Holidays 2016

Welcome to CthulhuMom Games – a blog about my experiences raising a child in a gamer family.

The holidays came, they celebrated, they ate, they played and they moved on. Or so it felt. Adult life kept getting in the way this year making the holidays feel a bit disjointed, but we still made time for fun. Which of course for us means game time!

We had several parties between Thanksgiving and New Year. All went well with many games played, and for us more than we have in parties past. Here’s why:

Age Five is Awesome!!!

So is having other kids Yog’s age at the party. The first party of the season was weekend of Thanksgiving. The other children had arrived at the gathering before us and were anxiously waiting our arrival. When we got there they greeted our entire family and then they disappeared with Yog. The only time we heard from any of them was when food or drink was desired. So my husband and I got to play two different games at the same time. Not that I dislike playing games with my husband, obviously, but we do have some differences in taste at times. Parties are where I get to scratch my itch for the lighter, party style games he hates and he finds the one or two other people to play the really complicated games I won’t touch.

As always we brought along some of Yog’s games in hopes that having other people her age to play with would encourage her to do so. Unfortunately she isn’t as excited about Ice Cool as she was when we first got it. We love playing it, but once we told her she had to play it as a game and not just as another toy house, she lost interest. I think the first time she played because it was unique and new. The second time was because we had let her practice free form with the penguin after the first game and she figured if she played the game she could “free play” afterwards. Which we did allow and would continue to allow. With a skill based game you need to practice to get good at it, however if you don’t ever follow the rules, it’s never a game. The third time we offered to play with her she said she would flick the penguin around, but not play the game. So I told her we weren’t going to play at all and to pick another activity. Lucky for me the other children that were at our holiday party love Ice Cool. It’s so much fun to watch their excitement over successfully getting their penguin to land where they planned. They did so well I taught them how to make the penguins jump walls when we were done playing.

This year for Christmas we didn’t buy Yog a game. Technically. Ok, we bought us a game and her a play set. Playmobil makes an awesome hockey rink toy that’s a playable game! I still haven’t read the rules or played it yet, but we plan to. At least my husband and I plan to. Yog plans on “playing hockey” on her own terms. Which is what we anticipated happening and therefore are fine with happening. We got her the rink, which came with two goalies and two players, a Referee and Linesman set that came with a Stanley Cup, and a ZAMBONI! Because ZAMBONI! That came with another figure, because we don’t have Google self-driving Zamboni machines yet. She loves playing hockey and I look forward to beating my husband on the ice.

playmobil-hockey
Playing hockey

Christmas wound up being a later night than originally planned. We started by playing Resistance, during which my husband learned where I inherited my devious streak as my mom completely fooled him into believing she was innocent. Unfortunately that same devious streak kept him from being able to tell if my sister or I were the other traitor…allowing my sister’s traitor husband to escape! This was followed up with my husband and family played Black Orchestra. I didn’t play as they had reached the maximum number of players. I figure that we own the game, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to play. Besides, I hadn’t had a chance to watch A Christmas Story yet and tradition is tradition. Luckily we had packed clothes and pajamas. So at the appointed time Yog was off to bed and we spent the night.

New Year’s Eve was similar to the Thanksgiving party in success. The big difference was that Yog had a little more time alone. We figured that would mean going back to tag team game play, but Yog had other plans. She found ways to entertain herself, sometimes telling me to “Go play a game”. She’s always been really good at self-entertaining (I’m never sure if this is because she’s an only child and had to learn this skill or it’s just part of who she is. Most likely it’s a bit of both.) As always I invited her to play with me, rolling dice or playing cards, but she turned me down. She’s still “not the kind of kid who plays games.”

New Years Day was traditional. For us. Pork pie, Mummers and Arkham Horror. At least Yog enjoyed the pork pie. She has lost interest in even helping to set up Arkham Horror, which is a shame because I got my husband some organizational tools that made the game take up a bit less space. She didn’t even watch the Mummers! If it’s not animated it’s not worth watching apparently. Instead there was a school-house and toy cars to use for story-telling. Just wait until I tell her she was a role player as a child! Mwa-ha-ha-ha!

Ok.

I know.

All children a role players.

Just let me pretend that she’s a little bit of a gamer, all right?

Did you get any new games for the kids this holiday season? Share your favorite discoveries in the comments.

