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Adults in Children's Games

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FrankM
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I just read through this article on the Wall Street Journal

Why Do Parents Cheat at Family Board Games? To Lose as Fast as Possible

and it occurred to me that the games getting the most hate - Candyland and Chutes & Ladders - were the ones with no real decisionmaking by players.

(It doesn't help that they don't seem to have read the instructions for Candyland. The option to draw two cards and pick which to use fixes almost all of the problems these parents experienced.)

For newer games, does everyone think it sufficient to give players a meaningful decision each turn so that parents have the opportunity to Not Win at will?

Personally, I would much rather give my kids help in making decisions in something like checkers or Trouble where there is (usually) more than one option each turn. Making the occasional non-optimal decision for my side is all the "cheating' I'd ever consider.

So, from a design perspective, does this indicate that there's actually a value to allowing boneheaded decisions? My concern here is Hypercompetitive Older Sibling convincing Naive Younger Sibling to do something stupid.

ddiaz28
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I read this article as well.

I read this article as well. I don't think the writer did very much digging into the hobby since they go ahead and credit the upswing in board game sales in the past 2 years solely to the fact that parents want to get their kids off screen. They completely miss the fact that it's more likely due to hobby games better than any of the games they mention have taken off in popularity. I get what they were trying to say but not the way they presented it. So parents want to play games with their kids, but don't really want to spend a lot of time doing it so they should cheat to end long games? So dumb. The conclusion should be to just play better kids' games with them of which there are many. My 4 year old boy is loving playing the new games I've been getting him, My First Stone Age, Ticket to Ride First Journey, Blokus, and Rhino Hero to name a few. And I love playing them with him. I understand wanting to end a game you don't like quickly, but even when my son picks Mouse Trap, I still play it to the end with him. As long as he's having fun, so am I.

And to your point about boneheaded decisions, I definitely give my kids advice before they make a play once in a while. But more often than not I will let them make a sub optimal move and then explain how they could have done better after. I figure that's how they will learn to carefully consider decisions.

questccg
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Just another quick comment

I didn't read the article yet (but will after this post).

BUT I can say with "TradeWorlds" when kids play each other, they often use a suboptimal Action (from the Role Selection) based on the "roles they like". Father Geek observed that fact... The cool thing is that while the kids are doing their own thing, they still "enjoy" playing the game together.

Now while I understand younger players making suboptimal decisions, as a parent playing "against" your kids, you might also want to go "easy on them" until they become more familiar with the various Actions and are better at gauging what is the better strategy to use on his/her turn...

I really doubt that a Parent will "take pleasure" from beating his/her own children...? Where is the sense in that?? Kids like games where they WIN. Play a game against them and beat them too many times, they will be like: "Oh that's Dad's game... We don't like it because he wins all the time..." Or something similar to that.

Of course with our game, it is very POSSIBLE to go easy on the opponents by not engaging in too much conflict (like a light Euro). But I learned that the "conflict" was very much part of the excitement for the younger players... So you got to balance being a Dad/Mom and making the right decisions.

Anyway my goal with this comment is to say that Dads/Moms may enjoy playing a game with their kids even if they don't make the most optimal decision every turn.

Cheers!

questccg
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The goal is to have FUN.

FrankM wrote:
...and it occurred to me that the games getting the most hate - Candyland and Chutes & Ladders - were the ones with no real decisionmaking by players.

Indeed could this be asymptomatic of "boring" games with no "excitement" for Parents to play??? Thinking ahead and being one step before your opponent is another valid "play strategy" for Parents.

Basically the idea is that you TRY to "out-think" your kids by predicting what they will do next.

To do this, you need a game with deep strategy and less luck. Obviously Candyland and Snakes & Ladders offer no real strategy except lucky dice rolling. So I think it's up to PARENTS to figure out which games they might enjoy playing with their children and also walk the tight watch of being a parent and having FUN with your kids too!

questccg
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I'm not exactly certain ... but

Could it simply be the poor selection of games??? Could the classic Roll & Move be not sufficiently engaging. Maybe if Parents chose "gateway" games designed for older players where kids can be COACHED or play in teams with Mom/Me versus Dad/Sister and then teams can strategize and see what they want to do next (as a team).

