I’ve been running the RPG club at school for a while. We play from 3 to 4:30. I have teens - currently running two groups. One group 12 - 15 and the other group 15+.
We started with D+D but I quickly went away from that because of the slow nature of that system.
After running a game where I gave kids refugees to look after, and the big feels these kids were having, I realized most of all I wanted to challenge the kids to move toward the concept of making important choices for the story with less of a focus on the mechanical power increases.
On top of this is time. With the short play time I want the kids to focus heavily on what is going on in the game in front of them rather than playing out mechanics. I naturally gravitated toward story based games, which move quickly through combats. I went with Dungeon World for a little bit, then OSR stuff like Black Hack and ICRPG - mainly because the kids have a desire to play ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ - and use all of the dice rather than 2d6.
At the moment I’m subjecting my younger group to be playtesters of my Knights of Avalon game, which is a sort of story-game version of Pendragon. They get rather excited to the point where they go to art stores to draw the campaign map on and so forth.
With the younger group I find it interesting that there’s always the desire for power growth - the game has a phase where they all add potential adventures to the map, and each of those are almost all rather blatantly selfish. The most egregious of these are things like 'The Warden Sword that can only be wielded by my family line guarded by dragons that only let me through - ’ sort of stuff. I roll with it, and they seem to love it and have a rather democratic way of choosing their quests so everyone gets a turn at least.
In a positive note there’s a bit of addressing of toxic masculinity in the group entirely made up of boys. My setting is a fantasy feudal one with relaxed gender norms. I had one boy comment about how women just aren’t as smart as men and another boy ripped through him about access to education and girls being positioned that way, so thats a positive learning moment without me doing more than turning to the first kid and raising an eyebrow.
A second came up naturally in the game, where (come to think of it, the same kid) bullied a fisherman and physically pushed him around - only to find the other kids telling him off for not behaving as a knight, and one sworn oath that if he mistreated another peasant he’d lose his head. The younger crew don’t really see their characters as anything other than themselves, though they are improving on that.
As playtesters they don’t have a lot of feedback for me other than 'YEAH! and ‘LETS DO MORE!’ and then tell me how they see their knight getting some sort of super ‘Warden’ armour and being invincible, but thats kids.
My older group, and the other two groups in the school, are made up entirely of the LGBTIQ+ and allies kids, which is interesting. I made no effort to gather this group in particular, nor do I attend any of the school meetings for those kids or anything, but the group seemed to gravitate to me.
I ran a Cthulhu Dark game with them to start with set in 1917 Australia where a Colour from Space has taken up residence in an all girls boarding school on an island. I had to admit I was amused that they were terrified of the schooling system in 1917 than the weird stuff around the Colour.
After that I ran Blades in the Dark (I offered many options - they settled on Blades). Like many kids they have time so they are all doing up portraits and writing stories for their characters seedy backgrounds, but they get to live interesting criminal lives dealing ‘Snap’ and ghost-haunted trinkets in the middle of a gang war. Unlike the younger crowd, these kids are very willing to do dubious or downright nasty things for power, but seperate themselves strongly from their characters. The older crew talk about their character goals a lot more in third person ‘Bugsby wants to train rats to steal coins…’.
Anyway, those are my experiences so far.