Rediscover the Benefits of Real-World Games

Rediscover the Benefits of Real-World Games

When was the last time you played a real-world game? Not Candy Crush or Facebook Cookie Jam but real life, non computer, board games? Or put together a puzzle, built an Airfix model or simply got outside with a ball or Frisbee in the park?

Take a peek at what the London Toy Fair had on offer this year. Lots of offline games to get us back on our feet and working our brains!

The Toy Fair, a trade only event held at Olympia last week, revealed a host of old favourites, as well as new, emerging games. And we found quite a few that will be on our wishlist this year, getting us back to communicating, sharing and actively socialising through play with our family and friends.

While there is nothing wrong with keeping in touch online, having a chat on Skype, playing online games and even centring your social life around your tablet or PC, have we forgotten just how much fun we can still have in the real-world? Bonding with the kids over a board game, keeping 'brain busy' with the grandparents putting a jigsaw together or simply sharing common interests and good deeds with a community game?

Take a look at our "Top Picks" from this year's Toy Fair and why we are ready now to get back to playing Real-World games.

From Brio to Hornby

There are few of any age that can resist a quick push around the Brio beech wood tracks, that make up a world of destinations on a playtime scale. With push along trains, powered engines and even track guides for little fingers to negotiate, Brio are still bringing to life the world of railways with their long lasting, durable train sets. And now they have made the move to bring in stacking buildings and teething rings. While all their tracks are tiny-tot safe for chewing on, they have filled a gap in the market and produced a range of teethers to keep the dent marks out of the game, with products available from 0+ months!

Not to be left behind, Hornby are also launching a wooden track, to start little minds on their journey up to those full scaled models. But to be competitive and challenge established wooden tracks such as Brio, Hornby need to pull something very much 'Hornby-esque' into the mix to stand out for the crowd, and keep their beginner sets in keeping with the brand.

Sneaky Cards - Play it Forward

Most of us have probably seen (and wept into a huge box of tissues to) the film Pay It Forwad, where a small boy (Haley Joel Osment) invents a game project to do nice things for strangers, and in turn ask them to do the same.Sneaky Cards Most didn't but the few that did reaped the rewards of feeling good. Well, now Sneaky Cards are travelling the globe with the same theme in mind. You buy a pack of 55 cards, register your deck online (great for those who still need the electronic attachment during a game) and start handing out your cards, whilst also logging any you receive. Geocaching in a pack!

We already have two out of four cards tracked and one we have added for tracking ourselves. My pack is in my pocket every time I leave the house because you never know when, where or who will play.

Wicked Outdoor Booma

Everyone loves to try a boomerang, but most of us are very disappointed when they don't come back, or return with such speed we are forced to duck and miss the catch. Well, the Booma has it nailed with its super soft body and perfect flight, as long as you get the throw right, the catch will follow.

Great for some outdoor fun alone (you do get a workout) or better still with the family in the garden, in the park or on a walk. Just make sure everyone else knows they are playing and not a walking target - although soft it is not something you want to purposely collide with!

Coiledspring Games

OK, this is a company that distribute high quality toys, games and puzzles rather than just a single 'top pick' game but considering the amount of choice on offer and the educational, as well as recreational element to the whole collection, we got stuck here for a very long visit!

Hannah Beeching, Marketing Executive for Coiledspring Games, walked us through their collection and we were completely hooked, although our first concern and question was 'Why do they still try to stock and distribute jigsaw puzzles?"Jigsaw Puzzles Surely they are considered old hat in the games field now?

Apparently not! Jigsaw puzzles are a great way to start out for young children, with hand-eye coordination playing a major role in the completion of the puzzle. Add to that the element of colour recognition, shape gathering and learning how bits fit together and even a simple 10-piece puzzle becomes a learning tool.

And as you get older and into the more complex pictures and higher piece puzzles you will be keeping your mind active, as puzzles also encourage brain stimulation. Additionally, puzzles provide a gentle and enjoyable way for people with arthritis to improve dexterity and exercise their hands. Add into this puzzle mix a 3D element and you will soon be building famous landmarks from the real-world and fantasy, with a great collection of iconic buildings from around the globe, as well as those made famous in books, such as Harry Potter.

And if you have ever passed someone putting a puzzle together then you may also have discovered you could be a 'closet puzzler' too. Have you popped in a piece, or stopped just to look and see if you could find one or two missing parts?

Katamino (Gigamic Games) is the perfect example of an online game, offline - Tetris in a box, with game plan combinations and different levels to complete. A great travel game option too. And there is more time to think as each piece drops because you get a set amount of parts to fit in per level.

Quoridor is another table top game that involves, like chess, getting across a board to the other side with your pawn. The rules are amazingly simple: just make it through the maze your opponent creates to get to the other side. In reality it takes a lot of forward planning and keeps you thinking in advance of your moves.

Code Master (Think Games) is a board game with 60 levels to complete, whose increasing difficulty is engaging and challenging and a very clever way of teaching children the basics of computer coding.

"For all 60 levels, you'll have to use programming logic to help your Avatar collect the Crystals and land at the Portal. Think carefully, in each level, only one specific sequence of actions will lead to success."

If you are still looking to interact online then Compose Yourself created by world-famous composer and cellist, Maestro Philip Sheppard, allows anyone to play with music and create a world-class composition. Code MasterArrange the cards in a nice visual pattern, enter the codes online and hear your piece played by a full symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios. Compose Yourself brings out the music in everyone, especially children with no musical experience, and builds new thinking skills such as creativity, expression and confidence. You can also share your composition via any social network or email. Impress family and friends!

For those who love to win and feel that they are the 'Ruler of the Game' perhaps the Mensa Award Winning Strategy Game Quarto is the perfect present. Quarto! is recognised as one of the top games of the past 30 years. It is an outstanding test of deductive reasoning and suitable for those who really rise to a challenge.

And finally if you thought dice were just for counting moves then think again. Coiledspring Games offer a large range of dice games, from maths to story telling and everything in between. For more information and to find the games you like and your nearest retailer visit

Following our Toy Fair visit last month - and after another stressful Christmas and tiring start to the New Year - I have decided to plan ahead for 2016. Instead of the mad rush for presents that comes from November on, this year I am going to book everyone dinner out, where someone else cooks the food and we all relax and have a family meal without the washing up.

And on everyone's place mat there will be a travel puzzle or game to break open with the brandy!

Contact Us

  • Phone: +44 (0) 1342 892 588
  • Email: