Tuesday, March 30, 2010

General Conference Activities for Kids

The church has put together a website (here) specifically aimed at providing games and activities for kids that help them keep focused/pay attention more during conference addresses. It looks fantastic!!

The primary general president, Sister Cheryl Lant, said, "Our goal is to teach children the gospel and to engage them in that process so that they really are interested and involved in learning and doing things." (taken from Church News article here)

There are a lot of different activities and games available on the site. For example, there are online matching games, there are coloring pages, and there is a notebook wherein kids can take notes and/or draw pictures about what they hear in the talks given.

All in all, I would say that this is a great resource for families. I can say that my wife and I have had a hard time trying to help our kids pay attention to what is being said. This is a welcomed help in that effort.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Teaching Kids to Play Games

3:13 PM by Mike · 0 comments
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I recently read an article from the Board Game News website (here). In it, Dale Yu talked about specific guidelines he follows when teaching his kids how to play games. I thought it was a great post, so I am adding my own ramblings to the guidelines he presents.

First, the 5 guidelines (from his post) that he presents:
1. Only teach the kids a game that they want to learn
2. Start with the basics
3. It's OK not to teach them everything at once!
4. Try to shorten the initial games to keep their interest high
5. Finally move onto the full game as they master the smaller parts

Now, my ramblings about each guideline:
1. Only teach the kids a game that they want to learn
I totally agree here. If a child is not interested in a game (or anything for that matter), it will be very difficult to teach them about it. This applies just as well to subjects in school. Our kids just naturally want to learn, but there are certain times when some things are more interesting to them than others. When they are interested in something, that is the time to help them learn about it.

I like how Dale Yu says that he'll just leave some games laying around so that his kids will "run into them." And how they usually are more interested in his games than the games that have been given to them. I find this with my kids as well. Of course, they have times when they want to play their games, but usually it's my games they are more interested in pulling out. These times make for the best opportunity to help them learn the game.

2. Start with the basics
This is good advice. I mean, if you want the kids to stay interested in the game, you've got to make sure to not overload them. Just help them understand the basics that will let them start playing them game. Then you can go along adding things in as needed. Perhaps you'll need to play 3 or 4 times before you've covered everything, but the kids will probably stay motivated to learn.

I've found, with my own kids anyway, that I also need to just let them go sometimes. There are times that they don't really want to learn to play the game. They would prefer instead to just play with the pieces and make things up as they go along. This for me is fantastic!! As I enjoy designing games, I think this gives them an opportunity to use their creativity and design games as well. In this case they are restricted by the pieces that come with the game, but many times they'll bring in other toys or things that are laying around at the time and incorporate them into the game as well. It's great to watch!!

3. It's OK not to teach them everything at once!
For the most part, I think this guideline fits right up there with number 2. Just introduce them to new aspects of the game as you go, as you feel they are ready to learn them.

4. Try to shorten the initial games to keep their interest high
This totally makes sense. Kids have shorter attention spans than us older kids. So, it's important to take that into consideration. I mean, that's probably one of the reasons for shorter kids games. How often have you seen a kids game that lasts an hour!!!? I think you can kind of gauge this as you are playing with your kids. If they are totally into the game, then let them continue. If you see that they won't be able to stick with it as long, well then, do things that will help reduce the time of gameplay, just like Dale Yu suggests with Dominion.

5. Finally move onto the full game as they master the smaller parts
Like I said above, just add a little here and there. Eventually you'll get the full game in and the kids, by then, will understand how to play and will be able to keep learning new aspects.

One game that my kids really like to get out is Heroscape (here). I'm guessing it's because of all the miniatures in the game. Plus, the terrain is customizable. You can interlock pieces, stack pieces, etc. It's great fun! Usually they just end up building their own thing, playing their own thing. We have played the basic rules a few times. And for the most part they follow along and it goes well.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Mike: "Builder of Ships"

3:33 PM by Mike · 1 comments
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So, I've gotten word that at some point this week all copies of Hagoth that are being produced will be "in the water," on the ship bound for Clearfield, Mayday games. This means that within 30 days or so Hagoth: Builder of Ships should be available for purchase and officially shed it's "pre-order" status that it's had for the last several months!!! I can't wait!

