I’m a gamer but I don’t own a video game system. Instead, I have a collection of tabletop games; analog dice, card, and other types of games.
I grew up playing Batteship, Clue, and Monopoly, and while instilling a love of games, it was not a hobby. Now, I have bookcases overflowing with games, listen to podcasts about games, watch videos about games, even attend conventions about games. Board gaming is a hobby; one I greatly enjoy sharing with my family.
Two-player games with my partner are usually the extent of my adult-only gaming. We don’t pick anything too elaborate. As parents of young children, we are never fully off-duty.
Sometimes we play adult games with our children involved passively; more as a two-player team scenario. Here, play this card for us, or can you roll our dice? This works with moderate success if the game is short and the kids young enough.
The most we play games is as a family. We play either kids games or light family games. Our children might need a little guidance reading or strategy but we don’t interfere much with their choices.
A game doesn’t have to be inherently educational to have value as a learning tool. There are mathematical opportunities from counting pips on a die, to the number of spaces to move or cards to draw. Language can be explosive during game sessions with excitement for the objective (my speech-delay son has great spontaneous speech during our game sessions). And many games have themes based on historical places, time periods, or fantastical games based on actual mythology.
My youngest is almost three and loves games; some he can play completely autonomous. He retrieves a game from the shelf, sets it up and is ready to play. Favorite games include My First Carcassonne, Rabbit Rally, and Loopin Chewy.
My daughter is in kindergarten and often plays based on color preference; no matter if towards her objective or not. As long as it is a legal play, we might inform her of a different strategy but ultimately allow her to make the decision. She often prefers to play as a team with an adult. Her favorite games are My Little Pony Rainbow Magic, Ghosts Love Candy, and Curious George Discovery Beach.
My eldest is seven and is growing into quite the gamer. His reading skills allow him secret information (such as cards) without needing help. He is even starting to pick up the idea of role-playing with our most recent acquisition, Dinosaur Tea Party. Think of Guess Who? next level. Favorite games are Dungeon Dice, Labyrinth, and The Great Dinosaur Rush.
When choosing a new game to play, a fantastic website, boardgamegeek.com is an invaluable resource. Their database contains reviews, pictures, and videos for over 99,000 games!! I can easily find stats for a game (player count, minimum age, game length, publisher, designer), mechanisms, categories, or any awards the game has earned.
The spectrum of gaming has evolved. No longer are we limited to roll and move, spinners, pop-o-matics, or pure chance. Walk into most big box stores and survey the vast array of game choices (some even store exclusives). Target is a personal favorite for scoping out games and has many exclusives to boot. Half Price Books also has quite a selection and is always entertaining for wildcard choices. Using the Board Game Geek site, anyone can make informed decisions on games and I say go for it! Nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I am so thankful my family has board games to bring us together. Our experiences are memories I’ll cherish for my life.