Until next time – Happy Gaming!

Rough Month

Welcome to Cthulhumom Games – a blog about my experiences raising a child in a gamer family.

This month was a little harder to write. It took me a while to figure out why, but I eventually did (ummm…duh). And it wasn’t just one thing. The thing is I typically will write something when the idea strikes and as a result have a few posts ready to release at any time. I’ll pick the topic that feels right, clean it up and post it. So, why was it so hard to come up with a topic this month? I have two in the bank right now – one about going to parties and one on the age ranges for games. Now the second isn’t near ready to release – it needs a lot of research, so I’ll give myself a pass on not releasing that one. So why not release the post on going to parties? With summer arriving there will be many gatherings and I’m sure there are those who are curious how we manage a full day of gaming and partying.

The trouble was neither felt right for me at the moment. And I couldn’t figure out why. After thinking about it I realized that with the craziness of working seven days a week and trying to maintain our house there hasn’t been much gaming in my life. I think the only game we played was a version of Sentinels of the Multiverse on a tablet that we passed around. And that only happened because we had an early day back at the hotel after a faire day. In case you were not aware my husband and I are half of a Shakespearean parody troupe named The Mad Mechanicals. This is our busy season. So during the week I spend more time doing laundry and trying to keep the house in order. Which leaves little time for gaming.  No wait, I did make one “weekly” game night and we played – ummm…Sentinels of the Multiverse. So, not a lot of variety. I did get a game of Myth in (which happened after I started writing this post) and that was only because I had an unexpected day off of work due to Yog having an unexpected stomach bug. As you can see, for someone who usually plays two games a week, I have had a drastic drop off in play time. What games I have managed to play, save one, were a matter of happenstance.

Then there is the other issue. Since we both work full time, when Yog is awake and we’re home together, we try very hard to make that family time, doing activities together. However, Yog has declared that she does not like games. At all. As I have addressed before I knew this was a possibility. I don’t want her to be carbon copies of my husband and me, besides if she has her own interests it might help us discover new things. So it’s a good thing. But it does make it harder to play games when one member of the group you’re spending time with absolutely refuses to play a game. And as all parents know – pick your battles. It’s just not worth fighting over with her. However, once again, no games with the child means fewer topics. On the upside, I’ll get to focus on games for me. How my husband and I get to play is just as important in our lives, if not more important (for our sanity anyway).

Another time suck was that Yog also had her fifth birthday this month, and being the over achiever mommy that I am I spent a lot of time trying to make cakes (yes, cakes, one for

050314 School Bus Cake Side 1
Ok, not the cake from this year, but I redid this cake this year, by request.

the family party and one on her birthday – note I already admitted to being an over achiever), buy presents, and spending her birthday with her. While I loved every moment of it, that left less time for the needed chores, and no time for games. For her birthday my sister bought her a board game. Not just a board game, a Frozen themed board game. Like many children her age, she is a want to be Elsa. Also like many children her age, she needed to be taught how to say “thank you” even if you don’t like the gift. Instead she opened the gift and told my sister “I don’t like board games”. *sigh* We told her what the proper response was and she did thank her aunt. But stood by the “I don’t like board games” line. Adamantly. The way only a young child can. Sometimes you have to admire their tenacity.  The game is still in the shrink wrap, where it will remain until, well, I just don’t know.

What does any of this have to do with raising a child in a gamer family? Sometimes games take a back seat to the rest of life. And that’s ok. The game closet will be there patiently waiting for my return. And when I revisit I shall do so with a vengeance. In the meantime I guess I just needed to remind myself that a dry spell due to circumstances does not define me. I am no less of a gamer because I choose to get a few hours of sleep between busy days rather than squeezing one more activity into a day. As I say almost every month we have been very lucky to have supportive gamer friends, so it’s not often that we have trouble finding a way to game. I know a lot of you have run into issues with either not being able to find time or not having a group that understands the interruptions that will occur when a child is in the room. Let’s talk about them and find ways to make gaming happen for you, even if that is only once a month.

Until then – Happy Gaming!

Presents Under the Tree

Welcome to Cthulhu Mom Games – a blog about my experiences raising a gamer child.

During the December holidays when gifts are exchanged it’s inevitable that someone in my house receives a new game. As we are trying to build a collection of age appropriate games for Yog, it’s almost a given that one of her gifts will be one of these new games.

