The Busy Girl’s Guide to Family Gaming

Game night doesn’t have to end just because your household now includes a few smaller versions of yourself, or since your mother in law moved in for a little extra care. Finding a game that will satisfy everyone in the house just takes a little planning, and with a little luck you may not only gain a gaming partner, but create some fantastic memories as well.

1 – Ask around. There are myriad gaming, parenting, and caregiver groups at your fingertips online. Many of these people are in the exact same boat as you and will happily share game suggestions, websites, or tried and true strategies for success. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice!

2 – Look for age/ability appropriate games. Check out kid friendly game publishers like Haba and Kids Table Board Gaming. Companies like these frequently group games by age and/or list the skills need to play.
For Nonna Louisa, this might mean revisiting familiar classics like draughts or hearts. If she’s still playing her old favorites you’ll find introducing a new game quite easy if its already a familiar mechanic.

3 – Let the new player choose. Take your newest gamer with you to your FLGS and let them do the choosing! Since so many of us are initially drawn to a game based on art or theme, why not see what sparks their interest? If someone’s invested in it, they’re also far more likely to try out something that seems a little out of their depth initially (just ask the myriad birders that purchased and are playing Wingspan.)

4 – Invest in some player aids. Small fingers and older hands can sometimes use some help holding cards – invest in some card holders. Additionally, dice towers, cups, and boxes making rolling and containing dice easier

5 – Keep things short. Don’t wear out everyone’s patience – start small and build up. Maybe today fifteen mins is about as long as you can hold a short attention span can hold. Games with somewhat variable ends like Love Letter and Happy Salmon are great to play until your new gaming partner is getting tired.

6 – Teach thoroughly. Terms like tap, roll and keep, draft, or set collection may seem basic to you, but likely they’re entirely new to the person you’re teaching. Alleviate everyone’s frustration by taking the time to explain things clearly and thoroughly with each new game.

7 – Think about adjacency. Was Aunt Gina a mean chess player? Maybe she’ll enjoy other abstract strategy games. If your niece is proudly displaying her newfound color and shape knowledge, its likely the perfect time to bring Qwirkle to the table.

8 – HAVE FUN. Ultimately, the point is less about creating the perfect person to play Twilight Imperium with at 2 in the morning and more about having a great experience with a loved one. Keeping fun at the forefront will create positive experiences, and keep all the family coming back to the table.