Cooperative Board Games by Peaceable Kingdom: A Must for Family Game Night
Our love for the board game publisher Peaceable Kingdom is no secret to regular readers. Several of their family games have made our various board game lists, and we’ve taken a closer look at many of them in individual articles as well. It’s also not unusual for me to go off on a tangent explaining the benefits of cooperative board games - or to crown Peaceable Kingdom the king of the genre. For all of those reasons, I think it’s high time we took a moment to formally draw attention to the king of cooperation, and to explain why Peaceable Kingdom wears the crown in our books.
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are our own. Some of the Peaceable Kingdom games we own were provided by the publisher - always with no expectations of reviews. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Clicking on those links will lead you to view the items on Amazon.com.
My earliest gaming memory with my son will always be Race to the Treasure!. That’s why it was the very first board game I wrote about on Dad Suggests. He was legitimately terrified of the Ogre, and it was just adorable. Sometimes he tried to peek at the cards, and sometimes he tried to get us to draw for him, but that bit of fear that he felt made it very memorable for everyone involved, and it made it fun.
His imagination was running so hot it actually scared him, but he was playing and having fun in the truest sense of the words. Quite simply there are times that I want imagination and fun to take the driver’s seat - and I want to stick competition in the backseat. And I feel that way basically all of the time if we’re talking about playing games with young kids.
The Case for Cooperative Games
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of cooperative games, it means that everyone playing is working together towards a common goal - instead of working against each other to win. What this does is help set the stage for young children to simply use their imaginations - and to focus on enjoying the ride.
Competitive games, on the other hand, teach something very different. Instead of enjoying the ride, it’s very difficult with competitive games not to focus primarily on the result. I don’t think competition is bad by any means - after all, I’m a chess teacher - but it’s undeniably a different experience.
So, since cooperative board games make it so much easier for kids to focus on the journey of the game, I think they’re a natural choice for introducing children to games, and for teaching them the most important point of game night - having fun together. As they grow older they’ll understand the appeal of competitive games too, and they’ll be better equipped to focus on the joy of simply playing - win or lose.
From a teacher’s point of view (a teacher who teaches a board game for a living no less) I’m sensitive to the method used in introducing a new concept to kids. If you love games and your heart is set on having a family game night - I strongly recommend beginning with cooperative family games.
It strikes me as a very risky prospect introducing a child to games solely through competitive games. There’s just too high a risk that they’ll come away with the wrong focus about playtime entirely. The risk is real. They might end up loving the thrill of the competition - but it might stress them out and turn them off completely too.
Cooperative games also provide the perfect environment for sharing your hard-earned knowledge with your kids. In a cooperative environment, it’s actually encouraged and beneficial to openly share all of your ideas, strategy, and logic - making game night a very effective learning opportunity while minimizing stress and pressure. And since everybody wins or loses together, the obsession with winning and losing is 100% removed.
Learning Empathy From Board Games
Peaceable Kingdom describes its mission with the following quote:
Peaceable Kingdom creates award-winning gifts that inspire cooperation and cultivate kindness - because kids who play well together play well in the world.
Is it any wonder they’re one of our favorites? Not only are they promoting cooperation, but they’re cultivating kindness through board games too? You may have noticed that empathy is quite the buzz word on Dad Suggests. We often write about picture books that teach empathy to kids. So it should be no surprise to anyone that I was very excited about the concept of exploring feelings and emotions through board games for little ones.
Of course we were always well aware of the cooperation piece of their mission statement, but the empathy piece was actually a recent realization for me. But, looking back, I suppose we were always helping someone when we were playing our favorite Peaceable Kingdom games. Maybe we were trying to get Mama Chicken’s chicks back to her in Count Your Chickens!, or maybe we were trying to help the mole rats escape the snakes in Mole Rats in Space. But when I saw that there were board games from Peaceable Kingdom specifically designed with empathy in mind - it was like a match made in Heaven. Who knew I could love these guys any more?
A great example of this type of game is Friends and Neighbors: The Helping Game. Our little girl loves to play this game. It’s a matching game where you have to match a friend in need with the item that will help them. Maybe you need to get a band-aid for someone who fell down - or an umbrella for someone standing in the rain. What really matters is that our 3-year-old beams with delight when she helps someone in the game, and it warms my heart.
I prioritize empathy and compassion as a dad - it’s the #1 thing I want to pass on to my kids. I think that the way we connect with each other and the way we treat each other is a very large part of the meaning of life. I would consider it a very significant disservice to a child to raise them without empathy, because I don’t think they’d be properly equipped by a long shot to get the most out of life and the relationships they form. So of course I’m going to fawn over a publisher with a mission like this that helps us raise happy and kind kids.
Our Favorites from Peaceable Kingdom
If you want a closer look at some of their fantastic games, and if you’d like to read more of our thoughts, we’ve mentioned Peaceable Kingdom now in many different articles on Dad Suggests:
Race to the Treasure!
Mole Rats in Space
Gnomes at Night
5 Board Games for Fantasy Lovers
The 5 Best Cooperative Games for 5-Year-Olds
The Best Board Games for 2-Year-Olds
And we’ve also gotten our hands on many new games since then, many of which (like Pick Me Up Piggy!) we are already confident will appear on our future list - The Best Board Games for 3-Year-Olds.
At this point we’ve been enjoying many of these games for several years, while some have captured our hearts in just the last few months. We’re very familiar with the games our kids grab again and again, and I’m well aware of the ones we parents legitimately love to play too. So if you’re looking for a good place to start, these are our 10 personal favorite Peaceable Kingdom games:
I’m very thankful that the people at Peaceable Kingdom do what they do. Cooperation and kindness are very noble goals to build a business around. As a dad I feel like they provide me with the tools to make a positive influence on the lives of my kids in many ways at the same time. Not only do they make high quality games to involve the little ones in family game night - but they even find the time to cultivate a few of the most important life skills along the way.