Saturday, October 24, 2009

Game Day: Family Matters

Family Matters is the get-to-know-your-family-better board game from Better Indeed LLC. Unlike most of the games we play, it's not a competitive strategy game, but a more cooperative game with a goal that reaches beyond the end of the game.

The Basics (from the box):

  • Ages 6 and up

  • 2+ players

  • Game time: 30 minutes

Game Objective (from the website):

Players pile into the family car, taking turns driving through town, responding
to questions and/or tasks along the way. Once everyone has driven, the car races
toward the finish line (Weekend Wish) to see whose idea of family fun will soon
come true.


How the Game Works:

Players share one game piece--a car--as they travel around the game board. Players take turns as the Driver of the car. The roll of a die determines which type of card is played:

  • Funny Bone cards have amusing tasks that all players complete. These are things like "Draw a picture of the person sitting next to you" and "Have each player tell a funny story about the family." Everyone gets a turn to participate in this.

  • Me, Myself, & I cards give the Driver a chance to share about himself. For example, one card asks, "If you could prevent one thing from happening in your life what would it be?"

  • My Favorite Things cards have the Driver ask a question (e.g., "What is my favorite day of the week?") and Passengers--other players--answer it.

  • Fake Family Crisis cards ask the Driver to assign roles to Passengers, who--in character--discuss and resolve the crisis. Each of these cards has two related prompts--one for a young person and one for a parent. For example, one card has these two prompts: "You are 12. A classmate's stolen book bag was found in your locker ..." and "You are a parent: Your 15-year-old witnessed a crime and was asked to testify ..." In the course of a game, each player has an opportunity to lead the family through a Fake Family Crisis.

After each player has had a turn as the Driver, the game piece (car) can approach the end of the road. The player who rolls the die and brings the car home gets to choose a "Weekend Wish"--any reasonable, family-oriented activity--which the rest of the family fulfills.

Observations: It's easy for families to fall into a routine in which we spend time together without ever really talking about anything substantial. The Family Matters game is an excellent conversation-starter. As I said at the start, it's not a competitive game that requires players to plan strategy several moves in advance. It's very worthwhile in an entirely different way.

As a parent, I appreciate that some of the Fake Family Crisis cards are flagged to alert adults to review the content for age suitability. (The card I quoted in the example is one of the flagged cards.)

I also appreciate that the game includes some blank cards so that families can create their own questions and situations. More opportunities to interact and expand the game are available at the Family Matters site.

For more information or to purchase the Family Matters board game, click here.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the Family Matters board game, at no cost to me, for review purposes.

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