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Games Online and Off

When friends and families gather, take online games into the real world for fun for all ages.

As we look forward to end-of-the-year gatherings, it is sometimes hard to think of ways to involve the whole gang in fun and memory-making. Adults and kids alike can retreat to their respective technologies, whether smartphones or gaming devices. Why not take the rules, strategies and skills used in online games to have some "offline" fun?

The most popular online games are often just reworkings or outright replicas of the games that have been played for generations. The top 10 games at the Apple app store or in the video game sections are often reworks of card games, puzzles, board games or group games like tag or cops and robbers. Get everyone in the game by trying to take the game from the small screens of their digital devices  to the real world for some active and cross-generational fun.

For the little ones who love Angry Birds

For the little guys who love Angry Birds, why not try a ring or bean bag toss game? If necessary, you could even print out color images of the games' characters and cover the targets. The game play isn't complicated in either instance but there is the satisfaction of hitting the targets and racking up points.  

For the co-op military game player

Time for some Capture the Flag if the weather is good. As you might remember from your own versions of the game, all sorts of rules can be invented to complicate the basic game of two teams vying for the other team's flag and protecting your own.

The addition of a few Nerf guns can add more challenge and replicate the action of the military games. If the weather is more challenging, maybe make it a day for Laser Tag. Two local facilities are Shadowland Laser Adventures in Franconia and Laser Zone in Woodbridge. If your group is a little more hard-core, Pev's Paintball is a bit of a drive to Aldie but is serious in its gameplay.

For the Wii Sports enthusiasts

How about a real bowling experience? Great for multiple generation groups where Grandma might be able to show off her skills earned without the help of a "Wiimote." We have a number of great local lanes that are fun no matter the weather. The satisfying sound of pins being knocked down and waiting for the ball return is sure to be fun for kids and adults alike. This is a family activity that is accompanied by a snack bar, something that can appeal to everyone at the holidays.

All the world loves a card game

Are your holidays going to be celebrated in a non-WiFi zone? A deck of cards has helped families and friends pass countless vacation hours. Even solitary players know the rules of solitaire thanks to their smartphone apps. For more competitive players, penny poker can bring out the card sharks while rummy, hearts or spades can be taught to younger players for a lifetime of easy fun.

Tetris addicts get in the game

Tetris players can take the skills learned in the game to games such as Jenga, pick-up sticks or even dominos. These tactile games add another element to the gameplay that is sure to appeal to the puzzle addicts. For that matter, less speed-dependent jigsaw puzzles are a great way to have quiet fun either cooperatively or for the solo player.

For the Draw Something experts

Kids who have never played charades or Pictionary might find that hours spent playing Draw Something on their portable devices has made them excellent clue-givers or solvers. Balance the teams between younger and older players and you give the teams some balance when dealing with pop culture or technologies that might be too young or too old for the other team member to guess.

Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Yahtzee go online

Sometimes playing offline games online can be a way to get everyone in the game. No worries about missing pieces or arguments about whether a word is usable when you play online. Your favorite board games can be fun to play on a game console. Hasbro's Family Game Night is available on all the game platforms and includes classics such as Scrabble, Boggle, Sorry, Connect Four Yahtzee and oddly enough Battleship. Another game that is fun to play online and without the need for the little pieces is Trivial Pursuit.

Have fun over the holidays

Games help you have fun, relax, tap into your competitive spirit. They also help build closer bonds through cooperation and shared memories. Taking the time to enjoy each others' company is the best gift we can give and receive when we gather together.

Wishing everyone fun and happiness during this wonderful time of year!

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