As many gamers can attest to, finding the time to play all the games you want to can be difficult. This is especially true of those gamers, like myself, who are parents. This isn’t to say that gamers without kids aren’t busy but their schedule is usually more flexible and has less moving parts and dependencies.
Gaming as a parent has phases, each with pros and cons. When your kids are infants and toddlers you can usually work an evening around the kids. These young children are usually early to bed so you can have people over early evening to get a game in but you probably are playing to late into the night as you will have an early wake up call, and maybe a few in the night. As the kids get older your evenings get busy! Homework, soccer, hockey, piano, more homework…This is the phase I am currently in. I have a teenager and a set of twins in the second grade. Our evenings are packed but I have found a few things that have really worked well for this gaming family.
First of all I am lucky to have a spouse that is supportive and helps me schedule game nights with people either in our home or out and about. Unfortunately even with a spouse that wants to help you get to games groups it won’t always happen this is where I got lucky once again. She is an excellent game partner. This took some work to really fine tune. When I first got into serious hobby boardgames she was happy to play the gateway games and some of the deeper titles but as I dig in and started getting into really meaty, long games I lost her. This was OK, I had my heavy gaming group to scratch that itch, but I really like gaming with my spouse and I had to find a way to make that happen. The real breakthrough in our couples gaming was Patchwork. It didn’t have a dry cold war theme, it wasn’t in your face conflict, but it still gave us to sink our teeth into and develop some strategies. We started playing regularly in the evenings rather than sitting in front of the TV. It has quickly became our thing, we’ve added some games to the regular rotation like Lotus, Castles of Burgundy, Agricola and others. These gaming sessions which started in order to supplement my game group has become my primary gaming and some of the most satisfying as it is also great time spent with my favourite person.
The second big change was that the kids are now old enough to play interesting games. As young children we played all the usual suspects, Candy Land, Guess Who, The Game of Life etc… All of which teach kids the very basics of winning losing, reading a board, rolling dice but are not a whole lot of fun for the adults involved. The first game that started our transition was Carcassonne but the real breakthrough was King of Tokyo. When King of Tokyo entered our lives everyone one fell in love with it and my family of 5 spent many hours chucking dice and pitting our monsters (I’m always Cyberbunny) against each other. We have since added many games that all the family loves but our well used copy of King of Tokyo has a special place in my heart.
My oldest son is transitioning into his teens so is spending less time playing with his parents but when he does I can really get into some bigger games. His first love was Summoner Wars, we play that a lot! I still remember when the tables turned and he started consistently beating me at it. Recently, We had a game night with one of his friends not long ago where we go Mechs vs Minions to the table and we flew through the first four missions laughing and trash talking all night long. His latest acquisition is Cry Havoc which I got him as I thought it would appeal to his video gamer side. It’s science fiction theme as well as the constant and direct conflict was a big hit.
We don’t set a specific game night, we don’t force anyone to play but there is lots of gaming happening in my house. It always makes me smile when of the kids says “I’m bored” and the solution is usually a board game. I’ve tried very hard to make our love of gaming grow organically. I make an effort to see what games work so I can have a good idea of what new games to introduce. So if I have any advice to someone that wants to get in lots of games is to introduce the people you spend the most time with to games. Another key is to let it happen naturally, pay attention to what the others like and don’t push. If you shove your hobby on people they’ll shove back, but if you make it inviting and enjoyable you are far more likely to get buy in. The single best advice though is go into it with the goal of spending great quality with your family with a perk of it being around a game board, make sure they know how special your time together is and it won’t make them feel like they are just there to enable your gaming.
If you have any questions about getting your family or spouse to play games leave a comment or send me a message and I will be more than willing to talk you through it and maybe guide you to games that may work.