Event Manager Marian McBrine on Fun and Accessible Games for Families and Pairs
Hi, my name is Marian McBrine and I’m an Event Manager for Gen Con. I joined the team full-time in early 2016; however, I started working as a contractor for Gen Con in 2003, the year the convention was first in Indianapolis. I work from home, and have a 9-year-old son who is now schooling at home with me.
Social distancing has led me and my family to indulge in quite a lot more online gaming than we normally do. On my phone, Words with Friends 2 has been a great way for me to keep connected with my friends. On the Switch, my son has been kept busy with Fortnite, and we’ve both been busy with Animal Crossing! Having friends over to our little Animal Crossing island isn’t quite as good as visiting in person, but it’s still great fun. 😊
That said, we haven’t forsaken board games completely. In addition to organizing my gaming library and looking up rules for games I haven’t played yet for when our gaming group starts meeting up again, we’ve actually played some great tabletop games as well.
This party game has a similar mechanic to A Fake Artist Goes to New York, but it’s a little easier for kids to grasp, and it works well for a mix of adults and kids. The active player has a card with a secret word; that card, plus other cards, are handed randomly to each other player. Everyone draws a picture referencing the word on their card, including the active player, then players guess who had the same word as the active player. The key here is that you want to get the picture close enough that the active player and the player with his word can recognize each other, but NOT so close that the other players can correctly guess who had the active player’s secret word, because then they’ll score as well. So it’s all about subtle hints in drawings.
While there’s technically a winner, that’s not really important; the game usually devolves into silly drawings, odd explanations, and lots of laughs. My son can’t wait to get a larger group together to play this!
This classic two-player deduction game has been around since the 70s … at least. Players take turns being the Code Maker or Code Breaker: the Code Maker places pegs of different colors in a specific order in a hidden compartment while the other player, the Code Breaker, has a limited number of turns to guess the hidden pattern, by placing pegs on the board and being told whether any are the correct color and/or in the correct order.
This simple game is one that my son can play several times in a row, and I can as well. It’s easy to learn, and the best part is, if you’re staying at your parents or grandparent’s house, you can check their old game stash — odds are good they’ve got an old copy you can break out.
This completely unique game challenges you to make recipes from cards by folding a small piece of cloth, which contains pictures of all the recipes, into various shapes, so that only the dishes shown on the recipe card are showing on the folded cloth. It’s a race, as the last person to finish essentially loses a point, and three points and you’re out.
This game literally takes five seconds to learn and anyone can play it; you don’t have to win every round, you just have to not be last. This one always ends in a lot of laughs as players desperately try to figure out the best and quickest folds.
All of these board games have simple rules, are fun for both adults and kids, and they’re really just about having fun together, not so much about winning. I think these simple, light-hearted games are just what our family needs right now.
* Recommendations are the opinion of individual staff members and do not reflect the official position of Gen Con LLC.