Friday, September 16, 2011

Two Games That Aren't Annoying

We're a big game-playing family. But there are so many kids' games that, perhaps while fun and educational for kids, are excruciating for parents. Chutes and Ladders makes me want to chute myself, for example. But really, I think I've only played it once. If my kids ask to play it, I can usually succeed in talking them out of it. Or I bribe them.

But we do own two games that are not at all annoying. In fact, I often volunteer to play them. And I might even be caught playing them myself after the children are in bed.

The first is Busytown, a game every family I know personally owns. (Because if they didn't already own it, I gifted it to them.) A few things that make this game great are its reliance on teamwork and its simplicity. But what really sells the game are the Goldbugs. Goldbugs rock. If you spin a Goldbug (or, while your kids are distracted, you subtly move the spinner arrow to the Goldbug section of the spinner and then excitedly call out "Goldbug!" making everyone so elated they don't even have a chance to think about whether or not you just cheated), everyone scours the six-foot long board with mini faux magnifying glasses in search of the object in question. If you're familiar with Richard Scarry's illustrations, you could imagine how fun it is to pore through his pictures in search of banana peels. This game calls for a little bit of braininess, but mostly it's just fun. For everyone.

Now while I was kidding that I might play Busytown without my kids, I'm serious when it comes to AnimaLogic. This is one of those games that could have an age range from 2 to 102. ('Cause, let's face it, once you hit 103, you're just not as sharp as you once were.) It mostly works for so many ages because you can choose from a range of difficulty levels. The premise is simple: move animals by matching their shape or color. But it can tie your brain in knots! I am amazed to watch Fifi strategize through a long series of moves before deciding her first step. It calls for a lot of braininess, but that's why it's enjoyable for adults. (Well, smart adults anyway.) And bonus, the kids like it, too.

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