(Again I'm not plugging my game — it's because we wanted broader appeal)...

In TradeWorlds we opted this previous KS campaign to include a CO-OPERATIVE scenario rather than a TEAM-oriented scenario. Which is fine, perhaps a bit tougher for the kids playing at the table. But maybe it's the better choice in terms of "learning the game"...

We still hope to include a TEAM-oriented scenario in the future... but as of the moment we don't have an "explicit" scenario. Sure you can decide to play teams — but the rules are not 100% in place for playing without an explicit scenario.

What this basically means is that I KNOW how to make the game TEAM-oriented ... but buyers of the game will not (because we have not defined a scenario for this style of play — Yet!)

FrankM
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Not Even!

It's not even a poor selection of games... it's a poor selection of games compounded by not even bothering to read the instructions.

The conventional wisdom (conventional ignorance?) is that games with fewer mechanics are better for little kids. This is true only up to a point.

Candyland is great for teaching kids to take turns. And then it goes on the shelf to collect dust.

Though I'm open to suggestions, my current go-to classic game for my 4- and 6-year-olds is Trouble. Generally, your decision each turn is to choose which man to apply your dice-roll. For the younger one, we can test out each possibility and let him pick. For the older one, it's just reminding him about 6s.

I also play chess with the older one. I don't really see breaking out anything euro-complicated until the younger one can play.

But coming back to the design issues... my impulse would be to prune out any obviously stupid choices from a player's option set. But for a game that could potentially involve kids, maybe that's not the best path.

questccg
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We want REAL CANDY!!!

FrankM wrote:
It's not even a poor selection of games... it's a poor selection of games compounded by not even bothering to read the instructions.

The conventional wisdom (conventional ignorance?) is that games with fewer mechanics are better for little kids. This is true only up to a point.

Candyland is great for teaching kids to take turns. And then it goes on the shelf to collect dust...

Hmm... Maybe if "someone" designed a game called "Candyland" that was ACTUALLY about EATING CANDY!!! It could be Roll & Move... but it could also appeal to children's sweet tooth! LOL Like picture some LEGACY-like game where you play ONCE and you get your fill of CANDY! Hahahaha!

Maybe it could be a SEASONAL game about all the holidays in a YEAR. Like Christmas is Candy Canes, Easter is Chocolate Bunnies, Halloween is Gum Drops, Another time of years it's Pez, etc.

NOW THAT could be worthwhile playing!!! Your kids would love you for introducing them to that GAME! And you could SELL a "refill kit" that would only include the "Candy" used in the game! Mouhahahaha!!!

let-off studios
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I Don't Care About Parents

I'm not a parent... I'm not even OBVIOUS! (HAHAHAHAH! I love that terrible pun)

Seriously though, I don't care about parents playing games I might design with their kids. I have a tough enough time coming up with something workable, let alone one that caters to the panoply of "parenting styles." There's also the fact that there are some absolutely terrible parents out there (hinted at in the article you shared...), and the idea that people will or will not read the instructions, will or will not follow the rules, when you're not around.

You indicate that even siblings playing together has its own share of dynamics beyond the game rules. Why attempt to cater to - or safeguard against - that, beyond effective game design? It seems much more trouble than it's worth, in my opinion.

The only way I can ensure that a game I've developed is actually played as intended is to facilitate it myself (like I do at my day job). Even then, I'm quite hands-off once the fundamentals seem to be understood.

That's where my sights are set. Once it's out of my hands, it's -all- out of my hands.

FrankM
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I think this was done

questccg wrote:
Hmm... Maybe if "someone" designed a game called "Candyland" that was ACTUALLY about EATING CANDY!!! It could be Roll & Move... but it could also appeal to children's sweet tooth! LOL Like picture some LEGACY-like game where you play ONCE and you get your fill of CANDY! Hahahaha!

