Saturday, September 21, 2013

Getting ready to raise a geek girl

Back in July my wife and I welcomed our first, completely new person--a baby girl. Those of you with kids already know what I'm learning--what an incredible experience it is to be a first-time parent--and that the human body begins to fall apart without sufficient sleep! (Actually, she's let us sleep a lot more than we expected.)

Anyway, in the last several months--including many leading up to her arrival--I've spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of media (okay, geek stuff!) we'll expose her to and, of course, when and how much. We've made a conscous descision to try to stem the pink princess tide as much as possible. If it happens it happens, but we're not inviting it (try having that conversation with an overly-exhuberant grandma!).

Truth is, geek girls have it a bit rougher since a lot of this stuff has historically been geared towards males. It's worth noting that there's a lot I thought would be "fine" for a boy, but the second I found out we're having a girl, I seemingly became very sensitive to what's "appropriate." My own definition of that is still evolving. Thankfully, websites like A Mighty Girl and Star Wars Parenting have certainly helped to give me ideas for content and activities. That said though, we hope to get her interested in "the basics" as it were.

A Classical Geek Education
Star Wars is a given. Original Trilogy all the way! And we'll only bring up the prequels if we have to, like when
One of a select few approved princesses....
some kid talks it about it at school and then we'll talk about in hushed tones with heavy guilt and embarassment. And then, when she's a bit more savvy: Star Trek (maybe closer to 9 or 10 years old?).

Of course we'll introduce comic books, but with a heavy dose of regular books as well. Wonder Woman can sometimes be complicated, but ultimately she's the most reconizable heroine.

My personal favorite: Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld. Yeah, I know, trading purple for pink, isn't much of a stretch! But Amethyst can hold her own and she's a truely original warrior princess--2 years before She-ra arrived(who was based off a boys' toyline) and long before Xena.

And I'll introduce her to my passion for Ray Harryhausen films. Too bad there's no girl-centric films in that vein. But I also want to be able to experience games and fun projects where she (and I) might actually learn something!

I know there will be some beloved games I'll teach her my favorite, Dungeon!* when she's old enough to grasp dice without swallowing. But it had me thinking, what about other family-oriented games, like the Munchkin series from Steve Jackson? (Frankly, I'm not too familiar with those games.)

Eventually we'll try some RPGs, X-plorers for sure, but also Marvel Superheroes (FASERIP Forever!) and yes, even D&D. Probablly one of the Mentzer or Holmes box sets to start.

This is where you come in...
I know there's also plenty of homebrew or retroclone games specifically for kids--what I don't know is how many of you have played or with what level of success.

I've got my list of nerd stuff, but I'd like to open it up to readers. And not just game stuff--if you're a parent (or an aunt or an uncle) and are charged with nerding up your ward--what's been the most fun/rewarding stuff?

List your favorite geek activities and recommendations in the comments!

*Of which I currently possess 3 different versions! 


  1. Congrats and enjoy! Goes fast. You'll blink and she'll be a teen. Dungeon is great. Also, at a young age, maps. Just plan maps, and gameboards. One of mine, especially, loved maps and boards, and drawing their own. A really cool map, some minis, and just improv a game on the spot of your own devising. Story, story, story.

    1. Man, congrats and welcome to the club! Don't sweat it, kids go easy once they start to walk, then talk, and then buy two thousand microsoft points for this REALLY rad game on Xbox using your credit card. My boy did that last month, and he's only six! Don't know if I spank him or put him into a hacker school.

      Anyway, just got him into RPG one year ago, using a local version of whitebox, with lots of paper minis, maps and props, like Hero Quest. He loves it, and I may graduate him into proper RPG gaming mechanics next year.

  2. Congrats! I have two princesses of my own. Despite my best efforts, they are as girly as they come. After awhile, you don't really notice all the pink. But recently, they have discovered the Skylanders series from Activision. Finally, something geeky that they can play with Dad.

  3. My recommendation is not to over-think it. Whatever you do to try and 'influence' them, they'll surprise you in some way. Both of mine (18 and nearly 17 now) are geeks in some for, but neither in a way I would have anticipated (and my daughter went through the pink princess phase too, by the way).

  4. Congratulations! I don't have any kids and must admit I'm a bit jealous of the guy who brings in his three young sons to all the LotR and FoW tournaments. You know, they actually hold extensive intra-family practice sessions before the tournaments! Anyway, the in-laws have blessed us with several nieces. I hope to get them to play Super Dungeon Explore. So far, they have shown no interest at all. It seems that the geek gene has skipped past all of them.