Why We Should Play Games #2 Parents and Children

Games have the power to teach young children basic concepts, encourage time spent playing with their parents and fulfill a child’s need to master new skills. Children can play games that help them master skills like number, letter and color recognition.

Games provide a setting where parents and children and spend time together working towards a common goal. Games allow for a quick turn around on failure. Games provide a structure that allows for parents to guide their child through a task that has and end game in mind and can allow their child to feel accomplished when they reach a goal.

Games don’t have to be overly difficult to teach children the skills listed above. When parents are able to guide their children through a playing experience, both parent cna child go through a shared experience of not only learning the game but learning each other. Parents can look at this activity as a method to learn their child’s learning skills. Maybe their child learns better with words games or visual games. Games give parents a way to identify their child’s skills and being able to identify these skills can help a child exponentially over time.

Games are also great exposure for both parents and children to modern board game mechanics. If the parents are not hobby gamers, they have the opportunity to learn modern game mechanics along with their children. As both parents and child get used to mechanics, they can “graduate” to more complex mechanics if they want to further explore the world of modern designer board games.

Games ultimately, have the ability to strengthen the bond between parent and child. We will explore more benefits for parents and children in future posts. For now, these are some of the best “starter benefits” board games how to offer.

Do you have any experience playing games with your children? Are there any particular games that have worked better for you with interacting with your child or games that seemed to be more helpful for your child? Can you think of a game that you would suggest to a friend or family member to play with their child?

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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at c.renshall.tgik.games@gmail.com

Board Games Used For Education #2 Creative Writing

I never liked creative writing time in school because I could never visualize the worlds we were asked to create and write about. I never really got into reading until Harry Potter was made into a movie and I had visual aids to help me generate the images in my head. What I wonder is, what if you gave students the goal of generating stories and worlds that could give their classmates a game experience? What if creative writing time was an exercise in both creative thought and game generation?

I am not sure what grade level this would be applicable, but I like the idea of instructing students to write about a game experience they would want to have if they were playing a game. The idea would be to have students write short, two or three paragraph idea that would be about a game theme and the experience they would want their player to have.

Seed Idea: Everyone in the game is trying to build the best tree house in the neighborhood and there are several things everyone must overcome in order to build their tree houses.

Teachers could instruct the students to write about this idea and the limitation they might face. The students writing would have to think about all the things that could make building a tree house.(time, money, tools, skills) Teachers could even provide some extra help with idea offshoots. Maybe students could be reminded that they don’t need to limit their ideas to the trees and the realities we live. Tell the students to think of building a tree house on another planet or in another time period. The overall goal should be to keep the creative thought to creating world/game limitations and abilities so a game can be built around those parameters.

This creative writing can be brief and left for later when students can flesh out their ideas. I like the idea of students having to generate their own world limits and thinking about what it takes to overcome those limitations. This kind of thinking could have some real world applications depending on where in school students are and if they make the connection to the ideas they are working on and the real world situation they might apply to. I also like that for students like me, where generating my own world visual is difficult, with this style of creative writing, students only need to build limits and ways to work within those limits.

After this initial round of idea generation, students can flesh out the ideas with more parameter depth and/or theme. Getting students used to generating small limits will prime their brains to think about larger game ideas down the road.

If you have any ideas on how games can make great educational tools, please share them in the comments section or email us at c.renshall.tgik.games@gmail.com

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What Games Mean to Me #16 Games Give Me Hope

Games make me smile, games make me interact with people in new and interesting ways and games give me ways to spend time with people from all different walks of life. Games give me hope that people can come together and enjoy a shared experience.

These days, we are surrounded by all sorts of bad news. Granted, bad news sells and gets clicks, but I could do with some more good vibes in the world. We are also in an age where it is easy to be a troll due to the anonymity the internet provides.

My experience with games has given me hope that people can come together and smile. I don’t think that games can solve the worlds problems, but I think that games can bring people together. When people are brought together to share an experience, they can see that dissimilar people are not that bad. There are people with different kinds of humor and people that have different life experiences. Games are and can be a starting point for conversation and when people talk about games, they tend to listen better because what is at stake in a game is trivial compared to the rest of the world. But listening to another person share their strategies is a chance to learn a way to play that game better. I firmly believe that if people would listen to one another, there would be a little less fear of the unknown and a little more understanding.

Games give me hope because they can facilitate these conversations, the listening and the smiles and enjoyment that is playing games.

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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at c.renshall.tgik.games@gmail.com

How to Build a Game #56 Bring Your Own Style

Part of being a designer is being inspired by the games we play. I have met designers that feel discouraged because they play a game that really fits their designer mind and they don’t think they could design the game any better. I don’t think designers should worry about published games that are similar to the projects they are working on.

I think situations like this are an opportunity for designer to bring their own style to the party. I look at published games as a starting point for similar ideas and use them as guideposts for what works. I like to play the games that are similar to my ideas and figure out what works and what doesn’t work. I think about what I would change and I make mental notes of what I want to do with our game. I am not saying designers should look to make a second edition of the published game. Nor am I saying that designers should look to “fix” what they think is wrong with the published game. I still think designers should strive to be different enough with their projects.

What I am saying, is that designers should use the published game as inspiration and a guidepost to help them work through their own idea. This is an opportunity for designers to let their creativity shine.

