Cooperative Games are a fairly new board game genre.
We LOVE them because they get everyone interacting positively, encouraging and helping each other rather than competing against each other.
For those who find the tension rises when playing board games as a family, or even amongst friends, then Cooperative Games can be the solution.
For those who find themselves wishing their children would play together nicely rather than fighting all the time, Cooperative Games are the key.
For those who want to nurture participation and social skills, then Cooperative Games are the answer.
What are Cooperative Games?
A cooperative game is a board game with a difference.
Everyone still takes turns, everyone still has to play by rules. The difference is, all the players work together to win the game.
We find with the removal of the competition between players, and, if you like, everyone being essentially on the same “team” that all of a sudden the players are helping, encouraging and supporting each other.
What are the benefits of Cooperative Games?
- the pressure is removed. Most cooperative games have all the players teamed up to achieve a mutual goal to ‘win’ the game. Everyone either wins or everyone loses! This is a REALLY good thing for the child who puts themselves under all sorts of pressure to win or doesn’t cope well if they lose. Learning to play a game without pressure, gives them the opportunity to learn and enjoy all the benefits of playing a game with others.
- all the players are working collaboratively. Children interacting positively – helping, supporting and encouraging each other.
- social skills can be modelled, developed and practiced in a natural way, and in a small group.
- game playing skills can be modelled, learned and practiced. For example, taking turns, ‘coping’ when faced with a little bad luck, or not showing off, praising or consoling others.
- good for all including those with Autism, Anxiety, ADHD, ODD, Learning Difficulties, Communication difficulties, Beginners and for playing with mixed ages.
- ice breaker. They are a great no-pressure game to use when first meeting someone. They are great for developing rapport. I often use cooperative games during sessions with children and young people from a trauma background or with challenging behaviour.
What are the Best Cooperative Games?
We have put together our favourites below, in increasing order of age recommendation.
Count your chickens is a cooperative game for beginners. It is VERY simple – try and save as many chicks as you can before the Mother Hen makes her way around the board (but beware the fox). It best for younger children learning to count).
This game is one of my favourites for younger children. It certainly was the answer for my 4yr old grand-daughter, who took a while to learn how to play games. Hoot owl hoot was the game that helped her to learn to take turns, work together and play by the rules.
It is no wonder it has won lots of awards. This game is a simple beginner game and uses colour matching to make the moves around the board. No need to be able to count.
This is a cooperative game based on learning manners. It is simple way to introduce social situations and work out what would be the appropriate way to behave. Players need to help the 2 pigs get to the farm by learning manners on the way.
Feed the Woozle is a cooperative game that requires a little hand eye coordination and fine motor skills. It is great for occupational therapy and can adjust to suit 2 to 6 players. It is very popular with Occupational Therapists.
A beautiful game that has the players working cooperatively to help the three mermaids swim to mermaid island before the Sea Witch can get there. Pick up a wand and you’ll have the power to defeat the Sea Witch!
This game is really good for memorising, story telling and imagination. Players create silly stories abut 27 animals who take over the palace room by room.
The fairy game is more complex than it first looks, and there is a bit of strategy involved for the team (players) to work collaboratively on. This is a good one for those children who need a bit of a cognitive challenge but also work on their social skills.
Dinosaur Escape is a straight forward and quick cooperative game. The idea is to save the 3 dinosaurs before the volcano erupts. There is a little luck involved but also players need to remember where the key dinosaur chips are. We tend to modify the rules a little when we play, to make it a little more challenging. But it is a good one for the dinosaur-mad.
Ant Colony is a cooperative game for the scientist and all those find ant colonies intriguing. Players need to get all the rooms in place with at least 2 clear pathways before the ant eater beats them to it. It doesn’t take long too play, so it is a beauty if you only have 10 minutes. It is helps develop visual planning skills. This is a really popular game amongst the children that come to tutoring at Starfish.
I LOVE this game. It is one of our all time favourites. It is more complicated than the ones mentioned above and it uses logic and deduction to try and work out which fox took the chicken. Think: junior version of Cluedo!
Dog Man Attack of the Fleas
You can’t go wrong with this cooperative game if your children are into the wildly successful Dog Man Book Series. Together, all the players must work together to save the city. Players need to use their shrink ray, invisible spray and chopper to stop the brontosaurus.
This is one of our all time favourite family games. It is sort of like Articulate, only everyone works together to discover the mystery word. Players need to come up with clues that help but are not too obvious. Cannot recommend this one enough – if you have 4 or more players.
Whozit is a hilarious cooperative party game. Take turns trying to figure out the character based on the ratings given against 2 clues. It is a really funny game that will get you thinking and talking for sure.