The Best Alternative to Video Games: 'HeroQuest' and Tabletop RPG
Kids, families - and adults - these days are plugged into Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft home console boxes like never before. For good reason: the graphics are vivid and the games are compelling and immersive. There are also titles to suit most taste and inclination: dance and fitness, creative, open-world adventure, indie platformer, puzzlers, pure action shooters, educational etc…
However, many parents grew up in a time before video games were less immersive. It was a golden age of board games and hands-on, tabletop Dungeons & Dragons RPG. Friends sat together listening to music (on vinyl, cassettes or disks), painting small figurines and making maps for adventure ‘quests’ we’d then play out together. Games like... Heroquest.
If you're stuck for activities to find for restless kids, and TV time needs limiting, then it's time to check out games like Heroquest, or their more modern equivalents. The beauty of them is that each time you play there'll be more variation than with other, more traditional board games. It was also one of the most accessible RPG games that would otherwise put off a lot of busy kids.
Heroquest (from Games Workshop and Milton Bradley from the late 1980s) was a nice and simple D&D Role-Playing Game for younger kids. You get to play either as the good forces or the bad. The good player chooses from the Warrior, Elf, Dwarf or Wizard, with varying strengths, or Attack and Defence points. You can play as one or all of these heroes, but one of your fellow players must be the bad guy, who must try and stop the others from completing whatever quest he/she dishes out. Not only do they get to assign the quest, but they control all the enemies (including monsters) and the Quest Map, wherein the heroes are thrown, without knowing what’s in store.
It’s great fun, and the good guys really must work together to survive anything the dark Games Master can come up with. Dice, paper and pencil, figurines and playing cards are all involved in deciding the outcome of each adventure. There are set maps, or you can design or customise your own in advance. You can improve the game with some new rules if you wish.
We feel It’s worth promoting these top tabletop games again today, where the older generation face an endless, daily battle to limit TV or screen time. But in their attempt to pass on their old experience of these more hands-on fantasy games to their young and often overly imaginative kids, they’re finding out that... it’s pretty easy.
Kids are, after all, very immediate and hands-on, tactile, social individuals. They enjoy making things of their own they can share with others and test out. Designing game-maps are just that: partly drawing, partly designing, inventing and then playing out to see what happens.
In fact, more than ever these old RPG and board games are a great option, are still popular, and are highly recommended. They fill a very important period of personal growth from age 7 to 10 and older, before these kids get lost (forever?) to the more easily accessible, technologically-based fantasies inside screens and headsets.
Like their parents, one day they may even treasure those board game memories over many virtual ones.
Hopefully this post may lead a few of you down the rabbit hole of (RPG etc) tabletop board games to fantasy lands of the imagination, where instant interaction and collaboration can thrive. There are titles widely available on Amazon or many RPG websites but unfortunately, Heroquest itself is hard to come by (although there is the Heroquest Classic website.)
Spending time together is just as important today as it ever was, and there are things that technology may never replace. So... good luck on your next adventure, where parents too can have fun joining in a quest (or instead take time out, having won a small battle of their own!)