WagonCon gave us many opportunities to play games with new people. We always refine and adapt our games, demos, pitches, and presentations with each convention. This con opened our eyes to the creative ability of kids and how they are able to play in the world of Conspire.
Over the weekend, we played some Conspire sessions with The Leaches, a family of eight who were enjoying their second WagonCon. Their two youngest kids were under 10 years of age. Our two conspiracies were about a magic squirrel forest besieged by Cthulhu and a princess castle with a Godzilla infestation. Both games were a blast. Conspire consistently surprises us with its ability to handle whatever scenarios people throw at it.
For both these sessions, my partner and I took on the hosting duties. In doing so, we intervened as little as possible when getting scene ideas, roles, and story direction. The stream of consciousness style that works best for Conspire was preserved for the kids. While their parents subtly tried to keep things on the rails, we took every suggestion and fit into the world. The end results were as coherent as other sessions. They just had more magic animals.
The storytelling and world building came naturally to everyone. The hardest part for our youngest players was writing goals (which is, coincidentally, the hardest part for most players). That said, the issue was not a matter of rules comprehension, but rather one of presenting written sentences in a clear and concise way. They still gave direction to other players and breathed life into their own characters.
More interestingly, the kids excelled at the hidden-role aspect of Conspire. They knew when to be quiet about who they were and when to hint at their identities. Adults sometimes fail at this. Periodically, I will play with someone who asks “do I say who I am?” at the start of a round. They have trouble distinguishing between the character’s situation, motives, and identity, as well as notions of player versus character. Kids don’t seem to have this problem. They understand getting into character and talking to others who are also in character. They intuitively learn each other’s in-world identities through play and exploration. That is the core mechanic of Conspire.
These games caused us to amend Conspire’s minimum recommended age. We would say 10-year old players could safely play and enjoy the game. Players younger than that should also be given a chance to conspire with their families. After all, Conspire is our first game that doesn’t have dark, violent themes or a legal reason pushing the age limit up.