Maybe it could be a SEASONAL game about all the holidays in a YEAR. Like Christmas is Candy Canes, Easter is Chocolate Bunnies, Halloween is Gum Drops, Another time of years it's Pez, etc.

NOW THAT could be worthwhile playing!!! Your kids would love you for introducing them to that GAME! And you could SELL a "refill kit" that would only include the "Candy" used in the game! Mouhahahaha!!!

It's called an Advent Calendar. The people who buy them do tend to but a new one each year, at least until the kids get bigger.

FrankM
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let-off studios wrote:The

let-off studios wrote:
The only way I can ensure that a game I've developed is actually played as intended is to facilitate it myself (like I do at my day job). Even then, I'm quite hands-off once the fundamentals seem to be understood.

That's where my sights are set. Once it's out of my hands, it's -all- out of my hands.

I was honestly shocked at the amount of effort these folks will go through to shorten the game... rather than get a different one. It was a use case I hadn't even considered, but in product design one is reminded that the maker is morally responsible not only for use-as-directed, but also use-according-to-affordance.

For example, there was a case where a toy company made a wimpy little tea party table for dolls. Someone thought one was a footstool, used it to reach a high shelf, and got hurt. Jury found the toy company liable due to the affordance (it looked like something you could step on).

When I became aware of this use case, I was just curious how people addressed it through design, if at all.

As an aside, you can maintain fairly tight control of gameplay, but only if it's mediated by a computer (or you go full video game). Even in that situation, there's a question of keeping the architecture open to modding.

let-off studios
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Instant Results

FrankM wrote:
I was honestly shocked at the amount of effort these folks will go through to shorten the game... rather than get a different one.
A feature of today's typical attention deficit is that you can sell games such as Pie Face. And the typical crowd thinks it's fun.

https://wiki.ezvid.com/best-pie-face-games

FrankM
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And now

let-off studios wrote:
FrankM wrote:
I was honestly shocked at the amount of effort these folks will go through to shorten the game... rather than get a different one.
A feature of today's typical attention deficit is that you can sell games such as Pie Face. And the typical crowd thinks it's fun.

https://wiki.ezvid.com/best-pie-face-games

And now I'm depressed thinking about humanity's future.

Jay103
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This is exactly what I’m

This is exactly what I’m trying to fix with MY game. Can’t believe they didn’t come interview me!

:p

questccg
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What future?!

FrankM wrote:
...And now I'm depressed thinking about humanity's future.

Yeah well we all know how SOME people try to design all kinds of CRAP for kids!!!

I'm glad my high-school years were filled with Foozeball, Mississippi, and TableTop Games (like Survive, Stratego, Milles Bornes, Connect 4, Chess, Checkers, Sorry!, Clue, etc.)

Maybe not the AMAZING and cool game we have today (like "TradeWorlds"!) but hey we still had FUN...

Now if schools INVESTED in a "Game Club" for some of the teens... Kids would have a blast playing all of the NEW "staples"...

But seriously, if people are into that kind of CRAP... IDK — Either!

Jay103
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questccg wrote:I'm glad my

questccg wrote:

I'm glad my high-school years were filled with Foozeball, Mississippi, and TableTop Games (like Survive, Stratego, Milles Bornes, Connect 4, Chess, Checkers, Sorry!, Clue, etc.)

Maybe not the AMAZING and cool game we have today (like "TradeWorlds"!) but hey we still had FUN...

Hmm, in high school I played a ton of Cosmic Encounter.. and some Call of C’thulu :)

Corsaire
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My family's games included

My family's games included Acquire, Feudal, cards, and games my dad made. When I got to college and joined the gaming club there, it was interesting that many of the board gamers had also grown up with Acquire in the house. Knowing the possibility of interesting decisions in games is big.

I think gamers in the know should make a point of buying quality games for friends and their kids.

My son started a gaming club in his middle school and local game stores have donated games as well as I let him have free rein on my game collection to bring.

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