Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames

Friday, March 31, 2006

BGTG 54 - April 1, 2006 - New Gamer and Gamer Dads (with David Gullett)

[A technical complication meant this show took the longest to pull together, but I'm pleased to say it worked completely. If you want to read the audio editing story, check out the boardgamepodcasters mailing list. -Mark]

This is a combination show, an interview with David Gullett that's about being a boardgame newbie, as well as about playing games with your kids. It's in the latter context that I met him when we pre-arranged some games for us to play with our kids at a SoCal Games Day. The last time he came over to my place with his boys to play some more family games, we took some time to record this podcast. The first third or so is about being that latecomer to this hobby, discovering it through a websearch in 2005 that led him to Then we get to talking about playing games with our kids. Finally, we get the kids themselves on the air.

This is a subject I'm finding myself increasingly interested in, bolstered by the success I'm starting to have with my own family. Remember the dialing-it-back, family-focussed plan for my hobby in 2006? I think it's working. That's a future show in itself. David is having even more success earlier with his family, and you'll hear why. He's a very fun character who's making good decisions as a parent. He makes me wish I could turn the clock back and do the same with my family four years ago!

This show didn't have the same sort of outlined script I usually use. David's other hobby is amateur improv comedy, so the lack of an outline presented no problem for him. I'm not as quick on my feet, and upon listening to the show I think I jump around a bit more, interrupt myself and fail to finish my sentences sometimes! Hopefully you can get the gist of what I'm saying when I try to relate German children's games to movies like Spy Kids. Honestly, it makes sense to me but maybe I didn't finish the explanation in the podcast!

David is the first one to claim the title of Guest Host on BGTG for the part of this show when I sign off and he interviews his kid & mine at the same time. A podcast original! (For boardgame podcasts, anyway!)

The show was originally recorded way back on March 4, but it took me this long to get it out. If you make all the way to the end, I think you'll agree this publication date is appropriate. :)


P.S. A fun little gaffe when David mentions The Dice Tower as competition to BGTG, and I say "I don't consider them competition." What I meant to say was that I don't consider podcasting a competition, of course!

David Gullett's profile on BGG (davebo)
His many family-focussed Geeklists
True Colors (the game that led him to BGG!)
Games for the lunch hour: San Juan, Attika, Jambo, Lost Cities
Too geeky for work: Colossal Arena, Dungeon Twister, Memoir '44, Heroscape
ItsTime4Games podcast
Games we played with the kids: Diamant, Loco
German family games: Midnight Party, Gulo Gulo, Igloo Pop
American family games: Clue, Sorry, Careers, Life, Smarty Party Jr., Apples to Apples Jr.
Jake's favorites: Heroscape, Puerto Rico, Bang!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

>> I think I jump around a bit more, interrupt myself and fail to finish my sentences sometimes!

I'm sure that had more to do with me constantly interrupting, Mark, than anything else!

2:03 PM  
Blogger Jasen said...

Great show guys. The feedback bit at the end was hilarious and the feedback/interview of the kids was great too. Keep 'em coming !

Mark, Samurai's almost online at MabiWeb... Are you a fan?

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fantastic episode.

The ending was hilarious (although the reference to Super Munchkin as cool was very funny too).

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You both mentioned that at a games day you both get more uptight with your own children than you do others. I wonder...could it be because you see their actions as reflections on you? Maybe you're worried that while you OK letting kids be kids, others aren't, and you don't want your children to irritate those less tolerant folks.

Just a thought.


10:23 PM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

Could be, Dave. It's not just with games, I get more tense with my own kids (compared to others') over sports, school concerts, just about anything. I don't turn into an ogre or anything, just notice that little loss of patience in myself.

For those of you that are parents, think of the experience of going to a restaurant. There are parents that let their kids do whatever they want, peering over the seat at other people, talking loud, or tossing cheerios. Other parents keep the kids in line, taking them outside if they cause a fuss. As you might expect, I've always been the latter type. No regrets, either. But it probably relates to this uptightness with games, too, and there I need to relax a bit more.

