If your son’s playroom is a bunch of action figures, video games, and heaps of broken or unused Christmas and birthday presents, your doing it… I’ll put this bluntly…wrong. Every time your kid goes into the room, he’s going to just end up doing the same thing over and over again. Probably some mundane video game. That’s what Best Buy wants for your kid, but shouldn’t be what you want. Playing is such a huge part of a kid’s childhood, you own it to him to make sure he goes about it the right way. Every brand name toy or game you buy for your kid, you constrict his fun and creativity within another mainstream product’s limitations. So what do you do? First, start with a massive garage sale. Next, read the next paragraph.
My childhood “playroom” was the carpeted basement. It was basically just a large empty room with variable sized pillows (like gymnastic pillows), and a rubber exercise ball. From a video gamer or action figure addict’s perspective, it wasn’t much. But to me, and to the friends that I rehabilitated from mainstream gaming culture, it was a sanctum. Mainly, we’d have organized pillow fights 2v2 or 3v3. Nothing better than bashing your friend over the head with a giant pillow you can barely hold. Sure there were some cuts, bruises, rug burns, and phone calls from friend’s parents to my mom inquiring why their child keeps coming home looking like they joined an underground fight club.
I remember one time my brother decided to take part in our pillow fighting shenanigans. We all admired him so much for being able to pick up the largest pillow over his head, that is until he tossed it at my friend, flinging him backward and through the nearest drywall. We all kind of just stared at my friend, now sitting in a giant hole in the wall. After a couple seconds of tense silence, we all broke into laughter. Rather than punishing us, my mom took down the broken wall, expanding the basement playroom.
There were many other games we played apart from the spartan-like combat sessions. One time we piled all the pillows and blankets between the couch and wall. We’d then took turns squeezing down in between it all. We’d time each other to see how long it took for us to start sweating. We called it the “Ultimate Toaster.” Another game we played was making obstacle courses with the pillows and balls. For example, we timed how long it took us to run down the stairs, move the largest pillow to the far end of the room, throw a tennis ball through a hoop, bounce on the exercise ball, and finally roll up in a blanket. The last, and perhaps funnest thing we did, I highly recommend this, was sleeping-bag sledding. We’d pile all the pillows at the bottom of the basement stairs. Then we would all pile together into a large slick sleeping bag and slide down the steps into the pillows. We did this for hours and hours, days after days. Of course this evolved into us just seeing far how many stair steps we can jump down into the pile of pillows.
My friends always wanted to come to my house to play. Looking back, I know why. Because you never knew what to expect. There was always an element of risk, creativity, randomness, and of course awesome fun. The best memories spawned from spontaneous and improvised games that we came up with in that basement. Nothing exciting or random is going to happen in your video game, save maybe for some funny glitch. Get your kids some pillows and balls, and see what happens. Plus if this works, you’ll find Christmas and his birthday to be much less stressful.