Games: Cooperative vs Competitive

I never liked games much as a kid. Most of them were boring with little strategy. The ones that did engage some strategy seemed designed to make one person feel awesome for winning and everyone else had be losers.

Sums it up nicely. 

So, I avoided games for years. Still don’t like board games, although I’ve since discovered things like D&D that are technically a game but are cooperative and a lot more fun.

My husband has loved board games his whole life, so he really wants our little ones to love games with him. Then, he’ll finally have someone to play with.

He introduced DD1 to Candyland. Which, she promptly cheated at. She got bored quickly because she knew her colors and how to count to two, so DH started trying to make up new rules to help her learn strategy. For example, she could pick two cards instead of one and select whichever card she wanted to play.

This lasted for a little while, but she quickly grew bored of the game. So, he got her My Little Pony chutes and ladders. We all know how much DD1 likes MLP.

Again, her interest lasted for a short while. Her learning curve was well past counting to six (she’s always been precocious), but the real issue was when she started looking at the pictures. She stopped wanting to play the game because she didn’t think the ponies would do all the bad things they were depicted doing to get sent down the slide.

Santa brought her some more games for Christmas, most of which were not terribly interesting to her. She played Guess Who for a while, intrigued by the differences in hair color, costumes, and faces of the people. But after a few months, even that wore off.

Then I stumbled across a game called Hoot Owl Hoot.


I’d never heard of it, but the premise was intriguing. A cooperative game where children play with their parent on the same side, and in the process, learn more advanced strategy instead of just basic numbers and colors.

I bought it, and it arrived in two days.

My daughter loved it! She would play three or four games of it before getting bored, and you could see her progress with strategy. When we lost, which we sometimes did depending on the difficulty level she chose, we’d say something like, “Those silly owls didn’t make it home before dawn.” Then, we’d set the game up to play again. No tears. Sometimes a little frustration, but never anger. Losing tended to make her just want to try again, with an adult’s help, of course.

This company makes other games as well, and she enjoys most of them. Hoot owl Hoot, though, is a favorite.

Doing a little research told me that she was behaving perfectly normal for a child of her age. Most kids aren’t ready to be okay with losing until they’re at least seven or eight years old. Even then, it can be a tough lesson.

I can see that she has the makings of enjoying games, especially games like Zelda. DH could probably even get her interested in role play games like D&D in a few years. But I think she might have too much of me in her to ever be willing to sit down and play Twilight Imperium.


And this is the express version. The manual is longer than novels I’ve read.

Sorry, honey, she got half my DNA.


How about you, do you love board games? Hate them? Do your kids or grandkids like them? Any good ones for precocious preschoolers I should check out?



The Games We Play

People love games. Video games. Board games. Professional sports. Games on our phones.

Games are also a great way of showing more about the personality of the characters we write or learning more about the people we meet. Are they a poker ace? Perhaps chess is more to their tastes. Do they run off and leave their party all the time, or do they hide behind the tank? Do they mark the cards in Candy Land (looking at DD1 here)?

Or maybe you just drew Queen Frostine.

Perhaps they throw the chessboard to the ground if they’re losing. Maybe they never flinch even when they’re bluffing. The fact that they are bluffing also tells us something about them.


There are a couple of tried and true games Regency fiction uses to get characters together, usually croquet or lawn bowling. Archery contests are occasionally used, usually to showcase a character’s skills.


Yes, bowling. The sport of kings. In 1511, King Henry VIII banned bowling for the lower classes and imposed a levy on bowling so only the wealthy could afford to it. Another law passed in 1541 (and not repealed until 1845) prohibited workers from bowling except on Christmas, and only in their master’s home and in his presence. So, yes, pretty exclusive stuff if you’re reading or writing historical fiction.



In Regency romance novels, croquet is usually depicted as a light-hearted sport used as an excuse for the hero and heroine to be together. The characters are never shown as competitive, and frequently may not even finish the game.

So not my experience.

The only time I ever played croquet was with my in-laws, and to them, it’s a competitive sport (not quite as bad as Heathers). They even have an annual competition that is pretty serious business, although they also like to play “camp” croquet. Imagine setting up a croquet obstacle course over uneven terrain, rocks, sticks, twigs and sand. Fun to watch, but it has nothing in common with the Regency depiction of croquet.


Lawn Bowling

Again, another sport used to keep the hero and heroine together. You see this a lot less often than croquet in what I’ve been reading, and I’ve never read of actual bowling in a novel despite its popularity with royalty. Not sure why it’s so much less popular unless the authors are concerned most readers don’t know what an elite sport it was.

I’ve never lawn bowled. Seems like a lot of work to go out and set-up the pins after each roll of the ball. Granted, those that would be playing during the Regency period would have servants to do the unpleasant work. I am not sure if modern-day bowling would have much in common with lawn bowling in England, and the few experiences I have with modern bowling make for funny stories. Not sure those would translate well to historical fiction.



You see archery a lot in Regency fiction. Gives a reason for the gentlemen to take off their coats, and allows the hero to demonstrate his skill at the manly art. Sadly, I see few heroines bringing it in archery competitions.

As for archery, I’ve never even held a bow. The closest I’ve come to one is seeing them  at the sporting goods store. Of course, modern bows are nothing like what someone in the Regency period would be using.

Don’t believe me? Go take a look at a compound bow.  Not much like the ones we think of from the tales of Robin Hood.



So, while I don’t have a lot of experience in Regency games, what I do have a lot of experience in is board games. And not the Milton Bradley ones of my childhood. DH loves games and has collected quite a lot of them. From easy games we can play with DD1 like Stone Soup to games like Twilight Imperium (classified as an epic board game) that comes with a rule book longer than the novel I’m working on.

Not sure if board games will ever come into play in Fantasy Romance, but you never know. I need to do more research and learn about the different games people played.

How about you? What games do you like? Do you like bowling, croquet or archery? How about board games? Do you use them to show more about your characters?

More importantly do your children cheat at Candyland?