Bored Of Board Games? Family-Oriented Videogames Could Be The Solution

While playing board games might be a fun way to spend a family evening or other social event; children, parents and even grandparents can all get together and have a great time playing videogames. Although once thought of as an isolating and alienating influence, videogames are now becoming a favoured means of bonding for families.

A new survey by PopCap Games, released last month, found that 92% of casual gaming parents and grandparents used videogames to bond with their children or grandchildren. 70% of the respondents also cited that playing videogames with their young could help them improve their eye-hand co-ordination and memory and provided an opportunity for learning, stress relief and confidence-building.

Professor Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies at Nottingham Trent University, agreed with the survey’s findings:

“Empirical research has consistently shown that in the right context, computer and videogames can have a positive educational, psychological and therapeutic benefit to a large range of different ages and sub-groups,” he told

Recent years have seen an increase in the amount of games released with family interaction in mind, with the most popular being the Buzz!, SingStar and Guitar Hero series of videogames, all available for the PlayStation 2.

The Buzz! series of videogames allows up to 8 players to compete in quizzes just like real TV game shows, complete with the host – Buzz – and his assistant, Rose, all accompanied by an audience that claps and laughs, on a variety of topics – there are two general knowledge editions and three special editions for music, sports and Hollywood, respectively. The games even use special five-button Buzz! controllers to further authenticate the feel of being on a real game show. There is also the Buzz! Junior series, featuring party games rather than quizzes, aimed more at younger children, but can be equally enjoyable for older children or even adults.

SingStar is a karaoke game where players sing to music videos in order to score points, using microphones plugged into the console. Lyrics are shown at the bottom of the screen and players score points in real-time according to how accurate their singing is. The game allows two players to compete simultaneously, and up to 8 players can face off in a series of singing challenges using the ‘Pass the Mic’ feature. SingStar is different to most karaoke in that the rights have been obtained to use the original sound recording, meaning players can sing along to the actual track, while the original vocals can be lowered or elevated in the mix depending on the player’s, or audience’s, choice. The series includes different editions offering a diverse selection of music, including SingStar ’80s, SingStar Rocks! and the upcoming SingStar Bollywood.

Guitar Hero allows players to play along to their favourite rock songs on a special guitar-shaped controller. In the game, an extended guitar neck is shown on-screen, and as the song progresses, coloured markers indicating notes scroll down the screen in time with the music. The player has to push the corresponding buttons on the guitar controller in order to gain points, and the game supports both cooperative and competitive modes, allowing two people to play simultaneously. The songs included in the games cover a variety of genres, from easier numbers, like “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple, to the ridiculously hard, such as “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The latest instalment, Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock will be released later next month.

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Classic Board Games – Backgammon Board Games

Artifacts from ancient civilization in the Far East indicate that many popular board games existed in some form and most commonly in the aristocratic society. Dating back thousands of years ago, boards and game pieces from something that resembled the classic board game of backgammon were uncovered in Egypt and Rome as well as discoveries even farther back in time in Persia. A version of the game evolved in 800 AD, again in Persia, and this game very closely represented what we see today with traditional backgammon. It’s rules and moves may appear simple however with each turn, players can quickly change the course of the competition.

The board played on thousands of years ago, as with the board now, has 12 points for each ‘side’ which were said to represent the 12 months in the year. The total combined is 24 points for 24 hours in a day, and 30 playing pieces, whether you call them checkers, stones, chips or men, the number was to signify the days in a month. It’s a game that is rich with symbolism. Historically they would have constructed the boards and pieces using a wood surface. The playing pieces would be molded out of bits and pieces of bones, pottery or simple stones. The first appearance in English culture was back in approximately 1025 AD and names ‘tables’. It rose in popularity throughout the Middle Ages and soon appeared as a favorite past time for those frequenting taverns and pubs. This evolution was due to the Backgammon one on one gaming nature making it easily adapted into a form of gambling. The church and law makers stepped in to prohibit play because of the element of betting and wagering involved.

While the game is fairly simple in terms of its design, the method of play is largely based on standard strategies used since the inception of play. The one element that is out of the players control is still always going to be the roll of the dice. While the component of luck plays a part in the classic game of backgammon, players are still left with a collection of moves to decide upon and this is where the skill and experience will change the face of game play. Unlike some traditional games like checkers and chess, you win when all your pieces are gone!

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Vegas Showdown Board Game Review

Think you can build a better hotel casino than Caesar’s Palace or the Luxor? Prove it in Vegas Showdown, a game where millionaire investors compete to build the most famous resort in Vegas! Fill your casino with slots, table rooms, lounges, night clubs, restaurants and buffets in order to corner the market. Publicize it to the world and turn it into the most famous resort on the Strip. And like most things in Vegas: Winner takes all!

