Operations Manager Cyra Valenzuela Benedict on Kid-Friendly Games (That Adults Will Like Too)
Hi there! Cyra here, Gen Con Operations Manager. School’s been closed for almost three weeks now in Washington, and the struggle is real to keep our five-year-old — and ourselves — sane!
Board games to the rescue! But when you’re playing games for hours (and days, and weeks), a lot of “kid games” can get a little tiresome for the grown-up set (looking at you, Mouse Trap).
So here are a few that my family is currently enjoying — simple enough for our not-yet-reading munchkin to grasp AND engaging enough to keep his parents entertained too.
When The Kiddo sent me off to Gen Con 2019 with a request for a game “with a track and real race cars,” HABA really delivered with Monza. Set on a racetrack with multi-colored squares, players take turns rolling colored dice to move their car along the track. He loves driving his car; we love that he’s learning basic sequencing.
Eleminis has become our go-to for a quick family game. A simple-to-learn card game, this one does have a slight spite element, which has prompted some important conversations about gracious winning AND losing. Ah, the joys of parenting.
My First Carcassonne
There are lots of “my first” and “junior” versions of popular games, but My First Carcasonne checks our boxes for being non-reader accessible and nothing we have to “let him win.” He beats us fair-and-square while learning tile placement and some basic “set myself up for the future” strategy.
No Thank You, Evil!
RPGs aren’t really my thing, but even I have fun sending my clumsy ghost companion to chase a dinosaur in No Thank You, Evil!. If you’ve been dreaming of the day your kiddo can adventure by your side, then this should probably have a spot on your shelf. My favorite part? If at any point the story gets too scary or intense, your kiddo (or you!) simply shouts “No Thank You, Evil!”, the scariness vanishes, and your adventuring party continues on their merry way.
Planet was a big hit at Gen Con 2019, and for good reason: It’s beautifully illustrated, and the 3D tile placement mechanic is a fun twist. But best of all for us is The Kiddo can play it on his own! His tile placement doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense, but given how many times he’s won, apparently sometimes the best strategy is no strategy at all.
I’d love to hear your recommendations for games that little ones can play and adults want to play! We could use some new ones! And best wishes to you during these intensely strange times; we’re all in this together.
* Recommendations are the opinion of individual staff members and do not reflect the official position of Gen Con LLC.