We were left a wonderful comment on our Facebook page today, the type that warms the soul a little. A mother went out of her way to show her gratitude to our player base for how they'd accepted her son into the gaming group and how he looks forward to leaving the house to play Magic the Gathering in Ramsgate.
It left us feeling thoughtful, about all the aspects of gaming that we take for granted and it took me back to when I first started gaming and I examined the life-skills that Gaming helped me develop along the way.
We just had to share it with you!
"Words can't describe the gratitude I have for this shop and the Wednesday night gamers (huge thank you to you all), my son is an autistic 12 year old who found an interest in magic but has major social anxiety issues. They have not only encouraged him in playing they have given him confidence and a place to go where he feels safe and has fun - seeing him come home grinning from ear to ear and actually wanting to leave the house is priceless."
- One Happy Mother
So, what do we think the benefits of gaming are? Well, we've summed up the 5 biggest skills we believe children develop through gaming.
1 - Mental Arithmetic aka Quick Maths
Maths and quick calculations appear time and time again in just about every type of game we play at The Grumpy Goblin. It's very predominant in Trading Card Games where the ultimate goal is to bring your opponents life total to zero before they can do the same to you - different games have different sums, Yu-Gi-Oh deals with maths in the order of hundreds whilst Magic: the Gathering sticks to lower numbers; however the outcome is all the same.
Playing Games helps you to calculate quicker and more accurately, from the simple maths of adjusting life-totals in games through to more complex calculations to work out averages in Table Top Wargaming. The number of times you're faced with an in-game decision to roll 20 six sided dice knowing you'll hit on a 4+ then wound on a 4+, but they also have an armour save of 5+... So how many wounds would I inflict!?
After a while they become second nature, you know that line of action in the game will inflict about 3 wounds, so you go for it. And you roll all 1s. Well, can't account for variance all the time...
2 - Team Work Skills
Not all games are competitive against other players, there's a huge number of co-operative board-games which focus on the players working together to beat the game itself and the narrative of Roleplaying Games is a group of friends telling a communal story together about the adventures and heroics of their characters.
Team work doesn't come naturally to everyone, and indulging in the type of games that align victory with the ability to work well with others can motivate even the most competitive lone-wolf to open up, communicate and plan with others.
3 - Communication & Social Skills
All of the games we play rely on explaining what you're doing to the people you're playing with, it's at the very heart of gaming. If you're playing Pokemon TCG you'd need to explain which energy card you're attaching and which Pokemon you're switching out from the bench. In war-games you'd need to communicate your plans of action to your opponent & friends in equal measures.
Roleplay games are perhaps the most communication intensive as you're using your words to create mental images for everyone playing in the game with you, it's an open canvas for you to develop.
4 - Strategic Thinking
The Stanford Marshmallow experiment offered participating children one marshmallow immediately, or a greater number of them at a future time. People choosing to take the extra marshmallows in a couple of hours over the immediate sugar fix were profiled later in life and found to be over-all more successful. What if that type of strategic thinking could be developed? Well, it can!
Games require thinking several steps or turns ahead of the present moment to maximise your chances of winning, as players get better at games with practice they naturally develop that style of strategic thinking which is then transferred to daily life.
You'd be amazed at how that can manifest - for me, it was first the understanding that doing my homework quicker meant I could play another game later on, and as a side-effect it also meant better marks as I wasn't rushing it just before bed!
5 - Creative Thinking
Roleplay Games are about a shared narrative and story told by all the players and overseen by one member of the game referred to as the 'DungeonMaster'. Each player brings their own thoughts and representations to their character, that means the freedom to develop whole worlds between you, to create a back-story to your character and to interact with the stories of your fellow players.
Trading Card Games often require players to build their own deck - the group of cards with which they'll play the game. The deck you build is an expression of your effort and players enjoy tweaking their decks week after week in the pursuit of continual improvement. This encourages creative thinking as players seek out new ways to use cards.
If you or your children are interested...
The Grumpy Goblin is on 90 Queen Street in Ramsgate and we consider ourselves to be specialists in having fun. We stock a wide range of Trading Card Games including fan-favourites such as Magic: the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon TCG. We also stock Roleplay Games, Games Workshop and
We run weekly events which you can find out more details of in the Grumpy Goblin Events Calendar.