With all of those bright and shiny, flashy digital-screened gaming devices out there, I often wonder how traditional board game companies compete. When was the last time that you actually sat down and played checkers or Life or Scrabble with your kids? I must admit that I’m one of those slacker dads who hasn’t done huge amounts of floor time playing cards or a board game with my kids.
There are a lot of challenges to this critical part of child rearing. For starters, you have to find time. As parents, we are pulled in so many directions that it is difficult to find any type of “down time” and if you do have an hour or two, does it correspond with the time when your kids are awake, or not doing homework, or off on a play date, or at school, or simply asleep? I don’t think my wife would be too happy if at 10pm I barged into my kids’ rooms screaming “WHO’S UP FOR A QUICK GAME OF CHESS?!!!” I would soon be banned from the house, chess board in hand.
So let’s say that you DO find time that works for you AND your kids, how do you decide WHAT you are going to do? Will all of the other distractions around your house, I would bet that playing a board game is not that high up on the priority list, but watch a movie or play a video game or “not now daddy, I’m busy” are higher up on the list.
Just try suggesting a board game. After you get through the arguments of which one to play, the wonderful eye-rolling by the older kids, finding a board game that isn’t “boring” or “lame” AND being sure that whatever board game you decide on doesn’t have missing pieces that were used as props in the last GI Joe® or Barbie® adventure that destroyed their rooms, you might actually get to start a pretty fun activity.
Again, I’m a bad daddy. When I find free time that matches with my kids’, a lot of times, we will doing something passive like watching a movie. If we want to get “active,” we play Wii or Xbox Kinect. If we are really inspired and weather permitting, we go for a walk. I know that levels of activity, indoor and out, vary from family to family (we are not as active of a family as we should be). But you have to make that effort at least once and a while.
I recently got my hands on Monopoly, which my kids’ grandparents as well as our family have played before. But this time, the game was different. It was the Electronic Banking version where paper money is eliminated and transactions are done via a hand-held “calculator” of sorts using “credit cards”. Times have changed with this version in that the playing pieces are modern (the old car becomes a race car and the old phone is now a cell phone, for example). Also, the value of properties and other financial transactions have been updated. When you pass Go, for example, you get $2,000,000 and not $200 (every time I walk down the street now, I keep hoping that at the corner I see that huge red GO sign on the ground and some old guy with a white mustache and top hat and he hands me $2M). A guy can dream right?
The Electronic Banking version is pretty slick. The game play is faster but the classic nature of the game is not lost. My 7 year old is actually beating me and my 10 year old, mainly because she owns houses on Boardwalk and Park Place (yeah, I do own hotels on Baltic Ave and Mediterranean Avenue so I’m not completely out of the game). But the important thing here is that my kids REALLY want to play it. We have carefully stashed our on-going game so that we can resume at a moment’s notice and the funny thing is, they would rather play it than watch TV or play a video game.
Chalk that one up as a success! So I dare say that board games are definitely NOT boring.
I want to share my experience with one lucky family out there. Over at my site, I’m actually giving away a copy of Monopoly with Electronic Banking…and to enter it’s super easy. Just leave a comment on this post as to why you think board games are important and then tweet out the message on that page. I will be selecting a winner next week.
Regardless of whether you enter or not, I’m curious, do you play board games with your children? What are the best ones and which ones should you avoid? What makes a good board game? Is it one that lasts a long time (like Monopoly) or one that is over in about 20 minutes? If you haven’t done some floor time with your kids recently, do it! I guarantee you will have an enriching time and it will be one of those things that they will remember in the future.