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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » Gaming with Kids

Subject: Voting on age ratings rss

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Here's my situation...I haven't had a chance to get Pandemic to the table so finally last weekend with my wife out of town I gathered my three kids (13, 8 and 6) to play with me. I was concerned my two youngest wouldn't be able to handle the game since the community vote is 10+.

To my delight, my 8 year old actually came up with a couple great moves that were critical to our victory.

My 6 year old on the other hand has very little concept of the deeper strategy required to win, but on the other hand I am confident that he could setup the game by himself and complete a turn all on his own regardless of what happens. To be clear though, if he played with 3 clones of himself, they would lose the game every time, he is making simple moves that he can easily choose.

My question (tl;dr) is when voting for the age rating on a game, do you rate based on the child's ability to play with strategic guidance or their ability to compete on their own? Obviously Pandemic being a co-op game makes a big difference since strategic guidance is part of the game. In this situation, would you vote for 8 or 6 being your recommended age for the game?
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Jonathan
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My kids have to be able to compete on their own for me to vote their age on a game. With some minor help when asked for.
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Nathanael Robinson
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I'm not sure if you are specifically talking about Pandemic or games in general. However, I argue often that 8 years/3rd grade is a cognitive stepping stone that allows them to play board games that are lighter, but still appeal to adults. At that age, kids are asked to do more complex reading tasks that require them to chain ideas together. Your six year old might be a great reader at his age, but he might not have been challenged to use a broader range of analytical skills, and he might not be there yet developmentally.

I also think that parents should challenge kids to think about the moves they make. This is different from giving help, rather asking them to think about the full set of circumstances. I don't find that to be overt assistance, but is more like an extension of the Socratic method, asking questions that help others to get down to the tasks and decision at hand.
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I actually tend to think of age ratings as being most useful if they go by the age at which kids can generally read through the rules, set up the game, explain it and play. My ten year old can do that for a pretty good number of games.

Outside of BGG (I know we are on BGG, but I still think this is pertinent), I think people tend to think of age ratings less in terms of when can my kid play this with me and more in terms of is this fully appropriate.

Editing to add: so I would vote 10. And I have kids that are 10, 8 and 5 and play this with them. The ten year old could set this up and play with a bunch of her friends. I don’t think that would work well with the 8 year old. Someone gifting this to an 8 yo would miss the mark.

I think what we can try to play with our own kids is way too personal for a general rating and something most parents know without checking on BGG. I don’t think I have ever looked before trying one of my games with my kids.
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Bad Thoughts wrote:
I'm not sure if you are specifically talking about Pandemic or games in general. However, I argue often that 8 years/3rd grade is a cognitive stepping stone that allows them to play board games that are lighter, but still appeal to adults. At that age, kids are asked to do more complex reading tasks that require them to chain ideas together. Your six year old might be a great reader at his age, but he might not have been challenged to use a broader range of analytical skills, and he might not be there yet developmentally.

I also think that parents should challenge kids to think about the moves they make. This is different from giving help, rather asking them to think about the full set of circumstances. I don't find that to be overt assistance, but is more like an extension of the Socratic method, asking questions that help others to get down to the tasks and decision at hand.

That's a pretty deep reply!

I guess Pandemic is the example, but obviously toe co-op makes it a little bit of a special situation. My main question is what is your threshold to consider it a game your child is able to play for the purposes of the age rating on the site. When they are able to play it on their own or once they can comprehend the rules of the game and can play along with guidance?

To put it another way, what is your philosophy when you are voting on age ratings?
 
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Cass
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First,also play pandemic with my 7yo and 9yo. I think it a great family game, as a lot of the difficult part can be done by a single person (ie Me), leaving the younger players to just worry about their own four actions. Giving theyoungest player the generalist (with 5 actions, but no other skills) both adds to their own enjoyment (5 moves!!) and also keeps it simple for them. PLUS it is a game that requires metagaming... we have to talk to each other and plan moves.

To answer you actual question. I give rating on the age I think they 'get' the game. So, even though my 6yo technically played along with us, I think it is the 8yo that really gets it (even though a bunch of 8yos kids wouldn't not be able to play the game alone....).
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I rate on the ability to compete on their own after you explained the rules to them. Strategic guidlines are a way to improve your play but not a requirement.

Like football: Every kid will run straight to the place where the ball is. Strategywise that is not a good idea and when they realize this at some point in time their style of play will improve a lot.

But I would rate football 5+ and not 10+
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Anitra Smith
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When we do reviews, we always end up talking a bit about the recommended age range.

In general, I'd take the community age ratings here as the minimum age for kids to play without any adults involved.

For example, my 5 year old plays Go Nuts for Donuts with our family (and has since he was 3 1/2)... but he couldn't play it with a group of other 5 year olds. But I could see a group of 6 & 7 year olds play it as long as a few of them had played it before.
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Thomas M
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I generally do not vote games at all. But when it comes to age ratings I would like to represent the typical age at which a person can play the game as intended.

That would, to me, NOT be the same as able to play on their own. It could be similar when looking at 12/13/14 ratings, but for every 12 year old you find that would struggle with these games you could probably find a much younger child that could master it.

Humans are not all equally capable of grasping rules, strategy, logic, etc.
There are many 6 year olds that could beat the majority of the world's population in Chess. Does that mean the age rating should be 6+? no, because the average 6yo would be hard pressed against an adult. And two random 6yos would likely end up inventing their own rules along the way.

It is a parent's responsibility to understand the capacity of their child. It is not just as simple as looking at an age rating.

What I have done over the years with my child has been to evaluate the mechanics and overall complexity and then introduced games as I believed she would be capable of understanding how the game plays. It has worked out pretty OK, with just a few misses here and there.

Side note: I find that the printed age recommendation on the box is actually a good indication if you know nothing else about the game.
Less than 8+ : Likely not going to be fun for adults, unless you fancy roll'n'move type of random winning.
8-10: Good to go with any "BGG-child" in a supervised setting. Parent should know from skimming the rules if it can be played by the child. Themes are almost certainly family safe and requirements for reading is limited.
10-12: May require good reading skills (in the language the game is printed). Mechanics start including hidden information and decision impact is much bigger, to the point where you can throw the game if you make a mistake. Themes start being more mature. Only viable with younger "BGG-child"'s if they are experienced players and have some tolerance/patience.
12-14: Much of the same from the previous bracket but here often more mature themes and a step up on all parameters. Typically mesh multiple mechanics and require some broad experience to play well. I also found that complexity takes a big jump here. Most of these games you cannot play with casual adults either.
14+ : Experts only games. If you are in doubt about your child's ability to play such a game, most likely the answer is "no". I would not play these games with adults unless I knew they were experienced board gamers. (games in this category: Scythe, Android Netrunner, Mage Knight, etc.) I have played some of these with my 11yo successfully, but I would not recommend it to any child that I did not know would be able to understand the game.
 
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Marcus Gaessner
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I rate on the ability to understand the rules and to do a move without violation of these rules. I don´t think it´s helpful to rate the capability of understanding strategies for it depends too much on the child and your introduction to the game.
 
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