UK Games Expo through the eyes of a Child

Sometimes, as adults who are still playing with toy soldiers, we forget that games started out as a way to entertain our children. So this week I wanted to bring you a guest post from the lovely Mark Collins from Grim Tree Games (follow him on twitter) as he describes the way his 5 year old daughter perceived her first UK Games Expo.

Hello all. As you probably know, the UK Games Expo was last weekend, and it was a big success. Bigger venue, larger attendance, and pile and piles of quality games. Lots of happy gamers.

It was made a bit more special for me this year however. I helped out with the UK Gaming Media Network on the Saturday, and helped my brother play test his new card game ‘Parasite’, both of which I enjoyed a lot. The true treat though, was that my first born daughter was old enough to come and play games.

I was worried at first, she is only 5, and like all 5 year old children sometimes has the attention span of a goldfish. That’s not her fault, a 5 year old brain operates at the speed of thought. By the time she has worked out if something is a good idea or not, she has generally already done it.

We play games at home, but it’s been the standard kids stuff, Buckaroo, Pop Up Pirate, the kind of game where something is spring-loaded ready to explode and scare the life out of me. This was a chance to play some thinky games with her and connect on that level, also to get her playing these games with other kids.

I started the our online store with an older age range in mind (rather selfishly my age range), so it was an opportunity so see more family orientated games in action, the idea eventually put them cubequeston the store. We headed over to the Coiled Spring stand to see what they had on the demo tables. We played Cube Quest and Spooky Mirror Castle on their stand, and she loved them.

In Cube Quest you build a castle made of cube soldiers around a king cube, then flick them at the opponents castle trying to knock their king off the play mat. Plastic cubes were flying everywhere. In Spooky Mirror Castle you are trying to work out which of 4 ghost figures are kids dressed up and which one is the real ghost, also and which colour candle the ghost is holding. You can only see the candles by placing the ghost in the middle of the board and using a mirror to look under the candle. However if it’s the real ghost the mirror disappears so you have to deduce the colour from the other ghosts. You also have to move around the board collecting tokens before you can guess. She was totally engrossed. The games were for all ages, it wasn’t like I was dumbing down to play with her. The games put us on a level playing ground, so we all got something out of it. When pickadogwe left the stand all we heard about was the “spooky castle game” and the “flickly game” (Cube Quest). We ended up buying them, but keep a look out on the store as we want to stock these soon.

After that we went to the Imagination Family gaming area. There was a large table of games to choose from, but better than that there were the Imagination Gaming staff around to ask which game would be best to try. We had a game of Pick up Dog, an awesome quick reaction card game, and Dobble, another quick card game. Both needed fast reactions as there was no turn structure, it was just a free for all.

Pick up Dog had you picking up cards with pictures of dogs on them with slight differences. You had to pick up the same picture or one with 1 difference, the person with the most cards won. Harder than it sounds. In Dobble you have a deck of round cards with random pictures on. There was a central discard pile, as fast as you could you drew the top card from your deck and had to find a matching symbol on the top face up card on the discard pile. When you did you put your card face up on the discard pile, therefore changing all the pictures again. The first one to put all their cards down won. Super Super simple, but lots of fun. I would like to thank the Imagination Gaming staff who made sure we had rorysthe right game for our daughters age and stayed and played it with us till she was happy with the rules, they did a great job.

Lastly, we had a go with a set of Rory’s story cubes. For anyone who doesn’t already know, it consists of 9 dice, each with a random assortment of pictures on dice faces. You roll the dice, then use each dice and the picture rolled in turn to tell a story. There are no winners or losers, its just an exercise in imagination. I thought my daughter would go for this, she loves telling stories, they generally tend to involved princesses. It was another game that sounds interesting, but only really shines once you are playing it. So we bought that as well :)

At the end of the day I asked her if she had a good time, she said she had a brilliant time and couldn’t wait until she got home and could play her games again. I had a brilliant time as well, getting to play a different type of game and share it with my daughter, and see her enjoy the hobby for the first time was amazing. Based on that we are going to look at more family based games and events for the store. Its always been about doing what we enjoy, and now I get to share it with my family.

Hope everyone else that went had a great time, and if you missed it be sure to get there next year!