Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and since we are both Moms, we thought we would give you some tips for gaming with kids. For the most part, we love to game with our kids. However, time has taught us many lessons about how to handle the potential pitfalls. If you have never tried because you aren’t sure whether your kids are ready or aren’t sure that they can sit for the whole game at the table – we wholeheartedly recommend that you give it a try. (SHAMELESS PLUG: We encourage moms who want to try with their daughters to try at an ELS Day.) Also if you are an Aunt or Uncle or friend of the family who is interested in getting kids into gaming, this guide is for you too. This month we will be sharing our tips with you. Let’s just call it the quick start guide to gaming with kids.
- Evaluate the Kid Mood
It is no fun to play the game if a kid is easily frustrated and upset. Make sure your kids are well rested and not hungry before you start the game. Do not, we repeat DO NOT, play a game right before you start making dinner. It is no fun. At that point, not even snacks are enough to prevent a kid from being hangry. Any other time Snacks at the table are a must.
Also, if it is too close to bedtime or your child seems overtired- don’t start a game. It will only end in tears and no one wants that.
2. Patience, Patience, Patience
Anyone who has a kid knows, they can easily get under your skin. Teaching them the rules of a new game can really test you, so don’t hesitate to take a break from the game. And don’t ever worry about modifying rules to make it easier on yourself! Candyland actually caters to this with their rules about the face cards; for younger players, they encourage you to ignore the face cards if you’ve already passed them (typically you move back to the character). Meepleine just removes the face cards when playing with her 3-year-old.
3. Remember: You know your kid better than the box.
If you pick games based off of the age on the box; you may be doing yourself a disservice. There are going to always be exceptions to the rule and your kids may be one of those. Can your child read really well at five years old? They may be ready for a more advanced game than is considered “normal”. Lady Diceacorn figured this out when her (then five-year old) son wanted to play Lanterns after seeing it on the Tabletop YouTube series. After reviewing the video, she agreed and they tried to play together. It soon became a family favorite. The same thing happened with King of Tokyo and Sushi Go. And Meepleine plays a bunch of 13+ games with her 10-year-old, unless there are just too many rules. (Pandemic good, Star Trek Panic bad.)
4. Play the game with another adult before you play with your kids.
This is a big one. Make sure you understand the rules of the game before playing them with your kids. It will make sure that you can learn in peace and you won’t have your kids asking if it is time over and over until it was time.
5. Make Gaming a Lesson in social interaction.
Tabletop gaming is an amazing way to practice proper social interaction. Taking turns, waiting to talk and being a good sport are key things learned by children at a gaming table. Kids with special needs that hinder or hamper social interaction can “gamify” their life and it all starts at the table. (Lady Diceacorn will write about her experience with this in a future article.) Make your family game night a chance to show your kids how to behave at a table and refer to it in your everyday life. “Remember how you waited your turn when we played the game? Now is another time for taking turns.”
6. Start young
You can start playing as early as two years old, playing Go Fish and Matching games. There are a lot of great games for the three-year old and up that practice fine motor skills. Setting a regular family game night is a great way to spend time together, eat snacks and enforce those social interaction rules listed above. Meepleine plays games frequently with her 3-year-old; Peaceable Kingdom is an amazing company that makes games specifically for 2+!
7. Make sure that the games are fun!
If a game is not one that your kid will like – don’t play it. Some games just won’t be their favorite. If you have a Minecraft fan, like Lady Diceacorn and Meepleine, there is a Minecraft card game. It is a simple game that Lady Diceacorn has played several times with her son and it made him interested in trying other card games. There are tabletop games that are based off of a lot of pop culture and you can use those as a springboard to other games.
MAY’S FEATURED GAMES :
Game for kids 3+ : Who Shook Hook?
