They deserve better!
I am a huge fan of children’s games. I have a big collection of board games for kids and even though my own kids got older and they won’t play with me anymore, I still keep these kids games in my collection. I won’t get rid of them. I will play with my grandchildren, right?!
There are some real gems among games for children. Ramses II. Labyrinth. Gulo gulo – to mention only a few classics.
And yet, even though these days game stores offer so many great innovative children’s games, there is still a ton of mere unimaginative variants of memory games.
Yes, sure, kids like memory games. They have a great memory, they beat their parents easily and they enjoy it.
But then at some point…
I was a teacher for a few years, and I was conducting board games classes. I would play with kids for hours. I would bring them stupid toyish games like Louping Louis, Operation, or Funny Bunny. Kids loved them.
I would bring different versions of memory games, with Chicken Cha Cha Cha, Monster Chase, or Ramses II being the highlights among many others.
And I would also bring them some more difficult games. Games like Batik Kids. Pickomino. Wicked Witches Way. Ribbit. And many more.
And guess what!
After a few lessons more and more kids were moving towards the more difficult games. They liked the challenge. They wanted to think deeper. They wanted to play something more than just another memory or toyish game. Operation and Funny Bunny sank into oblivion.
In 2015, Portal Games launched an amazing economy game for children (!) on the Polish market. It is called My Happy Farm and was designed by the authors of Mysterium. It quickly won the hearts of board game fans in Poland.
Soon after the release, we decided to buy full rights to the English version of the game and to release it worldwide. This week it’s going to hit retail stores in the U.S.
It is a very smart design. It challenges young players, it makes them think and engage with the game from the very beginning till the last minute of the play. Children will need to plan carefully in advance, they’ll need to sow and plant, harvest, feed the animals – they will have to manage the whole farm!
That’s a challenge they’re going to love.
That’s a story they will understand.
That’s a task that will sound cool for them.
(and BTW: harvesting and feeding is something that you all love, too – I am looking at you, Agricola fans!)
Yesterday we began the game’s promotional campaign. We say: „Don’t feed your children with another memory game.”, and I strongly, strongly, strongly believe in this message.
We all know they deserve much better than just another memory game.
I totally agree with you. I have 13 and 9 year olds and even though the oldest won’t like to game a lot, I try to play with my youngest more games. I actually decided to have he play games intended for ages 12+; sometimes I had to tweak and simplify rules a little bit but it has been an awesome experience. Since I decided not to be limited by the age specified in the box I realised that this may help my kid develop certain skills that (maybe) games targeted exactly at her age wouldn’t have. Now, when she wants to try a new game and I use the 'It’s for grown-ups’ line she will challenge me and say 'Don’t limit myself, let me try it and then we’ll see’, and well we’ve seen! The only caveat here is that sometimes she wants to lure some of her friends to play and she’ll immediately notice that they are stuck in Candyland – Monopoly style mechanics and aren’t so keen to explore something new. Anyway, I think the overall experience has been great and she’ll be a great gamer in the years to come.
One real problem I see with children’s games is that they should have components that are safe for children younger than the target audience.
After all, many kids have younger siblings who are around.
Your situation sounds very similar to mine. Grown kids. Former teacher. I now have 2 grandkids.
I’m a huge 'Gric fan.
What’s the current status of My Happy Farm? Did it make it to US stores as planned? If so, which stores? I think I need to find a copy somewhere.