Saturday, 16 August 2014

Gaming with kids - Recap


"Hey all!

My name is Jonny, and Nate over at the WONDERFUL #boardgamehour wanted -- nay, couldn’t live without -- a recap of everything fantastical that was happening in the best hour of our (gaming) week. What this article does is take the entire chat that occurred this past week, and condense it into what people said on each topic! If this is something that you all enjoy, we will make sure that we recap every week’s discussion, so that we can keep a record of our hilarious and lively discussions. Without further ado, here are the answers to the top 10 questions on this week’s topic, board gaming with kids!"
- Jonny Rivera of We Make Games

Board gaming with kids

Q1.) Do you play games with kids? If so, how often and what age group?

The #boardgamehour community enjoys playing games with kids (mostly the 8-12 age range) about one night each week. The majority of the community agrees that this 8-12 age group “gets the most” out of gaming; at that age, they can read, comprehend, and be taught rules while still enjoying the gameplay. The community mentioned that that teens are often included in game nights, but it can take more work to make it “cool” to them, especially if the teen hasn’t grown up in a gaming environment.

Q2.) How accurate are the age descriptors on the side of the box?
Unfortunately, age descriptors are mostly inaccurate and unhelpful, but it depends on the child. Parents will always know the capabilities of their children better than a game company. Generally, the only part that is useful is the warning about what parts are unsafe for children under a certain age. Often, games state a “13+” rating so that they do not have to pay for safety testing, even if the game is suitable for children due to an appropriate theme and no small parts. Reading comprehension is the most important factor in playing a game with a child, so the age at which they can read effectively is a huge factor in determining which games will be fun and age-appropriate.

Q3.) What are some games that are good for both kids and adults and have good replay value?

For an enjoyable and lasting experience for both kids and adults, King of Tokyo, Dixit, Animal Upon Animal, Ticket to Ride, Rampage, Forbidden Island, Smash Up, and Sushi-go were the most commonly praised.

Q4.) What mechanics are good for introducing games to kids?

Three main game mechanics are good for introducing games to kids: dice rolling, voting, and matching. Introducing kids to a variety of different mechanics is always a good thing so that they get to experience all types of mechanics to determine their favorite. More often than not, the theme is much more important than the mechanics of the game because that is what will gain and hold their interest. Games that have a social component are good for teaching children how to interact not only amongst themselves, but also with adults.

Q5.) Do you allow your kids at game night? What age Is allowed? How do you deal with them acting up?

Often, the people with kids host the game night. Most of the kids are paired with adults to form a team so it is less of an “us vs. them” mentality. Typically, gaming groups play more kid-friendly games while the children are awake and then start more adult-themed or challenging games after the kids are in bed.

The reality is that because of the typical age of most groups of gamers, kids and the occasional “acting up” are common during game nights. Instead of focusing on the child’s age, the maturity level is the more important factor, which is true for adults as well. Children need to work through the “acting up” and learn from the consequences, because if they don’t experience game nights, how will they know how to behave at them in the future? Game nights are clearly an important part of your life, so you should make it a part of their lives as well!

Q6.) What is your main focus when playing games with kids? Fun, educational, taking turns, social?

The focus is always about fun; everything else is a byproduct. Taking turns is more relevant for younger children, as they must wait to do their actions and this is not something that generally comes naturally. Learning sportsmanship is a very important factor, along with how to win and lose. Studies show that learning from games can actually be more useful than learning in a classroom, so expose your kids early to the life lessons that board games provide.

Q7.) What age range needs more games “designed” for them? What are the design challenges?

There needs to be more games made for the 3-6 age range. A child’s ability to read is a major factor in their interest in board gaming. Games made for children ages 6-9 without necessary adult supervision are difficult to come across as well. The biggest design challenge is making each player feel that they have an even chance compared to the rest of the players. Kids learn by seeing and doing, so let them partner with another player who can lead by example. There needs to be more games designed for teens as this is generally the age that board gaming falls out of favor with them.

Q8.) How do you teach kids to be good winners or losers?

Teach by example. Win and lose with grace. Allow them to experience both winning and losing. Make them understand that if they don’t act appropriately, they will not be able to play again. Short games offer the opportunity for lots of wins and losses. The biggest takeaway here is that it is important to let children lose. Don’t always let your kids win. It doesn’t do anything for them and it will often lead to being a poor sport. As a side note, buy them food. Losing is better with food.

Q9.) Should people take kids to gaming conventions?

Yes, because they are awesome and kids should experience awesome things. Just don’t be that guy who leaves his child unattended. If your kids don’t want to go, don’t force them to go. If they do, make sure that they will understand what they are doing when they are there. You want them to get the most out of the experience, not just be afraid of being trampled to death the next time they go to a gaming convention.

10.) #Boardgamehour will be opening up the nominations for the upcoming awards. You will have a chance to vote by putting them in a specific hashtag.

Quote of the week: “We can substitute kids for casual gamers and everything still works.” Basically, replace the word “kids” with the phrase “casual gamers” in this #boardgamehour and it still makes sense! Clearly, this statement is meant in jest, but you have to admit that the correlation is uncanny.

I hope you all enjoyed reliving this little slice of board gaming heaven, and I look forward to chatting with you next week. Until next time, may all your meeples be merry.

Big thanks for doing this to the awesome Jonny from: 

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Thanks for adding to the conversation on Ministry of Board Games ;-)