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.

got
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.

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.

 

twilightimperium
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?

 

 

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Game: Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

Rated: E for Everyone

Status: Worth Playing

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You can see more about it here.

Overview

Zelda’s been around since I was a kid, so it was fun to share it with my almost-kindergartner. She loves the game.

I’ve heard it called Skyrim for Zelda, and that’s not an inaccurate description.

 

Pros

  • It’s E for everyone, so the violence is cartoon in nature (think Road Runner or Bugs Bunny).

 

  • Bad Guys – Anything Link kills looks like a monster. These monsters come back alive at the next Blood Moon, so they don’t truly stay dead.

 

  • Not Scary – My daughter can be scared by My Little Pony. There was nothing in this game that truly scared her until we got to Gannon at the end. She would occasionally get frustrated with the puzzles in the game, but that’s okay.

 

  • Puzzles – The puzzles are challenging and thoughtful. Not something DD1 could solve on her own, but it challenged her to come up with ideas as even DH and I weren’t able to solve all of them easily.

 

  • Memories – We all enjoyed collecting “memories” (Link has lost his) and seeing what happened that led up to the post-apocalyptic world you start in. It let us get to see the way Zelda and Link went from an adversarial relationship, to friends, to something much deeper.

 

  • Environment – Environment becomes a factor to consider rather than just a backdrop: skeleton monsters come out of the ground at night, rain makes climbing more difficult, the sun rises and sets, the moon rises and sets, there are phases of the moon, etc. Many of these things actually feature in the gameplay, such as being properly equipped for the freezing mountain temperatures.

 

  • Load Screens– The load screens reasonable in length. Bethesda could learn a few things about this.

 

  • Armor Sets – DD1 loved the fact that Link could change his clothes, and she was very mindful that he didn’t overheat or freeze. These outfits were all upgradable, and really needed to be upgraded as you faced tougher monsters.

 

  • Rewards Worth the Challenge – Some things were always a challenge. Lynells and guardians, for example, are never a cake walk even at end game. You are rewarded for the effort with amazing weapons.

 

Cons

  • Gender Roles – It reinforces traditional gender roles. Zelda is the one who can’t master her power. Zelda is the one who falls crying to the ground. Zelda is the one yelled at by her father. Link is the one that has to save her. Blah. I almost didn’t buy the game because of this. Little girls get enough of this garbage without stuff like this reinforcing it. The game was originally going to feature the ability to choose whether you played Zelda or Link as the hero. I hope they release DLC that allows this. It wouldn’t be that difficult of a change. Not really. And it would let little girls see a girl kicking Bokoblin butt. I’ve tried to convince DD1 to think of Link as a girl, but she’s having none of it. Already. This is why not giving girls the option to play a girl is so awful.

 

  • Graphics – Enough said.
Link20122014
Frankly, the graphics from 2006 Twilight Princess were better.
  • Ending – I won’t spoil the ending, but we were disappointed. Not with the game play, per se, but I wanted the traditional cathartic release you expect at the end of a game. Especially a game this long. I didn’t get it, and I didn’t get to keep playing to finish up all those armor upgrades. Once you defeat Gannon, the whole thing is over even if you haven’t finished exploring. Hoping for a DLC on this where you can have Zelda as a companion and keep investigating the world. Seems wrong to leave the princess in the tower holding Gannon at bay while I explore the expansive world.

 

  • Controls – Unlike Mario Kart that my almost-kindergartener can not only play by herself, but give her father a run for first place, the controls for BOTW (Breath of the Wild) are complex. Even my husband had some issues at times. This was not a game DD1 could play on her own.

 

  • Tedious Upgrades – Some of the clothing upgrades grew tedious. How many times do I really need to camp the dragons to shoot some part of them?

 

  • No Real Story – There main story is pretty sparse, though the memories help. It’s really just: defeat Big Bad or else he will unleash total devastation. No explanation as to why, no character development, not even for Link or Zelda. And there’s clearly a huge opportunity with this with all Zelda has to do to unlock her power. Not even any really good side stories for Link to get involved in as he tries to regain enough strength to defeat Gannon. I suppose this is par for video games, which is really sad. They have the opportunity to do so much more.

 

All in, if you aren’t worried about the gender stereotypes, it’s well worth a play through.

Children and Birthday Parties

So, last year I waited until the end of September to start thinking about DD1’s birthday. I learned kid’s birthday parties are sorta like weddings. You have to plan them far in advance.

By the time we started, it was far too late for most things, so we ended up hosting it at home.

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This was extremely stressful, and frankly, the party was only so-so for my daughter and her friends.

October starts my busy season at work. It’s also Halloween, other family members’ birthdays, including immediate family. Yeah, it’s a pretty full month. Let’s just say her party last year was half-baked, but we got away with it because most of the guests were four.

We won’t get that luxury this year, especially as DD1 will be in kindergarten. So, I started planning early.

I’m not Pinterest mom, but we can do better than putting everything together the night before the party. Yeah. We were real organized last year.

amazonmom
So, so true.

So, here’s what I’ve come up with:

 

Dance Birthday

The dance place she dances at hosts children’s birthday parties. They provide an indoor venue (critical as we can have snow in October), and one of the instructors takes care of entertaining the monsters children. They also take care of the invitations, set-up and clean-up.

I’m leaning towards this because I’m really busy already. I bring the birthday child and cake. They do everything else

 

Water Park Birthday

There is a small indoor water park in our area. They offer birthday packages where the kids can play in the pool and on the water slides, then afterward they had a room for the monsters children to eat cake before I send them home.

However, this would mean getting into a swimsuit to help monitor them in the pool. I’d really rather not, but it’s an option.

waterpark1
Not this kind, but I’d like it better!

Other

  • I’ve checked the YMCA, but all kids have to be 6 and older.
  • I asked her about bowling, and she said yuck. Didn’t like the bowling field trip at school and quit after less than one round.

 

As I’m offering the two choices above to my daughter, she proposes a third: an at-home Zelda party.

I squirm. I explain to her that our house is pretty small, she couldn’t have nearly as many friends over.

  • Read: I don’t want to clean and prep for the party. Or clean up afterwards. Or entertain monsters children for two hours.

She says she doesn’t care. She’ll just have fewer friends over. I try again, explaining that not many other children are going to know who Zelda is. She says she doesn’t care, they can come as other princesses.

link1
Not sure why it’s called Zelda when all you ever see is Link.

So, I back off. Maybe we can convince her later if we phrase it right.

We try again at dinner the next day, and I explain that the dance place has themes and she gets to pick the one she wants. She seems pretty happy about doing the party at the dance place and picked the princess theme.

Then, comes an awful, rushed, hectic morning. We’re finally in the car, with everything we need (I’d forgotten something and had to turn around twice), and now DD1 has me again trapped in the car.

You know where this is going. Yeah, like that.

She tells me she really doesn’t want to do a dance party. She really wants a Zelda party at home. I explain again that we can’t have as many friends come if we do the party at home. I explain again that I don’t think her friends will know who Zelda is.

She is undeterred.

She wants a Zelda party.

I told her to think about it. I have a little time yet to make a decision.

She gave me the patented DD1 look and said she’d think about it, but she already told me what she wanted.

*sigh*

How about you? Ever have to throw a child’s birthday party? Any pointers or tips?