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Family Game Night fun for all ages
Power down the electronic games, TVs and computers, and head down to Yuma County Main Library for some old-fashioned fun at Family Game Night on Mondays.
From toddlers to grandmothers, people of all ages can interact with each other and meet other families while playing board games ranging from favorite old standbys like Chinese Checkers to new games such as Headband.
There is even a group-friendly, non-violent video game for people who aren't entirely ready to ditch the electronics in exchange for other ways to develop educational skills and hand-eye coordination while having fun.
Chances are that even they will become board game converts before long. After all, many people who first attended Family Game Night in order to check out the hot, new video game have wound up preferring to play board games, says Elia Juarez, Youth Services library assistant.
The most popular board games are Pictureka and Headband, the latter of which isn't strictly a board game, she says.
“You actually put a headband on your head and face the picture outward, and the people have to give you clues so you can figure out what the picture on your headband is. It's like a silly (version of) charades.”
It will probably come as no surprise to those from the pre-electronic game era that Operation is also very popular.
“It's an old standby, and I don't know if the kids actually play it correctly half the time,” Juarez says. “It makes noise, so they always have fun with that.”
Game night enthusiasts also like Scrabble, Apples to Apples and a Harry Potter game, she says. But a wooden Tic Tac Toe game and Checkers are among the favorites.
“Very simple games seem to be very popular, but not necessarily because the players are smaller,” she says.
Library staff provides Chess for older kids who request it, but because game night is limited to an hour, they don't put out games such as Monopoly or Pictionary that take a long time to play.
Family Game Night is a new program that was implemented early this year to target tweens — children between 6 and 12 years old — but it quickly became popular with younger children, teens and adults, too, she says.
“We've got 16-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and I've got a 72-year-old who has become a regular. She comes with her grandchild all the time.”
Juarez, who created the program, thought starting a Family Game Night would be a good way for kids who don't normally socialize with each other to get to meet each other, and for their families to get to know other families.
Given this modern age of electronics, the library staff was pleasantly surprised by the response to the new program.
“We've gotten a fantastic response,” Juarez says. “It's one of our more popular programs.”
But at first, Family Game Night was off to a slow start, with only seven people attending, so the library staff used a video game to attract kids who might not even know about some of the board games.
They chose Just Dance, a video game of music and dance, because anyone of any age can play, it's not violent and they hoped it would attract a larger group of people.
“And that's exactly what happened,” Juarez says. “They came out to check out the video game because that was the hot new game on the market at the time, and it was expensive so not everybody could afford it.”
But then they started noticing board games and puzzles, she says. “Now when they come in, they mostly go to the board game tables, and I'm getting less and less people that play the video game.”
Board games tend to be interactive, so families can spend quality time together during Family Game Night, she says.
The program also draws more people to the library.
Although families in the vicinity of the library typically participate in programs because the location is convenient, “Family Game Night brings in people from farther away who would not necessarily come to the library, who might not be able to attend our after-school programs, but who can come in the evening,” she says.
An average of about 40 to 45 people, with a fairly even ratio between children and adults, regularly attended game night during the summer.
The program is on Mondays from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Children's Department in the Yuma County Main Library, 2951 S. 21st Drive.