Choosing the right game for your family can be daunting. There are a huge number of options across every genre imaginable, in outlets ranging from big box retail to a local game shop. Games aren’t generally cheap, so buying a bad one ends up being an expensive mistake. Parents also have to worry about how age appropriate or interesting a game may be for kids. We’ve made both good and bad calls over the years, so we hope you can learn from our experience. These five tips can help make the selection process for a game easier.
Tip #1: Find The Experts
If you like to shop local, track down the nearest game store and stop in for some assistance. Let them know you’re looking for an age-appropriate game for you and your kids to play together, and they’ll guide you to something good. In many cases the store will have copies of games you can play test (with or without your kids) to get a feel for what you’ll be buying. Also, if you can describe what content you feel is or is not appropriate for your family, it will make life easier for a person at the store to find a good match.
Tip #2: Age and Stage
Games have recommended ages on them, that don’t work quite like ratings on movies or television. Aside from safety issues with small components that cause certain games not to be recommended for kids under the age of 3, most age ratings hint at the complexity of a game. If you have a precocious 8 year-old that you think can handle the reading and follow the rules, you may jump right into a game rated for an older audience. In some cases, games will contain violent or suggestive content you might not feel is appropriate.
Tip #3: The Reading/Time Rule
One easy starting point for gauging a game’s fit is to determine how much reading is required and how much time it takes to play the game. You’ll have to infer the first from looking at the description, but the time to play is generally printed right on the box. A game with little or no reading requirement that takes less than 30 minutes to play could be a fit for even the youngest players.
Tip #4: Learning Games
Start with a new game by establishing that the first time through is a chance to learn. Especially in a competitive game, this takes some of the pressure away and establishes that you’ll be learning the rules together. For card games, hands that would normally be hidden are face up on the table, so you have the chance to help younger players with their strategy. It also helps for an adult to read the rules completely at least once prior to starting the first game.
Tip #4: Variations
Look for games that have variations for young players. In some cases these alternate rules are only available online, but many games will include ways to simplify play for kids or less experienced players. These are ideal scenarios since you can introduce the basic game mechanic to your kids and enjoy playing together, then gradually ramp up the difficulty and level of complexity.
Photo Credit: flickr | werewegian