One of the older, more traditional games that children play is the wide variety of card games that are available. Children used to be able to access card games simply because adults had playing cards, and some simple version so adult games were devised to allow younger children to join in. Those families that didn’t see cards as being ruinous to one’s fortunes saw them as being a cheap way of gathering the whole family around and having a good game. Some games relied entirely on luck, in which case children could compete on an entirely level playing field; other games relied on skill and knowledge, which were clearly more advanced for the children, but there were also varieties of games devised which mixed the two, so that whilst a degree of skill was required, or at least beneficial, there was also a degree of luck, and this could play in the children’s favour.
In addition to the normal standard packs of fifty two playing cards, comprised of the usual four suits of hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades, there were also children’s equivalents created. Some of the more basic ones simply took the idea of fifty two cards divided into four families, but instead of calling them after abstract symbols, named them after families, with recognisable surnames, thirteen within each family.
This took a further step and the game of Happy Families takes this idea into a complete character based game, and the images have always been created to appeal to children. The faces and names are all easily identifiable, and children see the people as being more relevant that the symbols.
Today there is an even wide range of playing cards styles, sets and games, from simple Snap games where the object is to match up pairs of cards as they are dealt, to Trump cards which are like collector’s packs, and allow children to use statistics that relate to either real items, such as planes or cars, or fictional characters’ abilities, and play against other children’s cards to determine who is more powerful. Trading cards have also become another popular spin-off today with children swapping and exchanging cards to build whole sets.
There are a variety of games on the market which now combine a deck of cards with a board game, Uno being one example which has been around for some time. The Uno cards are based on simple, easily recognizable symbols, with colours too, and the idea is to match up pairs, runs, sets or other scorable groups of cards and rid yourself of your hand to win.
Children enjoy card games not only because they are usually quick and simple to learn, easily portable, and have a simple appeal, but they are also reminiscent of the games their parents play, poker or bridge for example, and children like nothing better than copying or imitating the things their parents do.
Since most packs of cards or children’s card games cost little more than two or three pounds, they can prove far better value for money long term than some of the more obvious mainstream games for children.