I am a board gamer and I hope, nay pray, that my kid turns out to love board games. There are no guarantees though. You can stock up your closet with HABA games or every Kinder Spiele nominees since 1980 and there is still no guarantee they will grow up to embrace your passion for games. I wonder, then, how do make sure they are hooked for life. Below, I propose a combination of gentle and drastic measures to ensure that your kid remains tethered to the game table…..for life!
Decorate the baby’s room
Starting from post-natal day 1, you should build a customized crib for the baby. Environment is everything! Instead of spending money on a custom-designed gaming table, invest in the young. Pay a carpenter to build a crib in the shape of a dice tower tray and load it up with plush dice. Print pajamas with images downloaded from BGG. Decorate the room with lots of board game paraphernalia or better yet, store your 374 board games (plus expansions) in the baby’s room. Finally, make sure your baby is exposed and accustomed to the board gaming sounds of dice rolling, moaning of the vanquished and full-throated gloating from the victors. Believe me, it will come in useful.
Get only board games as gifts for all occasions
Doesn’t really matter if it is Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Easter, Birthdays…. Just buy board games as gifts for all occasions. Don’t buy clothes, shoes, books. Just buy board games. Start early and start young. As an added bonus: You never had to worry about messing up the wrapping because they are never odd-shaped. Begin with My First Orchard from HABA and go from there. Don’t be tempted by jigsaw puzzles or building blocks. Those are solo activities that will do the kid no good. Instead, try Animal upon Animal and any other title that is on sale from Miniature Market for $2. Better yet, trade with other gamers and you get their HABA and they get your HABA. Used gifts make good gifts. Your kid will thank you later.
Use board games as a carrot….. and also a stick
When kids do well and behave, reward them with a game of Sleeping Queens or promise them a glorious afternoon filled with cardboard bits and plastic. Candy, sweets, chocolate or ice cream are awful choices and you know why. Instead, show them why HABA=love. Do it young enough and you will have trained them to love the linen card stock and wooden bits as treats. Similarly if kids are naughty or misbehave, threaten them with the removal of their favorite game. But more importantly, also make them play silent Uno. Don’t make them sit in the corner or do time outs. Have them arrange your closet and alphabetize your games. Even in their state of anger, board games can become their source of zen.
Tie their allowance (or inheritance) to gaming sessions
To encourage family game nights, institute a pay-per-play policy. Give weekly allowance based on number of games logged. Incentivize or punish accordingly based on your preference. For example, give a bonus if they play games you enjoy and reduce their allowance if they are sore losers. Ultimately, you can find a longer-term solution if you tie inheritance money to gaming output. Who says money can’t solve your gaming problems?
Thinks Cons and not Camps
Summer camps aren’t particularly productive and can be costly. Computer camps are still largely for nerds and geeks. Instead, send your kids to conventions. Buy a ticket to GenCon or ConCon. Splurge on BGGCon or DiceTowerCon. Better yet, go on the BGG cruise. The money will be well-spent as your kids will play with rondels instead of frisbees, collect sets instead merit badges and learn to draft instead of drink. The benefits are just way too many to list.
If all else fail, reboot and try again
No one is perfect. Just have another baby and try not to make the same mistakes.