Getting 'On Board'
Today is Friday and tonight I’m not afraid to say I will be ‘rolling’ into town. Tonight will be a little bit different though. Tonight I will be taking a box of games with me to play with a group of 13 - 19 year olds.
Not only that, I will be playing games … on a bus. Not a tour bus or a city bus, a mini-bus. A stationary one…
Hmmm… I’ll be thinking very carefully about the games to take.
Ah - well, I was getting to that.
This evening the Imagination Gaming experience is on it’s way to Barnsley. In particular… the bus station!
Like most towns and cities they have a string of youth clubs across the local area doing their very best to give young people something different to do in the evenings.
The recent economic climate has put pay (no pun intended) to being able to maintain the level of community facilities there once was. Many centralised locations and buildings are being used for much more than they were originally intended, as smaller community facilities close due to lack of funding.
Simply put, to really have an effect, these organisations have to go to where the kids are, and that’s not always easy… but a room on wheels certainly can help.
These days, lot’s of youth projects use specially kitted out vans and buses to areas where young people can take advantage of them for a night. They can ferry outdoor kit around, such as sports equipment, but also provide a meeting space with a table or two and chairs for more concentrated activities and interventions.
What Games Will I Be Taking?
As always it’s not a case of thinking - 'like that game', or 'that’s really popular'. If you want to introduce anyone, especially kids, to games when they’ve never really played before you have to take more into consideration.
I’ll be thinking about age, ability, content, duration, and obviously… space. It’s going to be cramped that’s for sure but the bus will be stationary so at least we won’t be wearing seat-belts!
So on my list tonight, among others, will definitely be:
Jungle Speed - Speed and perception are the thing here. Tension builds as players reveal cards until a duel is initiated. First to react correctly survives!
Skull (or Skull and Roses) - Hell’s Angel themed game based on outbidding your opponents on how many of their cards you dare turnover without finding a skull. Bluff and double bluff are key elements to this and that’s always popular with this age group.
Katamino - One or two player challenge that grabs everyone’s ‘puzzle-bone’ wherever we go. I’ll be taking a couple of those along.
Tactic Elastic - Entered in 2013 Imagination Gaming awards this one is very abstract and challenges players to stretch various rubber bands repeatedly across a board of coloured poles. Losing your grip gets you penalties, snapping one gets loses you more points and possibly a finger. (slight over-exaggeration, but those things sting!)
Shephy - Brought back from Essen. A simply ingenious 1 player challenge for those looking for something clever to pit their wits against, but can be worked on together. The aim is to multiply the one sheep you start with and reach 1000 before the game ends, with seemingly every card in your hand against you!
Dobble - Hard not to take this! Easy to pick up and play and just good fun has made this one of the most popular games around in recent years.
None of the above demand excessive table space, a the very least they will be easy to ‘make do’, as they say. (Shephy maybe - but that will probably come out if it’s quiet!). Most of all, none of them require big boards, with plenty of pieces and space to sit around. They will all survive being knocked!
There will of course be more in there to choose from. It’s critical to take something new each time for those who have played before, and the trust you have gained with them makes it easier to introduce something a bit more involved.
Does It Work?
Of course it does!
Ever since we started working in youth clubs, we have continued to have a serious impact on the young people we work with. Most of them have never played board or card games much, and rarer still have anything positive to say about them… until they see our games!
We work with a number of councils and organisations in Yorkshire delivering evening game sessions to support school, community and authority supported initiatives, usually targeted at 8 - 18 yr olds, and all of them engage on some level with what we do and want to know when we’ll be back!
I find the youth workers are always surprised and excited to see an activity that provides such a positive balance of interaction and competition, so they are always glad to see us, but it’s the feedback from the kids themselves that demands our return.
Do you play games in awkward situations? That could be location you play them in, but for some it may be the people you play them with!
As always we’d love to hear your opinions and experiences below or via our social media pages and look forward to hearing from you.