How do we play? Games ideas for families

After a year of lockdowns and restrictions, people are calling for summer of play. Have you missed being able to play with your friends?

Do you like playing games like hide and seek outdoors, or board games and video games at home?

Artist Abigail Hunt invites you to create new games yourself. We could start by trying out some outdoor games that don’t need any special equipment.

Using your imagination and creativity, you can design your own fun games to play with your family and friends.

Introducing Abigail Hunt

© Abigail Hunt

Abigail Hunt is a visual artist. She makes collage and sculpture. She loves objects and collecting things that might have a story to tell. She also loves playing games!

Abigail says:

Playing games is really important, for everyone, however old you are. I think that when we play games we connect to a different part of our brain and our personality. Games are not only fun, but they also teach us so much about how to connect to others, how to deal with emotions and how to problem solve.

Abigail believes that we can make up new games by exploring our favourite bits of other games, and making them work differently. So let’s give it a try!

Let’s get inspired

In the V&A Museum of Childhood’s new Play Gallery, there will be a space where you can explore lots of different games and games designers. You will be able to see how changing and mixing existing game rules is the basis of game design.

You’ve probably done this before. Has your family ever changed or added special rules when you’ve been playing a board game, so that it works better for you? If you have, you’re already thinking like a game designer! 

Watch the video of V&A designer in residence, Matteo Menapace, to see him talk the process of designing new games through hacking old ones.

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Are you ready to play?

For this activity, you will need nothing! Just yourselves.

Abigail has gathered some suggestions of games you can play with just your hands, body and words. Pick a game that you like, and add or change one of the rules, and see what happens.

Keep changing the rules until you have a completely new game!

Hand Games

What games can you play using only your hands? How would you change the rules of these games?

What about adding different elements to Rock, Paper, Scissors? What would fire, air or lightning be able to do in the game?

Physical Games

These are games we have all tried playing when we have a few people and no equipment – often in the school playground.

Sometimes rules for these games change and evolve as they are being played. Do you and your friends have special rules for games like Tag, Hide and Seek, or ‘challenges’ like ‘Floor is lava’?

Can you make up a new version of these games? What about using parts of other games – what would ‘Hide and Seek Tag’ look like?

Word Games

What about games that you only play using talking, like I Spy? These are games we might play while we are waiting for something or on a long journey.

Abigail likes playing a game called ‘Fortunately, unfortunately …’. This is a group storytelling game. Each person takes turns to tell a story, beginning with ‘Once upon a time, there was a … ’ The next person continues the story with a ‘Fortunately …’ then the next person adds an ‘Unfortunately …’, and so on.

‘Alphabet categories’ is another game she often plays. Think of a category, for example: fruit and vegetables or capital cities. Then, work through the alphabet and take turns to come up with something from your category that begins with that letter. Some categories and letters are much harder than others!

There are many talking and word games, and sometimes people make up their own family versions. How might you change rules of these games to come up with your own versions?

Share your family rules and ideas for new games with us by tagging @MuseumChildhood

And don’t forget keep in touch with the V&A Museum of Childhood by signing up to our newsletter.

In part two of our blog, we will be designing our own card games to play at home. Watch this space!

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