For a good example of a game my seven-year-olds love, check out Le Boomb from Mayfair Games. It's essentially Hot Potato with a die, nothing fancy at all, but the kids cackle with glee and groan with agony every time we play it.

While we have a ball with such games, they're not the more sophisticated kinds that I love. The kids were just too young for them-until now.

Marty-my eldest-is now 10 years old, and he's ready to move up. Earlier this year, he'd been bugging me for months to take him to a tabletop gaming convention like Gen Con or Origins so he could dive into the deep end of hobby games. We had played a bit of Descent, and that got him hooked.

The trouble is that Gen Con and Origins are huge shows, and I have a lot of professional responsibilities at them. However, there are smaller conventions all over the country every weekend. Last March, I broke down and took Marty to one of them: Gary Con.

Gary Con is held to honor the memory of Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons and co-founder of its publisher, TSR. Gary died in March of 2008, and after his funeral many of his friends and family gathered in the American Legion Hall in Lake Geneva to play games, swap stories, and generally have the kind of day that Gary would have loved. It went so well that that his children decided to make it an annual event.

I met Gary for the first time at my first game convention, Winter Fantasy, held in that same American Legion Hall back in the winter of 1981-82. I was only 13 years old at the time, and I hadn't been back there since. When I walked into the building for the wake, though, it seemed like I had never left.

I wanted to share that with Marty, so when the first official (non-wake) Gary Con rolled around, I brought him out for the day. When we arrived, Frank Mentzer was just about to start running a game using the original, white-box D&D rules, taking the players through the first-ever printed D&D adventure module, The Palace of the Vampire Queen, from third-party publisher Wee Warriors.

Frank had been Gary's right-hand man at TSR for years, and I'd known both him and Gary for decades. I'd freelanced for them when they were running New Infinities, the company Gary founded after leaving TSR in the late '80s. I knew he was a great Dungeon Master, and I was thrilled to have a chance to play in such a historic game with him.

Since this was Marty's first time actually playing D&D, we decided to let him play the fighter and to let me coach him as he went. We had an absolute ball. When it was all over, Frank even presented each of the players with an autographed certificate that declared that they were part of the proud, happy few who'd been able to join him in this event over the years.

Marty was hooked.

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