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mark,
Yet again, another insightful episode of Board Games to Go. Now that my daughter is 11, I've found she has been very much into and not into games at various stages of her young life. I try not to pressure her to play games, and sometimes while we've been on holiday, she's had friends over and I've taught them games like Bohnanza and they loved it! So much so that her friends were begging for further games throughout our holiday, almost to the point of me having enough of 'that game'. But in saying that it helped Ainsley realise that, yeah, games can be 'fun' and sometimes 'cool'.
My problem is getting her to learn games that are new. Usually she is just unwilling to try new ones and when we do sometimes they might be just a little too complicated for her tastes (latest example, reef encounter) and they bomb. Occasionally I find a successful game (traumfabrik springs to mind as the latest example) that she adores. How do you decide what is a suitable game to teach your young ones?
I find her quite a worthy opponent especially with games she knows well (Ra, Hera and zeus), and I've found it does help to play games with a bit of a luck element to throw a bit of chaos in my plans. Sometimes I must admit I *do* play not to my optimum (probably 75-80%) but I do like to make the win difficult so she can celebrate that she 'did' play well.
I don't know whether she'll play games as an adult unless cohersed by her dad, but I like to dream that one day she'll have fond memories of playing games with pops and maybe even buy some games (or inherit my own) for her kids or friends to play.
As to the impatient thing...I too suffer from this, but not just in games but also, like you Mark, in most things. I think it's because I too want to try to get the best out of my kids efforts, and to parent them along in lifes learning curve as we try and nuture them and pretect them from harm.
My next child is only 8 months but I'm hoping he will also enjoy this hobby.


12:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I to am the "sit in your seat and stop bothering people" kind of parent, but what's interesting is that when some other little kid is staring at me at a restaurant, or walks up and looks at my plate of fries, I think it's real fun. I think I'm just a bit uptight. But, I also have very respectful and fun kids, so, I guess I'm doing ok.

As far as what's suitable for my kids, I just kinda feel it out. Luckily, my oldest boy is into games and likes some pretty deep games. But, then my 8-year-old will surprise me and do what he did last night, ask for Elfenland. My 6-year-old is a bit young and gets left out (during these times I tell her she's "computer princess", and gets to use the computer all on her own), but I do make attempts to find games that all of us can play.

I think the thing that's led to the most success is what I said in the podcast "we're playing a game as a family, you kids pick a couple of games from my collection, and I'll choose from those two". Lots of grousing, but they always end up having a good time.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

Oh, see? It really bugs me when other kids misbehave at a restaurant. And it's the parents that bug me most, in that case.

However, this all came up in the context of games, and what I noted then was that I don't mind when someone else's kid is distracted or silly. Not like the kid's own parent is! :) Then again, maybe there's something to the idea that the gamer-parent is so concerned about proper behavior at the game table that I ease up. I know someone is taking responsibility, keeping things from getting out of hand. And it's not me--it's never a good idea to tell someone else's kid what to do when the parent is there.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Always - Great Show!

At Houston Social Gamesters we encourage the kiddos to game with us. Co-Founder Carol's son, Zach, was 8yrs when we started gaming. He's now 12 and is a formidable opponent. He's also able to win and loose with both grace and humor.

The following is an outake of a reference file on our group site for Members' information:

Gaming is a good interactive social outlet for both children and adults. As mathematician, Frank Armsbuster declared - "Play a game, get a brain!" Gaming utilizes the brain, encouraging it's growth in many areas - it fires the neurons in both our right brain and our left brain. Recently numerous tests have found that these are the activities that keep our brains younger. Gaming teaches and refines many skills, i.e., following rules, fair play, listening, patience, cooperation, adapting to change, problem solving, decision making, consulting others/discussion, coping skills, helping others/teamwork, communication, friendship/caring, sharing, fine motor skill, thinking skills, observation skills, logic, planning, strategy, imagination & creativity. Additionally it teaches good sportsmanship - how to both win and loose graciously and with humor. Overall, Gaming can build self-confidence.

