Board games are a wonderful hobby for kids. No iffs buts or maybes. There are so many skills imparted from game mechanics, maths, accountancy, negotiation and more cooperation than a whole season of Sesame Street
My experience of gaming with kids comes from
A. Being a kid at one stage and having a great memory
B. Still Being a kid albeit a big kid
C. Gaming with my kids
D. Gaming with other kids (at knavekids etc)
E. Working as a teacher for five years
So turns out I may know a bit. Anyhoe on with the rant
Many years back I worked with teenagers who were early school leavers and young offenders. At the interview I was asked how I would maintain discipline with a group like this. My answer was I’d keep them interested so they wouldn’t get bored and I wouldn’t need discipline. It worked too.
I was always an avid gamer so I used games to engage them. Simulations to teach them. Completions to reward them. They were rarely bored and ALL of them were devious intelligent players.
Younger gamers will usually want to get to the good stuff quick so you’ve got to let them. Pick games that are simple and quick but with some skill. I can’t stress this enough. Predetermined random games like snakes and ladders just don’t work. They might as well not turn up for them. If you’re an older parent like me. It’s all well and grand that it was the height of entertainment when you were a kid. It’s not now. Move on. On Rail games you can play them as well with other players as you can without them and you’ve got no game levers to exploit to make the experience more fun
Prepare to lose
For anyone who’s ever role played and acted as the GM the key is to work with the players and make it an enjoyable experience. It’s not about beating your players. It’s about letting them have a fun experience. Let them win. Stack the deck in their favor. Make them work for it but don’t stick to the letter of the law with rules. Remember the objective. Get them hooked on games so they’ll look for games for birthdays and xmas you can benefit from that. Lure them in with easy wins. Judge it. Judge the age.
Short and simple
Make games age appropriate. Kids vary in ability. Don’t ignore any game you already own. Simplify the rules to accommodate younger players. I do it the whole time. Then add in more of the rules in second then third plays. You don’t introduce games to adult players with all the expansions the first time they play. Simplify and if all else fails make shit up. Kids don’t mind. It’s time with their parents where there’s no distractions.
Younger kids love coop. They don’t feel overpowered, they love having a parent or two working with them. They just want to be part of it. Avoid competition with younger kids. It’s too heartbreaking for them and while I’m on the subject lets talk about losing
The hardest thing for a child to do is loose a game. It’s heartbreaking both for you and the child. Tears, sobs, snots full meltdown. Kids need to learn to lose but not continuously. It kills them. It will come with age and you need to judge it. Cook the rules. Let them win more than they lose. Multiple kids? No problem let them all team up against the parent and win more than they lose.
Your kids will love you if you game with them. This is a special time. It’s something you enjoy they can experience as well. It’s your thing and you’re saying to them I want you to enjoy what I do as much as I do. Welcome to my world