The Best of The Dad Game
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The Best of The Dad Game

How board games can help you build communication and connection with your kids

About the Book

As a parent, you want a solid relationship with your kids, right? Build a bond that’s strong and flexible, that connects and carries you through the tweens, teens, and into adulthood? 

Yup, me too. And this book can help you get there.

As a young parent of two delightful kids, I had no clue what I was doing. I screwed up a lot in my attempts to connect, especially when the kids entered their tween and teen years. Spending time together suddenly got harder. I can’t count the number of times that “let’s sit down and talk” ended with everybody angry and someone near tears (often me).

That's where games came into the picture. When my kids and I played board games together, we (almost) never fought. Instead, we breezily talked and joked with each other. The only tears happened when we couldn’t stop laughing together. Shocking, right?

Something amazing was happening, and it all started with with a struggling dad, a couple of frustrated kids, and some extraordinary board games.

After spending several years digging into academic research on family communication, family lesiure, shared activities (like playing board games), I launched The Dad Game, a newspaper column to share what I learned and give families hands-on advice in making this stuff work.

This book contains the best of my columns so far. It covers the basics (like why this stuff works and what the research says) along with game recommendations and reviews, inspirational ideas to help you build better connections, and plenty of other helpful info.

I'll keep adding to the book as time goes on. I'm about to pass 50 published columns and still going strong, so I'll have plenty of material to draw from into the future.

Here's to connecting with your kids and building the kind of memories that will keep you warm for years to come. Let's play The Dad Game!!

About the Author

John Kaufeld
John Kaufeld, M.A.

John Kaufeld makes complex things easy and helps parents -- especially dads -- learn to connect with their kids through board games. He's a best-selling author, speaker, trainer, consultant, board gamer, dad, and all-around geek. And he loves every minute of it.

He started writing as a high school stringer for The Republic (Columbus, IN). At about the same time, he expanded into radio as a weekend DJ for WWWY Radio (also in Columbus, IN). In college, he scrambled for stories as the weekend news anchor for WLBC Radio (Muncie, IN) and the afternoon news editor for WBST Radio (the Ball State University PBS station).

Back in 1993, John wrote in the popular "...For Dummies" line of computer books, eventually churning out 25 books about America Online, Microsoft Access, computer games, tabletop games, and more. He continues writing today. (He was even part of the team that whote the Game Design Merit Badge Book for the Boy Scouts!) His 33 books sold more than 2.9 million copies in 15 languages around the world, earning him the "best-selling author" badge.

Over the years, he worked in information systems, system development, corporate training, customer experience, communications, and marketing for organizations including a multinational biotech company, a national trade association, a regional bank, and a high-end manufacturing company. He is currently the chief communications officer for Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW).

Along the way, John wandered into the social game industry. As a kid, he and his father played many rounds of Hasbro's "Monopoly" (consistently using the wrong rules), and actually finished the game two or three times.Then he discovered German board games (also known as "Eurogames"), and his gaming world -- and parenting style -- changed forever. He owned two game stores in the past (and dearly misses the world of retail -- really, don't ask or he'll go on forever).

These days, you can often find John's work in The Dad Game parenting column for the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. He's often found in the board game areas at Gen Con and other game conventions. He indulges in "Puerto Rico," "7 Wonders," "Settlers of Catan," and just about any train game that wanders past (especially Empire Builder). If you see him, definitely say hi. After all, he never bites. (Well, at least not since the therapy.)