Have you come across a game that was similar to a game you were working on? For us, it is Space Cadets. We had a rough idea to build a co-op space game and two months later, Space Cadets was released. We told each other, if we wanted to design a space co-op game, that is what we would want to design. Slowly we have been working on our own space co-op game and hope to make it a primary project soon.

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If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We are thinking about starting a regular Google hangout with other designers. We can try to design a game together, we can talk about designers we are working on, you can ask us questions. We can make it whatever we want. What we really want to do is get to know the people that are willing to read all the way to the bottom of our posts. Please contact Chris on Twitter or send him an email and if we are able to get a minimal amount of interest, we can work on putting something together.

Why We Should Play Games #1 Intro

Board games have a lot of secrets. I am not talking about the hidden tiles on the board. I am not talking about the unknown cards in other players hands. I am not talking about the monsters yet to be revealed.

I am talking about the the benefits board games have to offer.

Gamers already know the benefits that games have to offer. What I want to do with this new series is present the benefits of gaming as reasons for more people to get into games. While I spend most of my time focusing on board games, I don’t think the ideas in this series apply strictly to board games.

I was inspired to start this series because I run into the same thing when I tell people I design and make board games. They ask me if I make games like Monopoly and Scrabble. Sometimes I will get a person who will ask if I make games like Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity. Regardless of where the conversation goes from there, I have concluded that people who are not in the hobby have a frame of reference where games are just what they played as a kid or offer little more than a few laughs reading off funny combinations of cards. Most of the people I tell that I make game express an excitement at the idea of knowing someone who designs games, but the next problem comes when they see the games I design. People will make reference to their assumed complexity of the game or will make reference to not understanding the mechanics involved. There is a built in barrier to the games we make and love and this is what I want to change with this series.

But, I want to take a different angle.

Rather than try and explain the themes and mechanics of the games we love; I want to talk about the benefits board games have to offer.

I think the major block for getting new people into the games hobby is the lack of reference people have for modern game mechanics and themes. I think the task of learning rules while looking at a board full of pieces in a game where the theme is about farming can be too much for people to want to learn, especially when the alternative is look at a hand of funny cards and pick one.

In order to break through this wall, I want to tell people about the benefits of games. I want to tell people about the educational benefits of games, the social benefits of games and the medical benefits of games…no joke…medical benefits. I want to give people a different frame of reference in order to make games more approachable.

I want to give my gamer friends (that’s you!) something they can share with their non-gamer friends that will give them a reason to sit down to play a board game. If we can use an alternate reasons to get people to the table to play games with us, the barrier is low. People will be more receptive to the fun and interest that modern games have to offer. If  we can expand people gaming horizons a little bit at a time over the course of a lifetime, the benefit to them and to the hobby will grow exponentially.

I hope you are able to share this with your friends and use this series as a starting point to get more people to get into the hobby we know and love.

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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at c.renshall.tgik.games@gmail.com

Board Games Used For Education #1 Intro

I firmly believe that games (including board games, RPGs, video and others) could be the basis for a good education system. We recently wrote about why we like games as an educational tool and after the comments we heard from people we thought we would start a new series about our detailed ideas for what could be done with games in a school setting.

Let me place my disclaimer here. I am not an educator or a child development specialist. I realize there are details that would make some of our ideas very difficult to accomplish. So, if you want to tell me why my idea is crazy, please leave me a comment and I would be happy to make adjustments to our ideas to make them more realistic.

What I do want to do is get the ideas out in the world for people to think about, talk about, and possible take action. While I am not in a place to make direct changes to classrooms, maybe one of our readers is a teacher and they think one of our ideas, or an idea they get from reading our posts, is worth giving a shot in their classroom.

Both Aidan and I have a passion for the education system. We have spent a good amount of time thinking about ways to make a games based school a possibility. While I don’t think we will get to a point where we are running a school based on gaming systems, we will continue to think about the possibilities that games offer to students as another method to learn and reinforce the subjects taught in school.

If you have any ideas on how games can make great educational tools, please share them in the comments section or email us at c.renshall.tgik.games@gmail.com

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What Games Mean to Me #15 Make Me Think Bigger

The board game market is small, very small. I am well aware of this and yet I still want to try and make a career out of being a board game designer and publisher. What I concluded very early in this process was that I need to think bigger. I need to think of ways that can grow the hobby and bring in as many people as possible. I need to think of different games I can design for all kinds of potential fans. The ideas I get might be crazy and total garbage, but at least I am thinking big.

Before board games came along, I normally kept my scope of thought to my immediate sphere of influence, aka not very big.

The project that is building a board game company has forced me to think bigger and think about others that are currently outside my scope of influence. I now look at the outreach, marketing and advertising projects of other companies and organizations in a different way. There is a lot to learn from the ways other people and organizations reach out to new customers. I can’t look into the future and know what this change in the way I think means in the long run, but what I can tell you now is that I find myself more willing to take the time to hear more points of view when it comes to board games and other topics outside of board games.

I do this because I know that the games we make will need to appeal to a wider audience and their opinions matter. This ins’t just about making the games I want to make. This is about making games for the people that want games that don’t know they want games. Of course, I will still design games that I want to play and I will make games for the fully immersed hobby gamer, but there are a lot of people out there who have yet to be exposed to a game that is right for them and I need to think bigger in order to get the awesomeness that is board games to their table.

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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at c.renshall.tgik.games@gmail.com