Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Reinventing Skylanders

The kitchen table might as well be in a war room with all the strategy that goes on there. My son will regularly talk my ear off, over a bowl of Crunch Berries, about Air, Water, Fire, Earth, and Tech Elements while I try to mainline some coffee into my system. He's memorized each character's stats and knows where every gate and special assignment in the game are. I love hearing all about Skylanders. I only wish his math was just as interesting.

It's times like these, in the boredom of childhood and not having play handed over to you on a playdate that a new game was born. It came into being purely through the imagination of a child looking for something to do.

It's a game born from a winter that was too brutal to even be outside. A winter that was so cold that just playing in the snow for more than thirty minutes might mean it could negatively effect your health. The game was born from pure imagination and invention and it's played without nunchuks or controllers or any kind of gaming system.

My son had friends over and they played Skylanders Trap Team. When their hour was up and they were looking for something to do, I thought I would find them turning to building or board games. Instead, they were running all over the house excitedly.

I thought at ten they were a little old to be playing hide and seek but what I discovered was that they weren't hiding and seeking each other, they were looking for Tree Rex and Hot Head somewhere in the house. They called it Elemental Hide and Seek and here's how you play it:

Players divvy up Skylanders picking by age order, youngest player picks first until all the figures are chosen for their team. You decide on the amount that each player can have as your house may be bigger or smaller.  Then, each player hides their element somewhere in the house near something that represents that element. Hot Dog was regularly near the fireplace and I sometimes found Thumpback near the toilet or Gusto near a fan. Those seem obvious but get into elements like Magic, Earth, and Undead and you can see the possibilities, they are ultimately endless.

My favorite part of the game is that everyone seems to win. When a character cannot be found, the hider can give clues to the seeker. As long as you can justify with logic why it was hidden there, you come up with how they are connected.

If both players find each other's hidden characters, it is a draw and goes into a second round. The object of the game is to stump your opponent by connecting the figure to something obscure, just have your reasoning ready to defend his or her placement.

The best part of Elemental Hide and Seek is that kids can remain in Skylands long after their screen time limit has been reached. The beauty of these toys-to-life figures lies not in the gaming but in the potential for imaginative play when the gaming system is powered down. So if you're stuck inside on a rain Spring day or you're hiding inside this Summer from extreme heat, play a round or twenty of Elemental Hide and Seek with your Skylander and be a Portal Master in real life.

If you were playing the game with your kids, which character would you pick and where would you hide it? 


  1. Okay, I love this. My kids (now 8 & almost 10) have been playing with Skylanders as action figures without being plugged in for years. I will explain this game to them and see what they say--I think it's genius!

  2. Impressive work by your son. I hope the game brings hours of fun.