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Mine were fine with it. One of my brother is 2 years younger than me-- we were 13 and 11 when we started in 1981 (or '82, I really can't remember which). We played together a lot more than we played with the neighborhood kids, so it was nothing new.
My father had some interest in WW2 (he was born 2 weeks after Pearl Harbor, that's always been a particular interest of his), and I read most of the paperbacks he had on the shelves, as well as everything I could find at the library. Neither parent had any interest in playing. Pop is a model railroader, so he already had his hobby. He once told us he didn't want to play our games, because they required thinking. He did a lot of thinking at work, and didn't want to do it at home.
He had been in the Army during the greater part of the Vietnam War, but never went overseas. When we started collecting wargames, he asked us not to get any VN wargames. Mom later said that a lot of guys in his ROTC summer camp went off to war, so that was probably too close for him. Eventually, we did pick up a few, but we tried not to flaunt those at him. WW2 was much more interesting, anyway.
Once we got to high school, we also played a lot of D&D and some other RPGs, too, those were easier to get other guys to play. My parents didn't sweat those, either, and found the satanic scare to be silly. Years later, Mom's comment was, "We weren't worried-- we knew where you and your friends were on Friday night." Our Catholic high school was just fine with it, we had a D&D club for most of the time I was there. In senior year, the bishop said no more official clubs, but we had explicit permission from our principal to continue unofficially.
I think the only negative comment I can remember was from a great-aunt, probably 1983 or '84. Our family was on summer vacation at the lake, and my brother and I had packed Squad Leader (plus CoI & CoD) and possibly some other games, which we played on an unused door in the basement of the house. "The sun is shining, and you two are down here. Like a pair of moles." Then she laughed, and walked away. In our defense, there was no air conditioning, it was a hot summer, and the basement was both rather cool and away from our younger brothers and sister.
I came from a very strict religious background and my parents were not comfortable at all with my desire to learn and play wargames - we won't even go into Fantasy or SciFi... Funny ,we would sing "Onward Christian Soldiers" every week but no one connected the dots...
My dad thought that I loved killing, but I could not convince him that reading a 14-30 page rulebook would not be my first choice if I wanted to kill something.
I think that the love of numbers, strategy, art and imagination made wargames such an opiate for me - something that video and even miniature gaming just couldn't do. Yes, the pieces were cardboard, often they had a box and a couple numbers on them, but I could spend hours just evaluating the possible moves and how they would look in my imagination streaming over the desert, ocean or lava fields. Tremendous fun.
Most games forced you to learn fractions, ratios, odds and complex numeric fomulas and I know this helped me in school.
I think that is also why many of us can just have joy in SETTING the game up and not playing it! I remember taking almost two weeks to get the full Europa (GRD) for the Eastern Front setup according to the OOB and made sure every Division, Regiment and such were the correct numbers as well - played one move and simply couldn't go on!
No matter, the bug had bit me and literally hundreds of boardgames later, I am still facinated by the idea - and so so so pissed we didn't have the internet, color printers and a kinkos when I was a kid!
My old man was devoutly Catholic, and had some real issues with wargames too, some of them religious. Did you ever have that Bible passage used against your hobby, about putting down childish things and picking those of a man?
Well as a person I wanted to be more like the New Testament, but in an arguement I went straight to the Old and quote all the "smiting" that god told people to do.
Hard to argue when I am reading out: "Kill every Philistine, Man, Woman, Child, Servant and Cattle"...at least most of my board games gave the player a 'surrender option'. ;)
Since I posted my first response, I have jumped back into the hobby somewhat publishing a game this October. The analytical skills you develop playing any wargame are something you can use in life. Each one of these simulations is like a management course with planning, accounting, execution and fate are all lessons learned. To be able to play many of them you have to research, become somewhat of an expert on the history and the tactics of the time. It all sounds like great motivation for learning and developing multidimensional thinking. If you ran a poll on what occupations wargamers have, the results would completely contradict your doubting parents and organized religion's ungrounded opinions. Besides some of the best wargames pit one religion against another like the Crusades or 30 years war. Pope Urban had no problem with warfare. From God's lips to his ear.
My parents were neutral but my mother did give me the money to buy a few of them. They were horrendously expensive over here in Singapore.
My mother encouraged even bought me my first game without I had not seen it before. My Father was just kind of a dick about anything anybody was doing.
Both of my parents were neutral. My Mother really had no interest in anything I did, and my Dad had spent 32 months overseas in the PTO ( 3rd Raider Battalion and 4th Marine Regiment) so having seen the Elephant up close and personal, he had no interest at all. He was also very blue collar, so complex games were not going to attract his attention regardless of the subject. My reason for playing grew from my interest in history, and games in general. It was natural I started playing wargames early.
My parents were supportive. My older brother (5yrs) got me "into" wargames with '64 AH Gettysburg. We, as a family (6x), played the usual array of parlor games (Monopoly, Sorry, Parcheesi, etc....) fairly regularly. This included a period of time in the 60s-70s, during vacations to our grandparents farm with extended family (uncles/cousins), we'd play the MB series of wargames (Broadside, Hit the Beach, Battle Cry, Dogfight, Battleship, Stratego). So when I carried the torch and got into the 'heavier' wargames of the day (again, AH, SPI, etc..) it seemed a natural progression in my parents view.They saw the value how it honed my interest in military history, what I would read about (often), etc..
They never played any of them with we (I always had my gaming clique), but when I bought something new and had it laid out playing solitare/learning the rules, etc., my dad would always take some time to see what it was, what it was about, check out the map and counters, and showed some interest in how combat was done especially with various CRTs and TECs in play.