January 24, 2013

Through the Window: POV

My January post is up at Gem State Writers (here) -- this time on POV and seeing it through a child's camera.

January 17, 2013

Comparison of Kids' Games

Ever since Christmas, I've been playing a lot of board games.  Lots and lots.  All designed for little people.  This is by no means a comprehensive list of board games designed for kids -- but it's the handful we've been playing.

Cootie.  This is one I played as a kid.  It's super-simple.  Roll the dice.  Obtain the corresponding bug part.  Build your bug.  Run around the house and play with the cootie bug afterwards.  My kiddos have been playing this one for some time.  They learned some pretty handy board game skills -- like taking turns and rolling a dice.  (Dice-rolling, I learned, is counter-intuitive.  If you need a six to win, why would you try to get a six by dropping it, instead of setting it on the right face?  We used a cup to roll the dice for a while).  Super-simple game, cool components.

Candyland.  Players draw a card on their turn and move to the next spaces the matches the color on the card.  There are some special cards that transport the player to a particular spot, and some spaces that do good or bad things.  The hardest part of this game is figuring out which direction is forward on the twisty, wiggly path cutting through abundant illustrations.  But I think the illustrations are also a large part of why the children like the game.

Sequence for Kids. This is my favorite, and the reason I decided to write this post, because I'd never heard of it before.  I thought it would take my kids some time to learn, because it's a more complicated game where playing actually requires strategy (Cootie and Candyland are completely random).

Each player has a hand of three cards. Each turn, they play one card and place one of their chips on one of two corresponding spaces on the board.  The first to get four chips in a row wins.  There are four free spaces, and two special cards: a unicorn that allows the player to play anywhere, and a dragon, which allows players to remove a chip.

Everyone learned the rules, if not the strategy behind winning, quickly.  I was pleasantly surprised at how this worked for both ages in my house.  The youngest just plays whichever animal he likes best.  The 4yo has caught on that the choices he makes influences the outcome of the game.  He's still learning the strategy, but he's abundantly fond of blocking people.  Cootie was a great game to learn some basic game-playing skills on and have a good time, and I feel Candyland is in that same vein.  This game feels like a great first step into strategy.  And because there's strategy, it's one I'm happy to play over and over.

Hungry, Hungry Hippos.  No taking turns.  No strategy.  Just chaotic marble-chomping.  I don't know why, but there's something oddly relaxing about lever-mashing and hoping for marbles at the end.  Kids think this is hilarious.  Lots of fun -- which is, after all, kinda the point of games.

Anyone have some favorite kid's games?

January 2, 2013

Near Future SF

Last year, my short story "Under Warranty" was published in Cucurbital 3.  The main character, an embezzling AI, is trapped inside the circuitry of a baby mattress that monitors its occupant's vitals as a preventative for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). 

I'm happy to say that the future is coming faster than I thought, and my story may not be science fiction very soon.  Today, I saw this video:

Very cool.  I hope the Owlet monitor is available soon.