Martin says, “I became interested, or re-interested I should say, in tabletop games through my children. They are currently 9 and 12. We had played the great Lego dungeon crawl board game ‘Heroica’, and enjoyed adding roleplay and story elements to it as we played, as well as designing our own maps with our own monsters. This lead me on to think they would enjoy ‘proper’ roleplaying games just as I had in my youth. I thought they might be too young for them, though, and so I cast around for a game to move on to from Heroica. I liked the idea that Heroica, in common with role-playing games, was cooperative and so opened the door to a world of cooperative board games. Our first was Matt Leacock’s ‘Forbidden Island’. We took this on a hostelling holiday and played it back-to-back about 20 times. From this we found more and more. They’re still our favourite type.
The benefits of gaming
Coincidentally, I found that a friend had been using tabletop games therapeutically with adults with learning difficulties and had amassed a huge collection. He introduced us to a wider range still as well as beginning a conversation, which continues even now, about the benefits that gaming can bring to any number of situations. Through gameplay we use and develop soft skills such as social interaction; cooperation; negotiation; planning ahead; concentration and resilience. We can also learn fact-heavy information: my children are pretty savvy with the position of global cities thanks to Pandemic and Ticket to Ride. But, I think, most useful of all is the appreciation of a process through playing a game.
Take a game like Pandemic in which the players cooperate to find cures to four global diseases while simultaneously fighting spontaneous outbreaks of disease. The players must choose to prioritise, to allocate resources, to plan ahead, to respond to crises. Through this they gain a vivid understanding of tough decisions and the process of decision making which organisations and governments make every day. A useful tool in education, then.
I will be writing more about this, I should think.
Tabletop Games Night
Soon, we were enthusing other people which grew into our own weekly games night and then grew further until we were hosting a grown up games night at our wonderful local venue, Designate at The Gate.
Double L Games
Of course our next step was to design our own tabletop games. And with one of our first board game designs (conceived and guided by my daughter, Lily) we metaphorically rolled a double 6. Lily designed a board game for a school project which was so good, so educational, so mature and so much fun that we decided to publish it.
And Lo! Double L Games was born.