Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (mostly) on Sundays. Enjoy!
Playing Warhammer 40k With Children
What I’ve always loved about having kids is that I can enjoy their play with them. Not because I have a secret desire to play with Lego, but because they enjoy it and they enjoy the shared activity.
As my son gets older the opportunities to do that have lessened. The natural choice, the aforementioned Lego, is something he’s always had an affinity with. There was a time when we would build stuff together but now he’s 9 he’s quite capable of building even complex models on his own.
Our joint playtime had reduced down to finding games we could play cooperatively on the Xbox together and, while I do enjoy computer games, it always seems a bit of an empty experience. A time sink between calls outs when I am on call with work.
My ears perked up a couple of months ago when he returned from his cousins having encountered an old Hero Quest box. Hero Quest came out during my early teens and was a collaboration between MB Games and a little-known UK company called Games Workshop. The notion was to introduce mainstream players to the world of tabletop wargaming and role play. I recall running across it in my youth.
The fantasy setting was never my thing but their other main world, 40K was an alluring blend of war in the far future fought by superhuman space marines and esoteric aliens. At the time I knew I was geeky but didn’t feel really that comfortable with the notion, I played anyway with a bunch of equally geeky people.
I wondered if, after all these years, 40K was still ‘a thing’, and so did a little internet research and, man oh man, is it still a thing. Over the last 30 years, GW has grown massively and their tabletop games are now a worldwide phenomenon.
I showed my son a few YouTube videos and he was as hooked as I was, so it looks like we do have a hobby together after all.
At first glance price of entry into 40K can look high. A budget of around £150 is probably required to get playing and painting but I compared this to the £450 outlay required for the new generation of consoles and it did not seem so steep. After a few conversations with the wife, we managed to find some budget for us to get involved.
What has followed has been a really fun few weeks. My son has immersed himself in the rich lore that surrounds the 40K world and I’ve dived into painting our army ready for battle. He’s happy as he loves learning about the facts and ‘history’ of the far future world, I’m happy because an hour painting is a perfect way to soothe post-work tensions.
More than anything though, I’m pleased to have found a hobby for us that seems so wholesome. I’d been put off a lot of computer games simply because I felt that the content wasn’t appropriate or the environment of the game, particularly when playing online. I wanted to keep spending time with him as he gets older but I did not want to be doing it in that kind of atmosphere.
As we’ve learned more about 40K via Facebook and YouTube, the resounding impression has been one of a community that is diverse and tolerant, despite being set around ‘a grimdark future in which there is only war’.
At 44 I’m now comfortable with who I am, a geek that likes sci-fi, and I love that the hobby I left as an awkward teen has blossomed into something my son and I can enjoy together. I may write more about it, I may not, but assuredly, my hobby time with my son is far from over.