I love seeing children interested in the hobby. It means that it will continue to grow over time. As a teacher, I spend some time teaching kids to play and appreciate game. That being said though, not all games are going to work for all kids. When attending a game night where you intend to bring your children, you should be aware of whether your child will be able to participate fully. While running a game group at a store I would have parents ask if they could bring or drop off their children to play freqeuently. On days where we were playing more complicated non-party games I would ask the parents to answer the following questions:
- Has your child played a modern boardgame before?
- Can your child feasibly sit still and focus for 1-2 hours?
- Will you work with your child if they do not understand the rules?
- Can your child patiently wait for their turn?
- Will your child respect the owner’s game by not bending cards, eating/drinking while playing, or causing other forms of damage?
- Will your child be upset if we ask them to put a phone or iPad away?
- Is your child going to enjoy this experience?
Now, it was never an instant turn away if a parent admitted that their child may not be able to follow these expectations. Often times when parents would be unsure we would invite them to bring a more child friendly game and we would play with the child before moving onto something heavier. Another thing I would suggest is working in tandem with the adult during more complicated games, so the child still feels they had a role.
However, I always discouraged parents from just dropping their kids off at game night. This puts the organizer in an awkward position of trying to babysit your child, and not being able to make those suggestions to help the child enjoy their time, while still maintaining the enjoyment of the adults. It still happened occasionally, but it is something I would never suggest a parent doing.
I have never been one to put an age limit on games, because each child has unique abilities. I have seen a six year old be able to concentrate all the way through Scythe and play effectively. I have seen 14 year olds who destroy cards and get upset and quit during werewolf. Each child is unique in that way.
Now the one thing to note is I mostly talked about at a public store. If you are hosting a game night, your rules go no matter what. If someone else is hosting a game night it is polite to ask them first and see what their expectations are.
It’s great to get kids involved with gaming as early as possible though. It teaches crucial life skills such as how to win and lose gracefully, how to make decisions and solve problems, and how to focus and communicate for long periods of time. If you are unsure about bringing them to a game night, start them at your house and see how they do. The more you play, the more ready they will be to play elsewhere.