Games and toys provide a way for children to explore different ways of thinking, moving, and intereacting with friends and family members. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find the perfect item for your child because the manufactures' recommended ages is often not correct for gifted children. Additionally, games that look exciting from the box, can be repetitive after one playing. That is why NAGC traditionally runs a recommended toy article in the September issue of Parenting for High Potential.
2012 Annual Toy Testing
Center for Bright Kids Regional Talent Development Center
CBK Write-Up Participants: Sadie, Kai, Alex, Byron, CJ, Benjamin, Anlan, Conrad, Aria, Kristen, Sergey, Jason, Julia, Jennifer, Elly, Scott, Ian, Cameron, Tate, Garrett, Grant, Kaleb, Eliza, Tae, Max, and Kees.
This year’s NAGC toy testing was conducted by the Center for Bright Kids (CBK) summer GLOW program, which is a two-week residential program for students in rising grades 6-8. Over 50 students participated in testing games sent to us by manufacturers. In addition, CBK received a number of young player games (ages 3-6), and put together a testing group of 6 students entering first grade gifted and talented center schools, who worked through 12 of those games for testing.
The group of testers was children who enjoy playing board and card games in their down time. Some favorites of these students that were not included in the testing were:
- Apples to Apples
The Testing Process
The 25 games were broken up in to five categories: role-playing/strategy games, word games, games of chance, 3-d construction games, and problem-solving/ general play games. The kids were allowed to choose their own groups for each game and which game they wanted to play. After all the games had been played, the top eight games across categories were picked for an additional session of testing and evaluating, and from these, the top four games were selected.
Highest Rated Games by Category
Of the role-playing/strategy games, Lords of Waterdeep was found by the testers to be easy to learn, but hard to master. They also found it easy to set up. Strategy varied from game to game, which was appealing to the testers. Compared to other role playing games, the kids found game play to be shorter in an appealing way. The students also felt that it was much easier to learn than the other role playing games.
Of the games categorized as “word games,” Sentence Buildings was the top choice. The testers liked that you could make “weird random sentences.” They also enjoyed the free form nature of the game and found that the variety in word-choice made for entertaining game play.
In the “games of chance,” Rapid Reflex was the favorite among the testers. They explained that not only did you have to think, but that playing the game was just plain entertaining. They also found that game to be funny to watch too. Overall, testers found the game easy to learn and simpler than other games in the category. This made for a quick setup so that game play could quickly begin again.
From the 3-d construction category, Tridio Twist was the clear winner among the testers. They said it was similar to many other shape building games they had played in the past, but that having to match colors as well as shapes made it interesting and engaging. The game required a lot of patience, and may need a higher age-rating, but the consensus was that it was much more fun than many other “building/shape games,” and stated, “This game really makes you think—really rewarding when you actually get a puzzle.”
In the category of “problem solving/general play games,” IQ Twist was a favorite. The kids enjoyed that it had a lot of levels and was a little more adult than many of the other options. They found it to be challenging, which they liked. Troy was a close second for similar reasons.
In young students’ games, Pathwords, Flingin’ Frogs, Don’t Rock the Boat, and Rapid Reflex were category winners, driven both by the ease of set-up and learning the game, as well as the overall giggle factor and desire to play it again immediately rather than testing another game.
Overall, the favorite game was Lords of Waterdeep, which kids fought over to test—a good sign that the box design is working. The testers liked the flexibility of interacting with other players and how the game changes as different people play. They found the game to be difficult to explain to a new player, which like other role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons, should be learned by playing the game. What really put it over the top was the way players had to continually change their strategy based on the actions of the other players. This game also drew the most observers from other activities who wanted to watch play and regularly earned A++ in each round, including the final champions.
IQ Twist was also one of the most popular games, particularly for single players. Testers liked that it can be very difficult, but that it is also multi-level so that the difficulty can be adjusted. The students found it to be a “smart game,” which is something these kids look at for as entertainment value. They also pointed to the way you can flip the pieces around the pegs, creating varying combinations. One student explained, “IQ Twist is a game that boggles the mind, and is suited for one player, any time, anywhere!” Their deepest concern with this game is that they might run out of puzzle challenges.
Young students rated Don’t Rock the Boat as their overall favorite, with Flingin’ Frogs in a very close second. These were both great group games and both drew the comment, “I love it so much – this is really fun!” Don’t Rock the Boat is a balance game similar to “Don’t Spill the Beans,” but the pieces and strategy push this one to the top of the testing pile in terms of basic appeal and level of challenge. Flingin’ Frogs offers kids the chance to pop plastic frogs from the table onto different levels of lily pads to gain points. The hilarity is in discovering the correct pressure on the frogs’ popping tabs to gain control over where they fly – until then, frogs are screaming through the air, over heads, and across the table. We believe this was probably the part the kids actually enjoyed the most.
CBK overwhelmingly heard from students, “We should do this next year.” All the different categories were enjoyed, but despite being a very popular category for this group of kids, only one role-playing/strategy game was really enjoyed at age level. Gifted children are able to play and enjoy playing games manufacturers intends for older audiences.