Also, if you happen to be attending GAMA this week in Las Vegas, then check out the Mayday Games booth and you'll get a look at the finished product. Seth said that 5 copies will be air freighted to GAMA!! That is very exciting as well!

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Cache Valley Board Game Gathering

2:23 PM by Mike · 0 comments
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The board game gathering is in full swing for March here in Logan. We'll be meeting on the 20th (Saturday) from 10 am to 6 pm (or thereabouts). This time it will be held in a building across the street from Phoenix Games (it's on Center Street). Paul, from Phoenix Games has starting taking an active role in helping Jason find a place to hold it and also in the "marketing" side of things, trying to spread the word as it were.

So, if you are in the neighborhood on Saturday, come find us and play some games!!
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Book of Mormon Golf

9:53 AM by Mike · 0 comments
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Have you ever wanted to somehow connect the game of golf with the Book of Mormon (I had such an inkling once)? Well, it's been done!!! You can now play Book of Mormon Golf (more info here) on your iPhone or iPod Touch for FREE!

Game play goes as follows: you are presented with a verse from the Book of Mormon (without the reference). It is your job to first choose the correct book from which the verse comes. After that you need to select the correct chapter of that book. Each guess you make counts as 1 "stroke" and, as in golf, the more strokes you have the worse your score becomes.

Up to 4 people can play together, through a maximum of 9 "holes." It turns out that it isn't as easy as it may sound. It's hard to place some verses that come up into a specific book of the Book of Mormon, but then to have to know which chapter they come from as well, that's hard sometimes.

And, if Book of Mormon Golf isn't hard enough for you, you can try your hand at Scripture Golf which includes verses from all of the scriptures! Enjoy that one!

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Mormon Games: Re-themes of Previously Published Games

This is an interesting point of designing and publishing games that I wanted to share. In 2003 Covenant Communications published a game entitled: Search, Ponder, and Play! (here) The person who submitted the design to Covenant Communications claimed it as being their own design or just didn't say that it was a re-theme of another game that had already been published: Aquarius (here). Aquarius is a game designed and published by Andrew Looney of Looney Labs in 1998. Search, Ponder, and Play! is a game that just put different images and themes on the cards and theme of Aquarius. Here is an image of the cards from each game side-by-side:


The game was brought to the attention of Andrew Looney in 2004, where upon he posted about it (read the whole thing here). His wife decided to write Covenant Communications a letter. Andrew Looney was, understandably, quite upset that such a thing had happened. As was his wife. In the end it appears that everything came out fairly well, as well as could probably be expected. Covenant Communications ended up producing a second version of the game in which they credit Looney Labs and state that permission has been gained to publish this version of the game. It's interesting to me that in all the designing and publishing that goes on that this kind of thing hasn't happened more.

Also, I wonder what kind of impact, if any at all, this sort of thing has on people's perception of LDS/Mormon themed games. A lot of my experience has been that LDS themed games are re-makes of previously published games. I think that this is probably a safe move by publishers. I mean, if a previously published game is successful, then re-doing it as an LDS themed game is more likely to be successful too. I don't know that this is the case or the reason behind this, but it seems logical. Designing games is also a very time consuming process. You have to design, play-test, tweak, play-test, revise, play-test, etc, etc, etc. But when a game is simply re-themed, there isn't much besides new artwork and a little thought that goes into the components that is needed.

Is there a market for new games in the LDS market? What do you think?

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Monday, March 1, 2010

SaltCon

9:08 AM by Mike · 0 comments
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So, SaltCon has come and gone and I was unable to make the trip down to Salt Lake City! But, the Salt Lake Tribune did a story on it (here).

I've also seen a few pictures and read a couple of things that friends had to say about it that actually supported it and went on Saturday and/or Sunday. And it sounds like it was a lot of fun! I'm glad that they put it on and I hope that we'll continue to see gaming conventions twice a year in here in Utah.

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