Many of the older children are quite capable of being formidable opponents. Most are quick to learn new games, and would usually prefer to sit with us and play a game vs the game boxes that are so popular. We like to see the children playing games, and hope that they enjoy when they actually do sit at a table and play.


Keep up the Great Work...

Founder, Houston Social Gamesters

7:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great show Mark! I only dream of my girls (16 and 12) playing games without being coerced into it. I even delude myself into thinking that if I leave them lying around they may become curious...nope. The endings were hilarious. I will not be re-listening to your podcast with me. Ever. This is one of my favorites...okay Dave's was pretty darn good, too. Odd how the people that have acting experience make the most entertaining guests. That's just me, I guess.

1:08 PM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

Thanks, Greg. But you're too modest--the show you did with me was one of my episodes nominated for a Board Game Internet Award!

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think my favorite moment, now, from ALL of your podcasts (so far, anyway) is that financial guy leaving you the loan information message on your voicemail!!!!

And before you groan, "Great, scooped by a guy I don't even know... so much for all the work I put into my content..." know this: the main reason it works so well is that

a)you set it up beforehand during the show,

and b) you had those other "joke" calls as an additional set-up/diversion.

That you also saved your closing music for this (and brought it under, even) is just the bonus gravy. I was absolutely giddy when I heard this, 'cause it wasn't just funny, it was slick, savvy, professional.

GREAT work, Mark.

5:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great show, but before you put that little guy on the show again, I think you need a disclaimer for diabetics. Seriously, kid should be in radio. Charming lisp on the little guy. :)

3:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Playing catch-up on my podcasts, I'm late to this party, but . . .

What a great show!

That point where dave is talking to the two boys was so good. Before then and after then he didn't, but during that bit he sounded *exactly* like Ira Glass. I expected hearing the "music stops; pay attention to what's said" hook.

I also laughed at the "made them cry" bit. Just this weekend I played Settlers and my girl cried over her initial placement, and played Citadels and my boy cried when I picked "magician" and he had a great hand. Handling the crying kid syndrome well is a skill any gamer dad has to develop!

6:14 PM  
Blogger Twkw said...

I absolutely love the dynamic between the two of you. I look forward to more shows like this. It was at most times, laugh out loud funny. The anecdotes about Midnight Party were priceless. Thanks for the great listen!

1:40 PM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

I'm glad everyone has enjoyed this show. I'm even going to burn it to a CD and have my wife listen to it! :)

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I can't tell you how much I am enjoying listening to this podcast episode (I'm about 1 hour into it), and to all of your previous episodes too!

My kids and I played MB's old BERMUDA TRIANGLE game last night and experienced the same type of situation that Dave mentioned in his "MittersnachtParty" anecdote. My 7 yo daughter ran away crying when the cloud ate her ship (but my two 5 yo boys loved the sinister nature of the gameplay).

Keep up the great work Mark....Your podcast is the best. I don't get the chance to play board games as much as I'd like, but your podcast kind of lets me enjoy the hobby vicariously.

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed most of this podcast, but I wish you'd spent more time talking about games to play with your kids and less time complaining that your wives won't play games with you. The comment about how you'd doubt the taste of any woman who went home with someone she met at a Game Day over the edge of ironic into ridiculous.

If you don't want to be a member of any club that would have you, that's your problem. Just don't complain that there aren't enough women who play board games and then characterize those of us who do as freaks with poor taste in men.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forget exactly what we said, Tayefeth, but I believe we were speaking less about women's taste, and more poking fun at the men at gaming events. I believe the spirit of the comment had to do with men at gaming events not exactly going out of their way to be attractive in just about any way.

As far as talking more about gaming with kids, I've always glad to have people hear me speak :) . Maybe after a while Mark will have me back, when I've gotten some new perspectives on the subject.

11:18 PM  

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