Today our Director Clea, has dropped by to give us her top 5 games, that aren’t on anyone’s radar:
Some of our best moments in the shop are when we’re demonstrating a game and achieving real engagement with our young testers. The synapses are snapping, friendships are forged and the sound of laughter is in the air.
Games are different from toys. They offer a real opportunity for social engagement, coaching and building confidence. Yes, it does take some time out of a busy day, but the small investment reaps big rewards. One of my favourite ideas came from a customer who came in to the shop to find a game for her to play with her eight year old son. She wanted to spend 15/20 minutes every night on an activity that was just for the two of them. A special routine like the family friend I remember from my childhood that brought out the Backgammon Set after dinner, with every visit. Such a nice idea to do an evening event for a child that had grown out of a bedtime story.
Surprisingly, the games that are most successful for us are often “unsung heroes” that our customers have never seen before. From our experience, these games offer great play value and unplugged fun. They are easy to learn and engage both parent and child.
1. Monkey Around Game for 2 year olds:
What is it? A great first game for toddlers to introduce turns taking and following directions, with monkeys and a banana bean bag.
Why we love it? The play includes many developmental benefits but most of all, everyone will be giggling with this physical, co-operative game. You’ll want to have the camera ready to capture dancing, making faces and high stepping whilst balancing a banana.
2. Outfoxed! for 5 year olds and up:
What is it? A co-operative game where the players combine together to work out which fox has committed the crime of stealing the chicken pot pie. If the fox makes it across the board before you’ve solved the mystery, the team loses but if you manage to put together the clues to identify the culprit before he escapes, you all defeat the thief and win together.
Why we love it: It is so much fun to watch children putting the clues together and you can almost see their brain cogs working in the race to find the “baddie”. It is also a game that engenders older children helping the younger players which equals a more harmonious family experience for all.
3. Rat A Tat Cat for 6 year olds and up:
What is it? An addictive card game that involves memory, numbers and a poker style mechanism where the player that thinks they have the best hand, calls the end of the game.
Why we love it: This game gets more positive feedback than any other we have sold. It’s quick to play, travels well and everyone is happy to play it time and time again.
4. Travel Qwirkle for 6 year olds and up:
What is it? A tile game like Scrabble but patterns are using colours and shapes rather than words. The tactical maneuvering is in trying to maximise your own score without providing too much opportunity for your opponents.
Why we love it: This is a light travel edition of a great family game. We particularly like creating Qwirkle “teams” to play with larger groups, pairing younger and older players together to get the mental muscles working but it works well with just 2 players.
5. Mancala for 8 year olds and up:
What is it? A highly tactile game with glass stones and a board that engages with simple strategies and mathematical skills. The play has similar themes to backgammon but it is more colourful and easier to master.
Why we love it: Mancala is the epitome of our best products; relentlessly fun and deceptively didactic. Playing over time and against different opponents will develop new strategies and theories. As one of the oldest games in the world, there are several geographical rule variations to explore.
I was inspired to write this blog because when I’m searching for games, I too often get redirected back to the well known, mass market products. From my experience there are some fantastic niche games out there that will provide some magical moments. I hope you have some unique and great gaming in your future!
Want to play a game yourself? Check out our Games section for lots more family fun!