They have been there all along: We have the answer to screen time

Many of us feel we spend too much time staring at screens.

In our time-poor world, families often find themselves trapped in an endless cycle of video games and social media scrolling.

‘But Muuuum, games are really fun’ we hear from our children.

‘I don’t get to see my friends as much as I would like so this way I can see what they have been up to’, we tell our children.

Springfield’s Neal Barton agrees games are fun, and having contact with friends is also important.

He has come up with the perfect solution to most families’ problem.

“A lot of computer games are based on table top games,” Mr Barton said.

“We started Springfield Gamers to get families, young people and adults to spend time together playing games and having fun.”

There are no computers there, but there are plenty of games.

The gaming club play all types of board games, collectible card games, role-playing games and table-top games.

Mr Barton’s love of games can be traced back to his childhood.

“Since I was eight years old in 1988. My older brother had some games that involved crawling around in a dungeon and fighting dragons. We also played Hero Quest,” he said.

“I was the annoying little brother who wanted to play.”

Mr Barton enjoys the social element of playing games and believes it is important for children to learn.

“They learn to take turns, how to follow a set of rules and how to socialise,” he said.

Springfield Gamers like to focus on inclusive games that everyone can play right up until the end.

“In games like Monopoly, people would get booted out of the game and would sulk off into the corner. We try to avoid those,” he said.

Mr Barton would like to encourage anyone to come along to one of the club’s monthly meetings and have a go, even if you have never played before.

“We have game masters who can show you how to play. Each meet we have a demo of the day which can range from party games, to modern board games through to sci-fi miniatures games with intergalactic cyber-humans fighting vicious aliens on some far-off planet,” he said.

“Whatever the imagination leads to.”

Springfield Gamers meet once a month at the YMCA Springfield Lakes Community Centre, 53 Springfield Lakes Blvd, Springfield Lakes.

They can be contacted on email or follow them on Facebook for more events outside their monthly gatherings.

Meeting dates for the rest of the year are:

Sunday 16 June, 11.30am

Saturday 20 July, 11.30am

Sunday 18 August, 11.30am

Saturday 14 September, 11.30am

Sunday 20 October, 11.30am

Saturday 16 November, 11.30am

Sunday 15 December, 11.30am

The first session is free, casual attendance is $10 per day and Membership is $60 per year.

Types of Games

Board games

Typically come in a box with everything needed to play.  Games typically take from 10 minutes to 2 hours to play, but the more serious hobbyists can be found deep in strategy for 4 hours plus.  ‘Euro games’ are also popular, where players collect resources, place workers, build things and who is in the lead is often not clear until the points are tallied at the end of the game.

Games can also be co-operative where players work together to beat the game. Catan, Pandemic and Carcassonne are modern board game staples, but members try to play more unique games, new Kickstarters and complex games dealing with more strategy than luck.

Party games

Like Codenames and Exploding Kittens are often played for quick fun to start the evening or in between heavier games.

Collectible card games

Typically involve collecting cards and building a deck of 60 plus cards.  Players play three matches to win a game. The big names here are Magic: the Gathering and Pokémon. Great for younger players and those who enjoy fantasy artwork.

Role-playing games

Imagine being a character in your favourite book – what choices would you make? Where would you go to explore and how would you solve problems? RPGs are run by a games master who is the narrator, whilst the players (voice) act the role of their characters to complete quests and improve said characters.

Table-top Games

Players build kits of warriors, vehicles, cavalry, aircraft and more. The table is turned into a battle-ravaged city or a European village and players use their miniatures with dice and a tape measure to complete objectives or eliminate the opponent. Currently popular are: Warhammer 40,000; Infinity; Kings of War.

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