new players, feel isolated when they visit the local comic book shop, and find themselves playing "in the closet" because of their age?
What are are your feelings and experiences on being or dealing with a veteran?

My own observances and experiences (from the vetern point of view):
Please excuse me for sounding a bit like a bitter, gray haired, veteran. The first thing I listed below happened very recently. I'm still feeling a bit chaffed about it. It's the driving force behind posting this article.

1. Recently my husband and I went to a local game store to buy new dice and mini's. Somehow conversation with a clerk ensued about favorite RPG's. When the clerk discovered our favorite table top games were old, out-of-print systems he began treating us like infidels that needed converting!
His whole attitude went from friendly to patronizing in the blink of an eye. After trying, fruitlessly, to defend our favorite out-of-print products we left; feeling as if we were verbaly attacked.
This is not the first time we received prejudice for our preferences. It's just the first time we have received such a rude and overt reaction.

2. We have tried newer systems. We spent a fortune on the latest and greatest of new D&D stuff last year (or was that 2 years ago?). Our recent purchases have been Battle Tech, Shadowrun, Hero, and downloadable supplements for Spacemaster and Rolemaster. We play new products whenever we feel like we need a change, or just want a short game. But the newer systems will probably never become our favorites. It seems like every new game we have tried ends up gathering dust on the gaming book shelf until we want to try something different (which is not very often I might add). Our favorites remain the RPG's and additions we played 10-20 years ago.

3. Occasionally we invite younger players (aged from 18-25) from a LARP my husband plays to join our gaming group. These players never stick around for long. The longest was around for a year but he left for college. We liked him and wanted him to stay, but most new blood, however, were just too "immature" or their age didn't fit in with our group of older gamers. Everyone in our group is married and/or has children. It's hard for us to discuss the difficulties of dating and final exams with intent interest.

4. As my daughter grows up I often get questions from other parents. "So what do you do to relax, de-stress, and have fun?" I usually answer "I have a group of friends that we play games with twice a month". I know they are assuming I'm talking about board games. I never ever tell them that the games are RPG's and sometimes my daughter makes a character and we play innocent watered down versions with her. I never tell them game development consumes most of my free time and is considered a hobby for me. They would think I'm crazy and label me as 'out of touch with reality'. My daughter would have no one to play with because parents would consider us unacceptable.
I don't know how I'm going to handle this when my daughter gets older and begins telling other parents we role-play as a family.

It was one thing to admit to being an avid table top gamer in high school and even in college, but now when I do mention it to peers I get astonished, unapproving looks.

5. Also recent trips to the gaming store has elicited the greeting of "Mamm, May I help you choose something for your son/daughter?" My reaction depends upon my mood, and lately it has not been good.

6. Do you find yourself taking parts of two or more older games and trying to make them work together, or making your own tables, rules, and entire supplements for the sake of correcting or adding to a game that is out of print?
My groups recent incidents of this-
My husband ran a Battle Tech game using 2nd edition and instead of using Mechwarrior to make characters he modified Hero rules to mesh with BT (omitting all the super powers and re-doing a lot of the weapons).
Now we are fiddling with ICE's Spacemaster trying to make parts from the newer version work with parts from the original version.
Most recently we decided we don't like using Rolemaster's Treasure Companion for actions like picking pockets and determining treasure in pouches. It just doesn't make sense picking a pocket and getting a +20 broad sword! So we made our own charts for determining pocket and pouch items (including creature encounters).
Sometimes I feel like our gaming rules has become Frankenstein! A mish mash of parts and pieces from the different games we love.

Finally, a discussion that has comes up in our gaming group more than once.
Someone needs to make producers and vendors of games realize that families of gamers usually produce gamers for life. They should respect older gamers more as we will always be buying their products and administering advice and mentorship to the younger crowd.
They also might try catering to an older crowd occasionally by reprinting older products in limited editions, or playing on our need for nostalgia by printing old stories and advice from veteran gamers and printing re-vamped modules from vintage gaming (D&D did re-do some modules but the ones I have played were not very good. Then again, I don't a like a lot of new d20 stuff). I know at least 7 older gamers that would buy older editions if they were reprinted, and at least 5 young gamers that would purchase it out of curiosity. They know others that would as well.

What are the feelings, experiences, and rants, of other veteran gamers and those non-veterns dealing with veterns?

From what I read from your article, you have three criticisms -- one, that old favourite games have been retired; two, that the new games don't appeal to you; and three, that veteran gamers don't get respect.

Although I a sympathetic to your plight I think you need to take a step back a re-evaluate what you are reacting to.
Every game on the market was created by a game company to provide enjoment for the players. They wrote the game with a target audience and a life cycle. There are many older games with a familiar set of rules and expectations that players can become accustomed to. Unlike Monopoly, RPG's are media of creative play. Although the rules provide structure and bias the game is supposed to exist outside of the framework of the rules. Like a novel, a game company cannot expect to keep reprinting the same thing and get results. An RPG supplement has a functional shelf life of 1 year only. Main source books are re-written as often as once every two years. That is the reality of the gaming business.

This brings me to my main set of questions. Why do you want publishers to reprint vintage games? Many of these games can be acquired through e-bay. Why do you expect that the new games will appeal to you as most of them have a target audience of 11-20 (as these are the people with free time/money to play them)? Why do you expect younger players to respect the fact that you have played a game for a long time? Gamers will talk about "veterans" as if they have earned something by playing a game for a long time. Veteran is a word probably best used for something else entirely. Do you resent that there are twelve year-olds down at the local hobby store with 16th level characters?

You should expect people to treat you with respect, but not because of how long you have played a game. You should expect that some gaming company out there will target a product at the post thirty-five market.

When I first came to my current gaming group I was by far the youngest. I didn't want to be judged by my age any more than I wanted to have to defer to my seniors. I just wanted to play a game.

I am interested to know what it is about the current games that you don't find appealing.

I didn't really intend on lambasting you. I feel I may have, and I apologize if this post reads that way. I just want to shake up your perceptions/expectations.

Things I saw when I read the original post:
1) The clerk tried to convert you from out of print to current product. Technically, this is his job. His boss makes no profit from him not selling what they don't/can't carry. If he sells you the latest supplement for PoodleBombs, his boss makes money and is happy so he (the clerk) gets to be happy. Bearing in mind also this this kid is working for near minimum wage and store discount, he probably hasn't bothered working on his people skills.

2) Nothing is ever like the good old days. "In my day we didn't need feats. And our characters stuck to just one class. And we liked it plenty."

3) Bringing new people into an existing group. These new people aren't in on the old jokes, which if analyzed usually aren't that funny unless you knew Joe (or whomever) or other circumstances at the time. As far as small talk, you are right, you aren't enthusuastic about exams or dating and the newbies aren't excited about your kids or jobs. Talk about movies, TV, books and or games that are interesting to all of you (or at least both sides of the conversation). I know this is difficult bcause all I want to do is talk about my kid.

4)It is distressing when people start acknowledging your age. People call you Sir or Maam, you stop geeting carded for booze, the clown, err cashier, at McDonald's asks for your aarp card. Deal with it. As far as other parents, say "We play PRG's." when they ask what's that repond "Like World of Warcraft, or City of Heroes." Those are mainstream enough that further questions should be delayed until they know you. And what is wrong with bored games.

5)"We are looking for...". Let him decide whom he's helping. After a few minutes of you not asking the child's opiion of the product, the clerk may or may not get the hint and who cares. As an observation, you are not a frequent visitor/chatter at the FLGS or the clerks would know you are the gamer. They are entitled to make mistakes. Alternitively, you could suggest he ask "May I help you find something?"

6)The current management of big gaming has seen and been doing this for years and it is actually the genesis of "Universal" systems such as Gurps, Hero, d20 and others. The problem you face is that your favorites were not chosen to be the basis for these universal systems. Sadly, the choice is change to a universal system, or deal with it.

Steve Jackson Games offers most of their older Gurps product in PDF. I'm sure some other companies do also. Most things are available on e-bay if you are persistant and patient. Also game convention auctions are a great source for vintage games, Often at discoounted prices.


Good for you, Mudyfoot. You have resisted the siren call of society that expects a person of your age to 'grow up' and conform to accepted and expected modes of behaviour. You haven't lost touch with your imagination and your inner child as happens so easily when people grow older. As a diehard 41-year old gamer myself, with a steady job, home and family to support, I know that this is not easy. It's maybe not quite as hard as a tour of duty in the hot zone, but I don't begrudge your use of the word 'Veteran'.

As for being patronised by the young store clerk, well, maybe you should cut him a little slack. It's not for nothing that Oscar Wilde once quipped "I'm not young enough to know everything". And as others here have said, it is his job, after all, to try to persuade you to buy new product.