This game, based on the TV show Jake and the Neverland Pirates, is a combination of Kerplunk and Don’t Wake Daddy. You play Jake and his pirate friends Izzy and Cubby. They are trying to get their treasure back from a sleeping Captain Hook. There are several different hooks and tweezers that add different ways to remove the treasure from the hammock Hook is napping on. It is a lot of fun and full of laughs. The person who knocks Hook off of the hammock loses.
Honorable Mention: Snug as a Bug in a Rug
This game is one of the absolute best games to play with young players. There are 3 levels of play, and it grows with your kids. There’s a party on the rug, and all the little colored bugs want to hide under the rug before the 3 stink bugs come and stink up the party. This game teaches dice rolling, spinner use, taking turns, teamwork, and matching! Each bug has a certain color, shape, and number of shapes, as well as large or small eyes. At the first level of play, you roll the die and use what it lands on to find the bugs you’re hiding (color, shape, number). You spin the spinner to find the exact match you need. If you have run out of bugs to match, oh no! The first stink bug shows up. Now, you need to match eye size. This game is fun no matter how old your kids are (Meepleine bought it for her 3 year old, but her 10 year old likes it, too) and is by that most amazing of companies mentioned earlier, Peaceable Kingdom.
Game for kids 6+: King of Tokyo
This game is fun for the whole family. Everyone is a Kaiju trying to take over Tokyo. The Kaijus fight each other and try to get enough victory points to win. The first kaiju to 20 experience points or the last Kaiju standing is the winner. Expansion packs for this game includes a special Halloween version with their version of Jack Skellington and Oogie Boogie. We will have this expansion and the Cthulhu and Kong expansion at the next ELS Game Day.
The next ELS Game Day is happening at Comicazi on Saturday, May 12, 2018 from 12-6 for an ELS Game Day filled with fun games to play with your family. If you need a last minute gift for the mom in your life – we can also give some great suggestions. We hope to see you there!
Well that is it for us this month. Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there!
Until next time, may all your hits be crits!
This winter the other Ladies and I took a huge step and started our very own monthly game of Dungeons and Dragons. For quite some time, I personally had been avoiding tabletop RPGs for a couple of reasons. The most pressing of those reasons being that I was nervous about playing as a newbie. I was concerned that playing would feel like a struggle as I attempted to juggle both the mechanics of the gameplay with actual improvisation and role-playing. It felt like too much at once and that I was going to be a burden to the DM and other players.
The game they play is Pathfinder – a modified and enhanced version of the 3.5 edition of Dungeons and Dragons. There are four ladies in the group (just like this blog!) and they chat together like they’ve been friends forever. While two of them have, and each lady knew at least one other before joining the group, some of them had never met before a few months ago when they started playing together.
There’s Sam, who introduced me to the group, and who in many ways is the lynchpin of the entire enterprise. While the idea for an all-lady game had floated about for a while, it was Sam who got the ball rolling and made the idea a reality. It is her fiancé, Jay, who is the gamemaster (GM) for the group. Her character in the game is a half-elf ranger with a longbow specialty and an abiding hatred of the undead. She also wields a mean war-hammer.
Then there’s Caitlin, an avid gamer. Prior to joining the team her medium was video games, from first person shooters to role-playing games. The party gives her another way to engage in the latter, and she recently purchased her own set of dice due to continually bad rolls. She may or may not have been influenced to get into tabletop gaming by a certain episode of Community. Caitlin’s character is also a half-elf, a rogue who wields two swords at once.
Next to her sits Bethany, who introduced her to the group. A former roommate to Jay, she’d been interested in table top gaming for years, but hadn’t had a good entry point until now. She’s clearly a Doctor Who fan , as she literally wears, rather than her heart on her sleeve, a tattoo over her heart reading “allons-y.” (I have a fondness for this sort of subtle yet right out in the open sort of declaration.) She plays a human cleric, in part because she wanted a character who uses magic without being a wizard, and her character has a horse named Bill, who comes in handy in transporting the party’s gear. Both cleric and horse are a bit fussy about who they choose to befriend.
