Friday 16 December 2016

Gaming with Kids #3: Children in Adult Gaming Groups

Board game groups give an excellent opportunity to play new games, meet amazing people and have lovely relaxing evenings! You can play there all sort of games! From quite light and easy to more challenging brainers.

A while ago I started running a Board Game Group in Thornbury, England. It's definitely a group for adults, and most of the games we play are not suitable for children. Anyway, I started thinking about my kids! Is there a place for them in the adult tabletop gaming group and how they can benefit from it? And on the other hand how not to upset other people and make sure they can fully enjoy their time? I'm aware that children's level is lower than adults and playing with them can be annoying. How to balance that?

I still thought it's worth giving a try! I started taking my two oldest daughters (aged 7 and 9) to the meet-ups, and I am very encouraged with the results!

Here's how it worked for my girls. I divided the whole process into few phases. Please note that I described how the whole thing looks at the moment; however, I'm sure that my girls will improve in a few months' time!

Phase 1: Yay, I'm going out with Daddy today!

First couple meetings they were running around, hiding, playing with dolls and ponies, gaming on tablets, etc. They didn't think about board games, but they liked it because they could go out with daddy! They did enjoy their time there. When we offered them to play with us a simple game they didn't want to because they are quite shy!

But the most important thing is that they saw dad and other grown-ups playing board games. They realised that tabletop games are not only for children. If adults can enjoy them, that means they have to be fun! They can see board gaming as a way to spend free time with friends and family! And it's absolutely fine that they didn't even play a single game.

Phase 2: Would you like to join us?

After a month or so my daughters became familiar with other people and bored with running around. When we offered them to play with us, Magda (9) was happy to join the game, Wiktoria (7) would join from time to time. They started to play with us simple games like Night of the Grand Octopus, Boss Monster, Ave Caesar, Pitch Cars, Codenames, etc. I was very happy to see them playing!

Phase 3: Daddy, can I play with you?

After three months my little princesses started asking us if they can join even heavier games. I didn't allow them to play more complex games yet because I think it could be a bit too much for them at the moment. And too much to handle for the rest of the group!

I see a vast improvement in their attitude and gaming skills! I'm sure sooner or later they will start playing games like Stone Age at a competitive level!

Respect other board game participants

Most of the players are coming to play board games in a competitive manner! They are not there to look after kids. I know it might sound horrible, but I don't want to destroy the night! Little people will slow down and bring the game to the lower level.

So when I'm taking my children, I'm having that in mind.

What I think is alright and what's not:

- Make sure that all players are OK to play with a child. Be very sensitive about that! Even when they say it's alright, that don't have to necessary mean, that they are happy to play with children. Maybe they just want to be nice?

- Invite children to play fillers or very easy games where their decisions won't affect other players (like Splendor).

- Invite your kids to join more challenging games once they are familiar with the game or they are quite used to that kind of games.

- Do not make an adult to play only with children. I think in a group of 4 players one child is maximum. When there are more players, then it's OK to have more children at the table.

- Make sure you have some games or toys to keep kids busy when they can't play.

- Once your child is getting better, you don't have to worry about above. And you might be surprised how quickly they can learn!

Of course, these suggestions are for standard board game groups. If you got more children in your group, most of the issues are sorted out as they can play together!


What are your experiences with kids in adult board game groups? Do you take your little ones there?