The story behind Vegas Showdown is that you and a few of your millionaire friends decided to buy a plot of land on the Vegas Strip in order to build hotel casinos on it. Being the rich gambling sort that you are, the bunch of you decided to add a bit of a wager into this deal: the owner of the most famous resort at the end of a year gains ownership of the entire plot! So the competition begins to build the best rooms and facilities to create the glitziest resort on the plot.

Vegas Showdown is primarily a bidding game. Each player starts with an empty 7×5 building lot, and will need to fill this up with various types of rooms. Each player earns income based on the current state of their hotel casino, and uses the cash to bid on different types of rooms and facilities to add to their resort. These bids are crucial as there are limited numbers of each type of room available in the game. At the end of the game, everyone scores fame depending on what their final hotel configuration is like and how much fame they acquired during the game, and the resort with the highest fame is the winner.

There are 3 categories of rooms you can build. The blue tiles represent hotel-type eateries such as the restaurant and buffet, and generally provide a population increase. The yellow tiles represent casino rooms such as the slots room and the table games room, and generally provide financial income. The green tiles are general entertainment rooms like the lounge, night club and theater, and generally provide fame (and here’s hoping they’ll release an expansion that will let you put entertainers like Cher and Bette Midler in your theater). The tiles are also split into 2 levels: basic and premium. The basic rooms such as the restaurant, slots and lounge are always available for bidding (while supplies last), while the premium rooms will appear on the board randomly. The tiles also vary in size and appear as either 1×1, 2×1 or 2×2 tiles.

Players take turns being the starting bidder, and each turn begins with players receiving income (in the form of poker chips!) depending on how much cash and population your resort can generate. The starting bidder then reveals a random event. These events have a variety of effects such as reducing the minimum bid of rooms or giving everyone extra cash. Once that is resolved, players take turns to perform an action: either bidding on tiles, renovating or doing publicity.

Each tile comes with a specific minimum bid (which decreases each turn that it remains on the bidding board). Players bid by placing their markers on the board, either meeting or exceeding the minimum bid. If you get outbid, you can bid again on the same tile, or move your bid to another tile, or choose to perform the renovate or publicity actions instead. Once you win a tile, you must place the tile onto your resort board or in a reserve area. Renovating allows you to rearrange your board, letting you take tiles out of the board into the reserve, and then letting you place tiles from the reserve onto your board. Doing publicity gives you instant fame and lets you place one tile from your reserve onto your board.

There is also strategy involved in deciding what tiles to bid on. Most premium tiles have a prerequisite, for example you need to have built a lounge first before being able to build a night club. Tile placement is also crucial. The edges of each tile are either entrances or walls, and the tiles must be placed and oriented so that visitors can access them from either the casino entrance or the hotel entrance of your resort. Another requirement is that casino tiles must be accessible from the casino entrance, and hotel tiles must be accessible from the hotel entrance. However, just meeting these technical requirements won’t win you the game. At game end, players will also score bonus fame depending on the layout of their resort.

The game ends when one of three stacks of premium tiles runs out. When that happens, players earn extra fame depending on how many of the objectives they meet. If you manage to completely fill your casino section with yellow and green tiles, you gain bonus fame. The same goes for the hotel section. Bonus fame is also awarded for connecting your hotel and casino entrances, and for strategically arranging your premium tiles. You will also score if you have high income and population. There are many ways to win in this game (sadly, none of them involves Bette Midler).

Vegas Showdown is a great board game that is suitable for all skill and experience levels. It also doesn’t take very long to learn or play. If you like bidding/auction games like Power Grid, tile placement games like Alhambra, or just the entire premise of owning a casino, then Vegas Showdown is perfect for you!

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Hot Trend For Christmas 2009 – Board Games

One of the hot trends for Christmas toy shopping this year may be the resurgence of the board game. That’s right, sales of many old prepong favorites such as Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, and Operation are increasing, while sales of video gaming systems such as PlayStation are dropping. Spurred by a combination of recessionary belt-tightening by shoppers, and a tendency to wax nostalgic during hard times, board game sales have increased 5% since May 2008 while toy sales in general have decreased 2%, with electronic games sales off by 12%.

Toy manufactures are responding to this new trend by updating their familiar games to have a more current feel. For example, the depression era game Monopoly has replaced it’s familiar shoe playing piece with a laptop. You can also purchase property using the new credit card machine. In place of removing a wishbone in the game Operation, you can now remove a cell phone finger, and the board game Clue has new characters, including a dot-com billionaire.