My own gaming group are a bunch of grizzled vets, by and large. Our ages are, in descending order, 1 x 41, 4 x 37-38, 1 x 35, 2 x 30, and one other chap who's just joined who I guess is somewhere between 30 and 40. We have played around with various systems. Our backbone campaign has been running in 1e D&D since the mid 90's. We are in the process of converting to 3.5e, which I am finding on the whole to be a significant improvement on 1e, though it needs a certain amount of customisation to fit our campaign. But you don't need me to tell you that systems are secondary to having the right group of people and a healthy appetite for roleplaying (as opposed to roll-playing), and no amount of expenditure on systems and supplements can buy you that.

1e D&D will continue to be played, I am sure, just as classical music hasn't altogether disappeared. I have a great fondness for the flavour of Gary Gygax's earlier modules some of which have touches of 'supernatural horror' lurking at the fringes of one's peripheral vision. And I love those old monsters - like the rust monster and the bulette - based on those weird plastic creatures that you used to find in bags of made-in-HK dinosaurs for sale in the late 60's/early 70's. I understand that the monsters were based on the toys and not the other way around. I never did find out what the plastic figures were actually supposed to be - some chinaman's idea of prehistoric insects maybe, or creatures from chinese myth? Or aliens? Enquiring minds want to know.

Have you tried the following sources for 1e materials?:

My own campaign is based in the World of Greyhawk. You can take a look at our campaign forum if you are interested:

It's a shame that Pen'n'Paper RPGers feel the need to hide their gamer credentials from the public at large. Gamer pride rallies, anyone? I have a feeling that the stigma might be fading a little, now that so many mainstreamers are hooked on stuff like WoW - though pure WoW junkies talk such a different language and have such a munchkins-on-steroids culture compared to real roleplayers that it's hard to have a peer-gamer conversation with them.

As for the whole 'What will other parents think when they find out we play RPGs' thing, this is something that also concerns me. My own daughter is 4 years old now and is prone to say 'Dad, can we go to the Dungeons and Dragons shop' out loud when I take her out shopping. I have to keep my 'Libris Mortis' and 'Hordes of the Abyss' out of reach of her little grasping fingers. She hasn't started playing yet but can't wait. In a couple of years maybe, once she's learnt to read and write, I may start running some watered-down games for her as you have for your daughter. I'd rather she played D&D in her spare time than become some Barbie-obsessed airhead. I won't force her, of course, but somehow I don't think I'll need to.

Our groups ranges in age from 31 to 11 (almost twelve). Most of us are 25+. My wife and I have three kids, and my sister-in-law has 2, one of which is the aforementioned 11 year old.

During games we talk about music, movies, our bad neighbors, and constantly make jokes. Our games are fun for nebies and vets alike. The only people that the games aren't fun for are very serious gamers who have to stay on topic and those with stringent moral and ethical boundries (as our jokes can get pretty raunchy).

We do not tone down the game for the kids (other than our language). They are exposed to worse by TV. Our youngest player simply plays a character who either has a lower IQ or someone who has led a somewhat sheltered life (ex-slave). We do this because we feel that when you hide things from children, you fail to prepare them for what lies ahead in life. Thus our youngling has dealt with issues of violence, deceit, and choosing the moral high ground even in adversity. He has also learned that his actions reflect who he is and other people react accordingly (never play a coward). He is growing up, as I did, by playing the game.

What's really cool is that we don't intentionally set out to do this. We just play, the lessons are there for anyone to learn.

When people ask my wife and I what we do for fun, we tell them that we roleplay (like Dungeones and Dragons, but it's a different game). If they want to know more, I tell them.

Very rarely do I get a bad response. When I do get a jerk, I usually ask them how much time they spend watching TV (usualy four hours a day). Then I ask them how much time they spend socializing with their kids or other people (usually a lot less. Most people try to say that they watch TV as a family).

Then I explain to them that watching TV (or movies or whatever) is passive entertainment; you are a spectater to something that someone else has created. Roleplaying is active entertainment; you are creating a story as a group. You can enjoy this active exersize with family and friends.

Thus, while they are rotting on the couch in indifference to the time that they are missing with their kids, we interact socially with our kids and some friends twice a week. And we are increasing our intelligence and that of our children by doing so.

As for the guy in the store; who cares? He can't be as bad as the average Walmart employee. At least he spoke to you, in your language.