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EMarley

Playing Broken Age with children

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My nephews are playing Broken Age. They can only play in my house since it doesn't work on their computer, so they've been at it for months, a little bit every couple of weeks or so. But still, I've never seen them so engaged with a narrative before! They're so excited about the plot twists and love to speculate about what's next.

You know how it sometimes takes a while to further connect the dots after watching the Act 1 cliffhanger? Yesterday my nephew finally went: "Oh! Ohhhhhhhh! I get it! The maidens being kidnapped... that was us, picking up the cute little creatures!", utterly mindblown. It's a joy to see them appreciate storytelling on its own sake, rather than the hype/merchandise aspect that kids are brainwashed with these days.

And I relished being able to explain to them why Vella was calling "the hexipals" maidens. Thank you for helping bring feminism to my nephews' lives, Tim <3

Also, they find the game scary, but in a way they're enjoying. Yesterday they saw Marek take off his mask for the first time and they yelled, lol.

They need help with the puzzles because they're too young to solve most of them, but I mostly just nudge them along. For example, once we picked up the snake I recommended they use the Spoon on the Mayor again, and after explaining to them what "constricting pressure to the abdomen" means, the younger one thought of using the snake.

Oddly, my young teenage nieces have been way less interested in the game, but they're also going through a "I'm a teenager therefore I hate everything" phase and know less English than my nephews do.

Any similar stories?

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Update: we've arrived at the wiring puzzle (so close to the end!) and my nephews are really excited about it. They've drawn the diagrams, next session they'll try wiring the thing correctly. Also, my younger nephew suggested using the ice-cream on the screen through which you communicate with Marek because they were tickled by the idea of throwing ice-cream at Marek's face, but the elder one refused because "if we show him the ice-cream, he'll know we were able to leave the room!". The younger one also ships Shay and Vella, although he didn't say so in those words xD

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We haven't been able to continue the game these past few months because of summer holidays keeping us busy with other things, but I introduced the game to the cousins of my nieces (age 8 and 4) and they were loving it! We tried playing with a controller instead of a mouse and I was blown away by how fast the younger one picked up on it. They don't know English and only the older one can read the Spanish text, but it was enough for her to find the jokes funny.

The best thing was when they met my nephews and they talked about Broken Age together. I forbade my nephews from spoiling the game to them, but they were so desperate to talk about the plot details with someone I let them spoil one of my nieces (age 12), who had already declared herself uninterested after trying out the game. So they told her all about the connection between Vella and Shay's world, and my niece told me: "Well now I want to play it! It got really interesting! If that's what the middle of the game is, the ending must be great!" We'll see how all that works out, but mostly I'm impressed that my nephews are so enthusiastic about the game's story they want to talk to other people about it, recognise how good it is to the extent they ask me if it is okay to tell someone about it first and obey me when I tell them not to, and understand it well enough that they can explain it coherently to someone not all that familiar with it. This has never happened with anything else!!!! Seriously, my nephews go to the cinema, I ask them what the movie was like and what was it about and I get nothing! But with this!!!!

Also, my nephews have nicknamed Marekai "Mr. Volcanohead".

Related, I saw a video review of Broken Age focusing on the educational aspect:

 

Edited by EMarley

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My nephews finished Broken Age! They did their own diagrams for the wiring puzzles and worked out the correct patterns on their own for all of them, I just explained the principle to them at the start. Also, my elder nephew is a natural musician, and got how to translate the musical notes into scarf stitches straight away.

They were completely freaked out by the Thrushmaster, when he appeared they yelled and covered their eyes, and tried to leave the conversation with him as quickly as possible. I asked them if they didn't want to question him about everything the Thrush had been doing, and they asked me to do it while they stood at the opposite end of the room. However, once they heard Vella address him as "President Ugly", they laughed and joined me to watch the rest of the conversation, although the elder one kept his hands near his face in case he needed to cover his eyes again, and the youngest held on to my arm the whole time, ready to hide his face in my shoulder if he needed to.

