“Mmm, it’s got new game smell!” or The Joy Of Raising Gamer Girls

One small section of the game room. Image: Nicole Wakelin

My husband is an avid gamer and I’ve become a bit of one myself over the years, so it was only natural that my kids would become gamers, too. It wasn’t something we tried to do, more something that just sort of happened.

Every family starts off planning things that are born from what Mom and Dad enjoy. It’s not that we don’t want our kids to find their own paths, but that we naturally want to share the things we find interesting.

If you were big into the outdoors before the kids, likely your kids were hiking before they could walk via those snazzy kid-carrying backpacks. If you’re a bookworm, you likely read to your kids a lot and they’ll be dying to learn how to read on their own. And if you’re a gamer, then pulling out a board game is the perfect way to spend time together.

My husband with all the games, GenCon 2013, Image: Nicole Wakelin
My husband with all of the games, GenCon 2013, Image: Nicole Wakelin

My family falls into that last category. I blame my husband because he is a hardcore gamer. Really, the man eats, sleeps, and breathes games. He hosts The D6 Generation podcast which reviews games and interviews game designers. He has so many games that they spill out of his man cave like lava and there are always a half-dozen work-in-progress minis being painted in his game room.

I didn’t start off a gamer, but became one because of my husband. Gaming is one of those things that, once it gets you, sucks you in for good. Kind of like the mafia, but without the guns and cannoli. Although, I bet there’s a game out there with guns and cannoli that we just haven’t found yet.

So, when my girls were born, they were playing games right from the start. They started with the games that all the kids play like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders. We happened to have a Dora the Explorer Candy Land and let me go on record here saying that I played that more times than is sane and I have PTSD issues related to that perky little child.

My daughter made this for a school project! Image: Nicole Wakelin

We moved on, as quickly as possible, to other games that you couldn’t find in the average big box toy store. These were the games you could only find in an honest-to-goodness local game store. Now, my kids ask to go to the game store every weekend and who are we to say no?

They’ve also experienced the joy of opening games and the New-Game-Smell that accompanies the event. If you’re a gamer, you understand, but if not, you are confused. Let me try to explain.

New Game Smell is that first whiff of untouched goodness that emanates from the box the second you remove the lid. It’s a combination of cardboard and ink and if you hold the board up to your nose it can make a gamer giddy.

Sometimes there’s a hint of plastic, but only a hint, and if you’re lucky there’s also a good dose of freshly cut wood. This would come from the meeples or other tokens rolling around the box. This is New-Game-Smell. In fact, I can smell it now as my husband sets up Rampage, freshly un-boxed, which we will be playing later today.

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Rampage, freshly unboxed. Image: Nicole Wakelin
Rampage, freshly unboxed. Image: Nicole Wakelin

The other day we had dinner at a restaurant that we’ve been to many times and they handed us new menus. You could tell because they were super shiny and had none of the creases or sticky spots that eventually end up on every menu. These were pristine.

My eleven-year-old opened up her menu, looked at it for a second, and then held it right up to her nose saying, “Mmm, it’s got new game smell!” This led to all of us holding the menus up to our noses to get a good whiff. She was totally right, and despite the odd looks from the surrounding tables, it was a proud moment.

My daughter the gamer. Your training is now complete.