Most of the people we talk to in Maryland, Virginia, or DC about putting together a game room have children that will also use the space. We love the traditional "man cave", but most families have a mixture of adult and children's activities in their basement or bonus room. Today we are going to break down the most popular and user friendly game room games by age group. This is a good way to future proof game room purchases and get more years of fun out of your investments.
Under Five Years of Age: If you have young children at home the game room is often either a place to go to escape for more adult activities while the kids are asleep or a giant toy filled rumpus room. It is difficult to keep small kids occupied for long but there are a couple of exceptions. If you don't have one already get a small to mid size flat screen TV on the wall and buy a game system like the Nintendo Wii. Not only can you and your not so grown up friends have fun playing Video Games, it is a great way to keep the kids occupied if you want to have a poker night or squeeze in a few games of billiards. At this age most kids will not be able to grasp the "point" of traditional table games, but they still like to be part of the action.
Five to Eight Years: This is the golden time where you get to influence your children's interests for possible the rest of their lives. Most kids have developed sufficient motor skills to start participating in games like Table Shuffleboard, Billiards, Air Hockey, or even Darts! The key at this age is to start them slow, usually on a stool or with help from mom or dad to hold the Puck or Pool Cue. Shuffleboard Tables are easier for most kids to get the hang of because all they have to do at first is whip the pucks from one end to the other. A set of Bowling Pins will help this quickly become a favorite activity! Don't get discouraged if the kids still want to veg out in front of the Video Game System. If you take the time to show them how to play traditional games correctly and take breaks when they get frustrated you might be surprised how quickly they get hooked.
Nine to Twelve Years of Age (Tweeners): At a time where we begin to loose our kids undivided attention to the glut of media and outside peer influence there is still a place to go for real family time: the Game Room! If you spent time when they were younger including them in games and teaching the basics this can be the most fun you ever have in your recreation space. Think about it, now they are old enough to play ping pong, shoot a game of pool, even throw darts and even win once in a while. In a couple of years they will be teenagers and much less interested in hanging out with Mom and Dad on a Saturday night. This is the period where many parents invest in a real lifetime game room activity like a nice slate pool table or hardwood shuffleboard table if they have not already. Once kids are hooked on these games the tables will see a ton of use over the next ten years.
Teenage Years: This can be a tough time to get kids to hang out at home, especially with you! Parents who always had a game room at the house often find that their teenagers end up spending time with Friends at home, especially if the years have added plenty of fun activities. You might be left out sometimes, but as one father told me recently, "It is worth every penny knowing exactly where they are, even if I can't use my own Pool Table"! This is the time to add more skilled games to your space, especially Foosball, Darts, Poker, and Arcade Machines. The key to keeping the game room fresh over the years is adding more challenging and competitive games. Remember to invite yourself in once in a while to show those kids that Dad and Mom can still kick some butt in their old age.
College Age Kids: This is possibly the easiest time you will have enjoying your game room with the entire family. College kids home for the holidays or summer are drawn to the parents game room like flies to dung. Paying a dollar a game to shoot pool at college is a great way to get them to appreciate how good they had it at home all of those years. Now that they really think they are good at these games you will have some pretty heated competition as well. This is the result of centering your family activities at home around traditional games and not just video games and movies. Trust me, you will never keep up with new video games like a college kid will, but the rules of Foosball didn't change over the winter. In fact, you might want to get some new cloth on your pool table or pick up a new pool cue before they get home, no way are you going to lose on your own table after all these years!