For me, Christmas is all about family, being together and creating special moments with the people we love.
In our household, one of the absolute staples for Christmas, and what always goes down a storm, are new games. Good old fashioned games that we can all really get stuck into and have a chuckle over.
Of course the best games are those where we can all get involved. Young or old, competitive or not, whether you have a disability or if games just aren’t normally your thing, there will be games out there to suit any house hold. And of course we need to make sure we have them in time for the big day!
It’s not always easy picking the right ones, so that’s where Starfish can step in. We figured everyone needs games at Christmas, especially if anyone in your family suffers from a sensory disorder or disability. We’ve rummaged through our games at Starfish to find you the perfect picks to bring people together family this Christmas.
Competitive or Cooperative?
Needless to say, the choice of games out there is HUGE. But when it comes to deciding what type of game we want to play, we can narrow it down a little.
Games can be competitive or cooperative. Ultimately both types of game bring people together, and that’s what it’s all about here, but both have different benefits. Let’s explore them.
Traditionally, games tend to be competitive. Competitive games are those in which players play against one another and where one player winning means another player loses. Great for the winner, not so great for whoever loses.
Winning is a deep human need that reflects our desire to do things like secure food. Competitive games provide a safe environment for gaining this feeling without (hopefully) harmful or physical contact/combat.
Competitive games shouldn’t be outlawed. They are great for improving self-esteem, bringing people together, developing skills and challenging yourself especially when matched with your peers or to those with a similar ability.
As humans, we also get pleasure out of learning and competitive games give an honest measure for this. Getting better scores and winning more games is a clear indication of this.
The alternative to competition is cooperation. Cooperative games are a great excuse to bring people together to achieve a shared goal. Players don’t compete against each other. Instead they have a common goal so players either win or lose together.
And even if you don’t come out on top, you’re sure to have fun along the way. The fun comes from the challenge of the game, not from being the only player or team left standing.
Cooperative games exist for all ages and settings and all share certain benefits. Cooperative games teach cooperation, that seems obvious, but they have also been proven to nurture kindness, reduce aggression and improve inclusion. They are structured so that players must help one another, share, and give.
Cooperation games demonstrate to us that working together is a practical necessity, we need to cooperate to get things done. In a world where there is so much competition, surely what we need now are more chances to cooperate. Cooperative games are a perfect solution to this.
Our Favourite Cooperative Games
An undisputed classic of cooperative gaming, Pandemic’s battle against a worldwide outbreak isn’t going anywhere any time soon – and thank goodness for that.
As skilled members of a disease-fighting team, you and the other players work together to keep the world safe from outbreaks and epidemics. Only through teamwork will you have a chance to find a cure.
This is a masterpiece of prioritisation, communication, teamwork, and thinking up clever solutions to problems before you all die. Horribly, I might add.
This game is brilliant, but it’s also damn hard. More suited to families or groups with older children.
This game is such fun. Just One is a fantastic language based game for a group of between 4 to 7 players, though it is easy to play with larger teams.
Guess the words by giving one clue at a time. Players must find the best clues to help their teammates. Work together to discover as many mystery words as possible, and score the best you can!
Just one has been a solid family favourite in our house hold for years. We’ve had the kids, grown ups and grannies all crying with laughter together over this game.
Gamewright’s Outfoxed is a brilliant logic cooperative game where players work together to eliminate suspects in a crippling investigation to find out who stole Mrs Plumpert’s prized pot pie! Will you work out who the culprit is, or, will you be Outfoxed…
Outfoxed is a two for one package, it combines working cooperatively as a team and logical thinking – deductive reasoning. It is brilliant for introducing cooperation to younger children.
Players will develop skills such as estimating probability and paying attention to details.
A great game to bring all the family together this Christmas.
The Ant Colony Cooperative Game has players working collaboratively to build a continuous ant colony nest with tunnels and rooms. There are challenges that will need to be overcome, like the appearance of an ant eater which blocks tunnel entrances or rocks stopping the passage.
Visual planning and anticipating possible blocks turning up will help players decide where and how best to place their tunnel tiles.
The Ant Colony game has everyone working together towards the same goal. Players learn vital skills such as taking turns, being friendly and helpful to each other and interacting positively. It’s a great choice for families with littler ones. We love it.
Gnomes at night
Gnomes at Night is one of our all time favourite games at Starfish, and a great one to bring in for Christmas.
The idea of the game is to help each other move the gnomes to collect as many treasures as you can before the time runs out. The maze paths are different on each side of the board. The key to getting through the maze is people working together and communicating well.
This game acts like barrier game, often used in speech pathology to encourage communication, receptive and expressive language. It promotes positive interaction and social skills where also developing hand eye, and visual planning.
Our Top Competitive Games
Pass The Bomb
What counts here is quick reactions and the right word at the right time. It’s an educational word game of association and speed.
What makes this game a fun challenge is a time bomb which is passed to each player on their turn. If you are holding the bomb when it ‘explodes’, you have to keep the card. The player with the least number of cards is the winner!
We’ve also had this game out at home, with our large extended family of over 20, from 8yrs up to 74yrs all playing and laughing together!
Bring people together for the world’s fastest game. Tenzi is an easy and fun fast paced game that is sure to get the whole family into a frenzy!
Everyone gets ten dice. Someone says, “Go”. Then everyone rolls and rolls as fast as they can until someone gets all their dice on the same number and shouts “TENZI”, simple!
There are multiple ways to play this, you can also purchase a pack of cards available called ’77 ways to play Tenzi’ for countless ideas if you ever get stuck. Or, you could even turn it into a maths lesson to demonstrate probability and chance.
Dixit is a multi-award winning game, for good reason. Where most board games test your logic, wit, or even dexterity, Dixit tests your ability to toy with the imagination of your friends.
Think story telling, poker faces, illustrated cards, clues and guess work. All rolled into one. Players get points for every round they win, so in any case, the player with the most amount of points at the end wins the game.
It not only requires creativity but also some serious strategy. We guarantee this will be a firm family favourite, as it is for us.
It’s a little trickier to first get the hang of, so we’d recommend from ages 8 and up.
Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza
Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza is the fast matching, card slapping, picture game! It’s all about speed, listening and recognition.
Match the card to the spoken word. A bit like snap or Dobble, each player places a card from their hand face up. When the card matches, everyone slaps their hand on the deck, with the last one to slap picking up the cards. Whoever rids themselves of cards first wins!
Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza is sure to bring some card slapping belly laughs to your table. The best thing about it? Anyone can play!
Cortex is unique. This is a game that be play competitively OR cooperatively! What a bonus!
Challenge your brain in a fun game that tests your thinking, memory and speed. Harness all your brain power with touch tests, duplicates, logical series, mazes, colour puzzles and more.
Compete with other players in 8 different challenges. The first to win 4 brain pieces and complete their brain jigsaw is the winner.
When played cooperatively, all players take turns to solve one puzzle each. If they are correct, they get a piece of the brain puzzle to build for the team.
The great thing about playing cooperatively is that you can include younger children as well, as it’s not all up to them!
Christmas could feel a little different this year, and what better way to keep a sense of normality than bringing people together with a great game.
Games are crucial for hanging onto that real Christmas spirit of getting together with our families and loved ones and spending true, quality time.
Our selection of games at Starfish doesn’t stop here. We have loads of fantastic choices on our website, it was hard enough to just pick a few! Whatever age, group size or circumstance, we hope you find something that can add that extra magic to this special time of year.
Love Team Starfish x
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