Marketing of board games is also being updated. Hasbro , the manufacturer of games such as Operation, Candy Land, and Scrabble has begun to promote “family game night” in response to the growing board game trend. Their Website features “games of the month” along with suggestions on how to host your own “game night”.

Technology has recently made its debut into the board game world. with a game called Scene It?. This game uses a DVD to display movie and television clips along with the traditional playing board to engage players in this fun trivia-style game.

So, what are going to be the hot board games for Christmas 2009?

A top seller in many stores continues to be the strategy game Settlers of Catan. In this game, geared for ages 10 and above, the players battle to collect resources, building settlements and cities that ultimately determine the winner.

Another top seller this year is Quiddler, a quick paced word lovers game in which players attempt to create words from dealt cards. Like Scrabble players try to use high point letters to get the highest score. Points are also given for most words, so even small words can help you win.

What serious board-gamers are picking as their top game overall is Puerto Rico. If your looking for a super fun strategy game that can teach your kids lessons in economics and commerce, this is it. Recommended for ages 12 and above, players of this game take on the roles of various plantation owners around the 1800′s. The winner is determined by who positions themselves best to deliver their product across the sea to Europe.

With a combination of gambling and trivia, Wits & Wagers may again be top seller for 2009. In this fast paced, easy to learn game, players not only try to answer fun, and sometimes crazy questions, but also bet on the accuracy of other players answers to crown a winner.

If you’re looking for a game which can be as enjoyable for a five year old as well as an adult you have to try Blokus Classics Game by Mattel. In this strategy game which lasts about 30 minutes, you place colorful pieces on the board in an attempt to be first to play all your pieces before your opponents. Blokus is a fast game, easy to learn and fun for both adults and children.

With the economy still in the dumps, and many board games selling for under $20.00, they are sure to be a popular present found under the Christmas tree this year. So pick up one while there’s still a good supply on store shelves. You’ll find out like many others already know. You forgot how much fun playing a board game with your family and friends can be.

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Learning Through Educational Board Games

Learning does not need to be cumbersome. It only takes innovation and clever thinking to discover other ways to imbue knowledge on children and even on adults. To do this, one has to simply add two variables: fun plus learning. The result? Well, educational board games for one.

Board games entice people to join in. In more ways than one they have to utilize their minds to memorize facts or solve problems to win. This way, they are more likely to engage on learning as much as they engage on gaming. Learning and gaming go hand in hand in this case, which makes information stick longer and faster in their heads compared to traditional teaching methods.

Educational board games are also great as an after school activity for children. Learning doesn’t have to start and stop at school. Continuing their schooling in a subtler and fun manner-i.e. educational board games-can help them out. Games like these help them enhance the way they think things through, quicken how they process information, and liven them up and motivate them to learn more.

Of course, they simply think that they are having fun and playing games, which is the important factor with educational board games. Making them feel that what they are doing is learning will encumber them. On the other hand, making them feel that what they are doing is fun makes them doubly enthusiastic, and at the back of their heads they are already storing knowledge. Moreover, if children are home schooled, educational board games are a great way to teach them.

But not all board games are applicable for everyone. Each game will have to depend on age.

Ages Three and Up

Looking back, most baby toys are made especially to enhance the mental capabilities of the baby. Games like these, are Cariboo. This game enhances the child’s recognition of colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. Being able to discern these very simple things is extremely important in a child’s development.

Ages Six to Nine

At this stage, children need more slightly complex games. In fact, they can even start playing educational board games many adults still find enjoyable. This means that board games for this age bracket has to have more complex rules, and they have to strategize, or reason out, and as well as discern spatial and color perception. Games that can fall under this category can be Dominoes, Checkers or Chinese checkers, Uno, and even Monopoly.

Ages Nine to Twelve

For this crucial stage, physical and mental changes are happening in a young person. The games integrated in here have more complex rules. They have to utilize their thinking more. This keeps them on track and their brain on alert. They also need to learn about teamwork at this stage. Board games for this age bracket help youngsters interact with others and develop the need to win in games. Monopoly is still applicable at this stage, but games like Clue (a detective game), the Game of Life, and even chess can now be incorporated.

Thirteen and Beyond

By the time they are thirteen, they can begin enjoying most board games adults play. They need to utilize math skills, logic, and more complex strategizing for games at this level. Card games are great as well, though teaching them gambling isn’t a good thing to integrate to their education. Scrabble is a better way to incorporate vocabulary and math skills for this age. Chess, too, is even more applicable for them. Basically, any adult educational board games can apply.

However, people still need to remember that at this stage, children are still easily influenced. Bad education is even worse than ignorance, so be careful what trait is being imbued on a young, susceptible person’s mind.

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