One the Mogs crashed, I informed them they were close to finishing the game. Of course, they said, because Vella and Shay were finally close enough to meet. "Are they going to kiss?" the youngest demanded to know. I didn't answer, but the eldest kept his hands close to his face during the final scene, ready to cover his eyes in case they did. Although he did also ask: "Is she going to hit him again?"

As usual, they felt very proud whenever they worked something out on their own, such as when the eldest realised he could use the flashlight-waving pattern to make the hexipal bang the drum with the hammer, which was the one puzzle I didn't work out on my own when I played the game (it was 2am, and I was desperate to see the ending, so I looked it up, ok?).

All in all, they loved the game, want to play it again, and wish there were more games with the Broken Age characters. Youngest nephew asked if there was at least a video of Alex, his favourite character, when he was younger. And between the ending credits drawings and the artbook, they've discussed the world of the game and its lore a lot. They wanted to know why was the hexipal shape was chosen, instead of say, circles, so I explained to them the idea the artists had of how they could stack and form solid walls. Circles wouldn't be able to do that, triangles and squares could, but hexagons are more interesting shapes than those. They also clocked immediately that one of the backer portraits looked like Alex, and started inspecting the rest of the portraits to see which one must have inspired the look of Marekai. I explained to them why Alex was a special case.

I encouraged them to do some art. I also sat down to doodle with them, including one of the spork bouncing around the knife exclaiming "Uncle Dutch! Uncle Dutch!". My nephew said that I should change Dutch's grumpy expression to a happy one, and of course I complied. He also informed me that the spork baby of Stanford and Lorraine must be called Lordain and be both a girl and a boy.

Anway, here's a photo of the art of Mog Chothra older nephew did from memory, and the "Martian Shay" by my younger nephew, whose concept art he was really taken with:

 

 

kids broken age art.jpg

Edited by EMarley

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Thanks for this amazing write up of playing Broken Age with your nephews! It's so great to hear! :)

I wish I could give them some more Alex content, but we don't have any. How about this video of the real Alex talking at PAX? You could tell them that after he got back to Loruna, he founded a video game company called Harmonix and lived happily ever after. (Loruna and Boston do have a lot in common... :D)

 

 

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On 30/9/2016 at 0:48 AM, Tim Schafer said:

Thanks for this amazing write up of playing Broken Age with your nephews! It's so great to hear! :)

I wish I could give them some more Alex content, but we don't have any. How about this video of the real Alex talking at PAX? You could tell them that after he got back to Loruna, he founded a video game company called Harmonix and lived happily ever after. (Loruna and Boston do have a lot in common... :D)

I'm glad to have given you even just a window into how much Broken Age has meant to me and my family! I haven't shown my nephews a video of real Alex yet, but when I do I'm sure they'll get a kick out of it.

We began the game from the beginning yesterday, they chose to start with Shay. By their own volition, this time round they're seeking out all the responses, doing things like saying 'no' to all the cereal choices, waiting to see everything the Spoon says before picking him up, and seeing all of Shay's responses to his failed attempts to jump into space while still being attached to the air hose. Lots of giggling with all of these things. They're enjoying playing scenes with the benefit of hindsight, going "a-ha!" when Marek stops Shay from seeing the creatures on board, and "that's Vella!" when rescuing the second batch of creatures. And next time we'll switch over to Vella's side to see the events of the story so far from her point of view.

Also my younger nephew, who isn't much of a reader, has spent a lot of time poring over the artbook. Learnt two new words yesterday thanks to that: "combining" and "environments" :)

There's a very endearing and enthusiastic Let's Play of the game on a channel that's about gaming videos for kids, at the end the player declares it her favourite game ever.

 

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More artwork! And another funny story: my two-year-old nephew was watching the game on TV as his older brothers played. When Marek took off his wolf mask, he spontaneously exclaimed: "Oh my goodness! It's a monster!", sounding pretty pleased about it. Another convert xD

CIMG3477.JPG

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LOL!  Shay is having pretty much the same reaction I did to Marek: Whaat, indeed!  So fun to see fan art from little kids!

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