Ever since the birthday when I gifted Yog with Candy Land my husband has taken a more active role in researching games that are not only fun for Yog, but for the entire family. This year he found something we thought would be a winner – The Magic Labyrinth. The premise is simple – you’re trying to navigate a maze to get to symbols on the board to collect the token. However, you can’t see the maze as it’s under the board. There is a ball magnet attached to your pawn under the board and when you hit a labyrinth wall it knocks your ball loose at which point you return to your starting corner. The pawns are nice and chunky, making them great for little hands. However, you do need to be careful of wee ones who like to taste things – those ball magnets would be very easy to swallow. My husband gave me a summary of the game when he bought it and excitedly showed me the box when it arrived in the mail (our “local” game store didn’t have it and we didn’t have time to have it ordered in and then drive 45 minutes one way to pick it up). After looking at the box I was just as excited about this new game as he was and thought that we would have no problem getting Yog to play.

Silly me. I forgot. She’s four. She changes her mind more often rain drops fall during a monsoon. Despite the fact that we’ve had a few really good days where she not only played a game with us, but was the one to ask to play; and has, on occasion, played multiple games in an afternoon – we were very disappointed. She ripped open the wrapping paper, said thank you and set the box aside with the clothes. We weren’t too surprised as she didn’t know what was in the box other than “a game”. She can’t read yet, so she couldn’t share in the excitement of her parents quite yet. Besides, there were gifts that she did understand – like candy and head bands. We decided that we’d pack the game to bring to my parents later in the day.

Right. Christmas day with a four year old and we’re going to have time to play a game. Between eating, opening and playing with other presents and bed time, the shrink wrap remained firmly in place. Where it would remain until she could help open it. That’s one of our traditions – the owner of the game gets to open the box for the first time. We asked multiple times if she wanted to play. As always we got a polite “No, thank you, maybe later” or “Maybe tomorrow”. However, we had hopes for the next morning. We spent the night at my parent’s house, so we figured when the house was quieter they could talk her into trying her new game.

The next day dawned and not much had changed. However, I think she knew we weren’t going to leave her alone and the stalling tactic wasn’t working any longer. So she moved on to another. “You guys can play if you want to”. I asked if she wanted to play with us and she said no.

Eventually we sat her down and opened the box and my husband engaged her in punching out the pieces from the board. Telling her to punch the pieces out wasn’t the best choice – she proceeded to use her fist to try to knock out pieces about the size of the tip of an adult’s thumb. My husband course corrected and they got all of the pieces removed from the cardboard.

He then moved on to setting up the basic board. The instructions come with an easy layout for the maze. Since the game only comes with four pawns and there were five of us we played on three teams. My parents worked together because my mom said she’d get lost too often. Yog played on my team because I’m pretty sure she thought that’s how she was getting out of playing. My husband played on a team of one because of math.

Yog and I went first and she was happy rolling the die to determine how many spaces we could move. I started navigating the labyrinth and would ask her what direction we should go in when we didn’t know if there was a wall or not. She drew the next symbol out of the bag as we began to collect them. When we had a two symbol lead on the other players I relied more on her opinion as to which direction to head, even when I knew we would hit a wall. By the end of the game she was reattaching the magnetic marble to our pawn when it dropped. We even won the game, though I think there was a fair amount of luck involved – a lot of the symbols drawn wound up being very close to us, no matter where we were on the board.

So we finally got to play with my daughter’s new toy. And therein lays the point of this month’s post. This experience wasn’t completely about trying to get her to play a game. It was also about dealing with something I’m sure other parents have experienced – the disappointment of finding the “perfect gift”, the “perfect surprise”, something she’ll love, but never knew she wanted – only to be let down by said child’s total indifference. Sure, we tried to talk her into playing the game. But unlike attempts over the past few months we didn’t want her to play just for the joy or experience. We wanted her to play because we were curious about her new toy.
Now that we’ve gotten her to play we won’t feel as bad about playing without her. I’m curious to see how difficult we can make the game. And when Yog’s ready it will be in the game closet waiting for her to explore. And we’ll be ready to play too.
On the upside she was totally excited about the toy sewing machine we got her, so maybe we have a future in cosplay!
Until next month, happy gaming!

 

P.S. Here’s the link to the BoardGameGeek page on The Magic Labyrinth