Table of Contents

  • In the Beginning…
    • Where the Trip Started
    • And Then There Were Games
    • Why I Kept This Short
    • Let’s Do This Thing
  • You’re Not Doing It Right!
    • Oh yeah, I said it.
    • Focus on fun
  • When the Time Is (or Isn’t) Right for a Game
    • Checking everybody’s moods
    • Looking at the clock
  • Four Secrets to Finding a Great Family Game
    • Type of competition
    • What’s right for your family?
  • Feeling Strategic or Lucky?
    • Where does your game live?
    • Finding the sweet spot
  • Fun by the Minute: Secrets of Playing Time
    • Start where you are
    • Blink: The one-minute game
  • What Multi-taskers Can’t Tell You about Family Time
    • Stop trying to multitask
    • How to focus
  • Why MONOPOLY Sucks for Family Game Night
    • The evils of player elimination
    • A more balanced approach
    • Remember your goals
  • Better Games Make Better Family Time
    • A word about chocolate
    • Frustration in the big-box toy aisle
    • Welcome to Eurogames
    • Keeping all of the players involved
  • How Eurogames Build Better Family Time
    • More strategy!
    • Better components
    • ‘Replayability’ is your new favorite game word
  • More to Cost Than Price
    • Where to start
  • Why We Love Evergreen Games
    • Wonderful, beautiful evergreen games
    • Carcassonne: A great first evergreen
  • Settlers of Catan: Board Gaming’s TV Star
    • Settlers of what?
    • An ever-changing board
    • It just keeps growing
    • Getting started
  • Resolving to Be a Better Dad, Two Dimes at a Time
    • Change #1: Your time
    • Change #2: Your Patience
  • Changing Rules and Having Fun
    • Rules, schmules - let’s play
    • But… RULES!
    • Remember the goal
  • Checking on Your Two Dimes Resolution
    • A quick review
    • Honest check-in time
    • Focus on your next good choice
  • Cooperating Instead of Competing
    • Indirect competition for more fun
    • Turning toward cooperation
    • Matching games by age
  • Free Games to Play at Home and Away
    • What you need to play
    • Abs-Trac-Toe
    • Catego
    • Great for travel
  • Tricks to Teaching (and Learning) a New Game
    • Learning from a (video) friend
    • Teaching yourself
  • Learning a New Game Without the Angst
    • It’s time to unpack
    • Find the rules
    • Meet the pieces
    • Find the goals
  • Building a Framework, Figuring out the Rules
    • It starts with a framework
    • I’ll take the overview for $100
    • How to set up and win
    • Working through the turns
    • Going for a test drive
  • The Gentle Art of Teaching Others to Play
    • Begin where you began
    • Keep the rules handy
    • Helping children teach
  • Classic Games for Your Summer at the Lake
    • Small, fast, and easy to learn
    • Packing plastic cards
    • Adding some dominoes
    • Getting fancier
  • Better and Bigger (But Still Little) Lake Games
    • Rolling on the lakeside
    • Using with your words
    • Going for the party
  • Gaming Your Way into College Friendships
    • A word of explanation
    • On with the list
    • And then there’s this one
  • Getting Started with Playing, Parenting, and Programming
    • It’s all about solving problems
    • Starting young
  • Playing, Parenting, and Programming for the Tween
    • A quick review
    • No brakes! No brakes!!
    • Bringing it together
  • Playing, Parenting, and Programming: It’s Time for a RoboRally
    • Meet RoboRally
    • Programming your robot
  • Making a Merry, Game-filled Holiday Season
    • Picasso-style gaming with Abs-Trac-Toe
    • Rolling some dice
    • Right, left, or middle
  • Top Party Game Picks for the Holidays
    • Sharing your thoughts with Choose One
    • Making a silly sale with Snake Oil
    • The race is on with Camel Up
  • Good Times Galore in the 2014 Gift Guide
    • Stocking stuffers
    • Under the tree
    • For your favorite only child
    • Have a wonderful holiday
  • Last-minute Thoughts and Gifts to Wrap the Year
    • Games are for playing
    • Give the gift of your time
    • Some last-minute game ideas
    • Happy holidays!
  • Two Dimes for 2015
    • Keep moving forward
    • Starting tomorrow over
    • Two-dime time
    • Family fun, games, and more
  • The Serious Side of Good Family Fun
    • Simple and complex activities
    • But where does communication fit?
    • Playing together builds communication

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