What Every Gaming Parent Needs…

So, when I was putting the finishing touches to the Loopin Louie video review, I found myself somewhat downcast… Of all the games that I’ve reviewed so far with my pint-sized progeny, there’s no doubt Loopin’ Louie would be the one I’d recommend…

And yet according to my scoring system, it came in third place, behind First Orchard – a beautifully-produced game for really young children that does at least have one decision for players to make, but remains for grown-ups an experience more akin to First Tortured

So I got to thinking about what it is I personally want when searching for games to play with my kids Ezra (nearly 4) and Eli (2) and whether I need to rethink the rating system. The answer was a little disturbing…

All I care about is me!



Me! Devil horns and all…

Bear with me a second though gang.

Let’s be honest, here. Kids are easily entertained… Take this illustrative excerpt from my life…


Ezra: “Look at this leaf, Daddy! It’s so green!”

Me: “Yes, Ez, it is very green.”

Eli: “Plane! Plane! Plane, Daddy!

Me: “Yes Eli, consider your sighting of a plane formally acknowledged…”



But somehow my own green leaf of childlike enthusiasm has long since withered, being trampled underfoot by the stampede of constant high quality entertainment at my fingertips – YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, TV, radio, podcasts – so much fascinating new content to bombard your senses, which ultimately numbs my innate sense of wonder and dumps me down to a media withdrawal state whose default emotion is boredom.

Floor leaves

What remains of my innocence…

Or perhaps we just need more entertaining than children because our brains are more developed…

Anyways, whatever the reason for it – I am more difficult to entertain than my children. As such, my priority is to find a game (or a way to play a game) that I can actually enjoy myself, because I know the boys will be pretty excited even if all they get to do is open an empty game box…

Ex playing

Loves pink stripey fish, hates the hairbrush…

Often with young children, it’s a question of how you play the game, as you’ll need to build in some complexity for your own mind that the rulebook of a toddler’s game will necessarily exclude. Perhaps you’ll play Floundering (pictured left) with your spouse, using the knowledge of your child’s colour preferences when choosing fish to give you the competitive edge. Or you’ll set yourself the challenge of trying to get exactly the same number of marbles as your daughter in a game of Kerplunk. Or maybe you’ll develop a physical or mechanical handicap to even the playing field, like we did for our house rules in Loopin Louie.



Whatever it is, you’ll need to prioritise your sanity if you want to get through gaming with your 2 or 3-year-old and you’d ideally want a list of the highest adult ratings of the games available for young children… That’s what I want, anyway.

Then again, some parents will be more focused on their child’s development and will want to know the best games for challenging their child’s age and stage.

Ez give

10 minutes of boredom anyone?

Or they might be after a game like Spotty Dogs (see right) with high child enjoyment factor that the kids can play without them whilst they cook dinner. They may not care that it actually makes time stand still for playing adults.


Or maybe they need a game that will entertain their 10-year-old and their 3-year-old at the same time.

My point is, one of these days some bright spark needs to develop a system to satisfy all these different preferences and give parents a powerful reference resource to guide them in this minefield.

Well, today I am unilaterally declaring a national holiday for what will no doubt become known as Family Game Ratings Score Day from now on because that day has come…

Allow me to introduce you to… the Graph of Truth…

Game ratings

Look at that line Daddy! It’s so green!

So, we’ve got age along the x-axis and rating on the y-axis, with the games listed including all those that I’ve reviewed on this site for young children up to now.

Each game rating has 4 componentschild enjoyment (this varies with age), adult enjoyment, how it teaches the overarching principles of gaming (also varies with age) and other stuff (theme, components, cost, art/design and rulebook). The graph shows the total of those 4 areas for all the games covered so far, but just imagine the possibilities…

There is no game playable by a child aged 15 or younger that can’t be scored in this way…


And so it begins…

If you want to take a look at the spreadsheet (and frankly, who wouldn’t?), then there’s a read-only spreadsheet available here where you can take a look, with different sheets for each age and all the data on the first sheet.

Not only can you see the total game rankings for each age, but also the rankings of the “child enjoyment”, “adult enjoyment”, “overarching principles” and “other” categories, with each age listed under a separate worksheet.

OK, so let me know your thoughts on this rating system in the comments? Has this already been done somewhere else?

Now all I need to do is review all the family games ever made… Shouldn’t take too long…


One thought on “What Every Gaming Parent Needs…

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