Happy 3 – Kids

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In a continuation of our series on why we love gaming, I’m looking at gaming with your children.

Borys Zabinski is a gamer, blogger and manager of the kids corner at Knavecon and Knavekids.  He’s a regular gamer at our Thur night gaming sessions and can be relied upon to pull out some weird and often wonderful Polish boardgame we’ve never seen before with a name only he can pronounce.  He has a great knack for engaging younger gamers and I caught up with Borys and asked him a few questions on gaming from a family point of view

  1. Borys, what was gaming like for you as a kid?

Just to give a little background: as a kid I was living in communist Poland in little town – there were no boardgames in early 80’s apart from Ludo (which was and still is called ‘Chinese’) and one really big hit: it was Monopoly clone called Eurobusiness. If you ask any Polish person in age bracket 35-45 to name his/her first boardgame, probably 90% will tell you it was Eurobusiness ;).  In late 80’s few more boardgames were available with some Polish companies freely copying Western games like Talisman (called ‘Magic and Sword’) – nobody cared about copyrights those days. Some of those games were really big sellers with total prints of over 40 thousands per print! With limited access to computer games anything that had ‘game’ in title and looked like it was designed in (rotten) West was big hit and we played those games all the time. I am sure I have played Eurobusiness over 100 times…

  1. Did your family have an interest in gaming?

My parents have absolutely no interest in gaming at all 😉 Except for Eurobusiness (which I think they have played over 50 times). This in mind I have to say that I have found my father’s Snake and Ladders published before WW2 😉 (must still be somewhere in the attic in Poland). They would consider games as childish even these days.

  1. What benefits do you think gaming has for children?

I like to say educational but everything in life for kids is educational. Main benefit is entertainment and fun. I am all about having fun while playing games, other things like maths skills, reading skills, ability to think ahead etc. are there anyway and we all know about those ;). I am always trying to pass few interesting facts about game’s theme we play (be it videogames history if we play Boss Monster, geography and history facts if we play Tigris & Euphrates or who is Mi-go if we have a quick session of Eldritch Horror 😉 ).

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  1. What type of games do you think kids like?

Different kids like different games. I have three kids, each one different character. My two boys age 9 and 6 really like negative interaction and love to do bad things in games to their parents, problem is when they are a target. Daniel (9) really hates coop games, he likes to play and make decisions himself. Robert (6) is OK with coop and see no problem working together to win (and share a win!). Maja (4) hates any type of negative interaction in games or even any type of violence in games. Every family need to try few games and see what they like.

  1. What age do you think kids should start gaming at?

As early as possible. Give them games to play with components. Let them punch tokens when you have new game. Show them cards. Play simplified rules, even play full rules for round or two (I have tried Through the Ages with Daniel when he was 6). Do all of this and you will have 24/7 gaming partner in 10 to 15 years! (well, unless you introduce them to Minecraft…)

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  1. How do you deal with kids of different ages and abilities all playing the one game?

ou just need to find a game that will fit everyone (even adults). Game like this would be famous Turtles game. Of course sometimes this is not possible and I try to simplify rules to fit youngest but still keep it interesting for rest of the group. Other option is just play with youngest and let him/her move pieces or roll dice – for 3 or 4 year old that would still be great fun (at least for those 5-10 minutes 😉 )

  1. What is it you enjoy so much about gaming?

I love videogames (as any other gaming in general) but recently moved into boardgames ‘full time’. I love the real multiplayer aspect where you see all of the opponents, love those ‘in your face’ moments or back stabbing 😉 I like playing with kids as well but this is different as you need more patience, sometimes you need to let them win, sometimes it can be real pain in the ass (yes!) but in the end it’s very enjoyable experience (especially when you can see their progress).

  1. What would you recommend to a family who wanted to start gaming with their kids?

First of all I would recommend to attend Knavecon or Knavekids where you can check different games to see which one suits your kids gaming style. Cooperative games are also safe choice as you do not play against each other and allows younger kids to participate in play and share win – Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert are very good and easy to learn games with great theme. I like a little bit more of randomness while playing with kids as this will give them more chances to win – dice games like Zombie Dice are great example here and have proven to be perfect gateway games at previous Knavecons. If your kids love storytelling and have great imagination than Dixit or Story Cubes (there are many different versions) will be perfect – some of Dixit sessions with kids are amongst best we have ever played. Do you think your kids are more into maths, analysing, bluffing? Try some of Reiner Knizia designs, these might be out of theme and a little bit dry but I think some of his smaller games are amongst best kiddies games – Turtles (aka Ribbit), Bucket Brigade, Bee Alert and many more. Again, Knavecon and Knavekids are best places to go to check what your kids like or dislike, start easy with small and quick games and build you library introducing more complex games over a time.

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