Bridget sits across from Bethany. Friends with Sam since high school, she’s always like fantasy fiction and the like but is a self-described “closeted geek” – she seems to have the most separation between her groups of friends in real life. In the game she plays a Halfling bard, apparently much to the chagrin of the GM – Bridget had excellent dice rolls and he was concerned she was “wasting” them on a non-combative character. However, Bridget felt she could “get into being little.” Rather than a great fighter, her character is incredibly persuasive thanks to a hefty charisma score, and has come to be seen as the comic relief of the party.
The group has been together for about three months, and they’ve played about two full games together – they admit that it can take a while to get started on an adventure because they’re all very detail-oriented, spend quite a bit of time on things like like selecting supplies – debating the need for tampons, for example, since their in-game party is also all female, or making sure they have enough food for Bridget’s Halfling’s prodigious appetite. I get the sense that this is the root of the appeal of adventure gaming for the ladies – not tampons and food, but the ability to completely customize their experiences, to have a game and indeed a world that belongs wholly to you and your friends.
Caitlin points out that, in most games, the choices you make can shut off entire story lines to you – for example, if you decide to be amoral or immoral in a video game, you become ineligible for certain bonuses or plot lines. In Pathfinder, the group has control over what direction the story takes, rather than a programmer, and they can decide that rewards are not merely for the virtuous.
The other women in the group also appreciate the creative outlet. Though it can be difficult to schedule the time to play in person (each session takes several hours), the four regularly exchange emails about decisions they’ll need to make the next time they play, attributes of characters they might create for future games, and in-jokes related to their experiences. Bethany has even designed a logo for the group:
I asked what their friends not in the group thought about the game and them playing it. All four ladies had been quick to point out that people don’t really understand what table top gaming actually IS. Since people’s perceptions of it are largely influenced by what they see in movies and TV, the image in people’s minds when you say “Dungeons and Dragons” or “role playing” tends to be awkward teenage boys in a basement, wearing capes and getting into arguments over hit points. Or they confuse it with Live Action Role Play (LARP) – asking if they’re going out to the woods with foam swords. So there’s an element of simply explaining what they do when they get together, which at its heart is collaborative storytelling. That said, most of the ladies said their friends were unsurprised to learn that this was something they were into – they almost all hear some variation of “oh, you didn’t play already?” Only Bridget, in her “closeted geek” stance, said that she doesn’t tell all of her friends about the game – but those she has told seem interested.
One of the main reasons I was interested in talking to the ladies was the fact that, apart from the GM, they ARE all women – are there any advantages to that? Sam mentioned that she plays in another group as well, a co-ed group, and she’s noticed that the No. 1 Ladies Adventure Party is more collaborative – they will go out of their way to help the other members out of a jam in-story, while the co-ed group is much more every man for himself. Bridget points out that the all-female group eliminates the fear of being called out as a “fake geek girl,” for not being as hard-core a fan as some men. It’s a safe space to explore the game and wear your fandom on your sleeve – something I think is really important if we’re going to break down these ridiculous, false gender barriers.
I don’t personally play role-playing games, but talking to these ladies made me see the appeal – it’s a chance to be creative, spend time with friends, and even test your personal boundaries at times. The four women of the No. 1 Ladies Adventure Party are smart, creative and funny – this article really doesn’t do justice to our conversation – my secret wish is that they start a podcast or vlog (possibly with our ladies – think about it!). Thank you for sharing what you love with me, gals!
The No. 1 Ladies Adventure Party would like you to know that they are searching for a fifth lady – specifically, they’re in need of a bad-ass fighter! If you think you’ve got what it takes to join this merry band, leave a comment below or on the Ladies of Comicazi FB page – I’ll make the connections.
Also, if YOU know a lady or group of ladies doing something cool, or if you ARE a lady of that description – let us know! We’d love to chat with you.