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The Importance of Rules in Games

It's in the Cards

A set of rules is a prescribed guide for conduct, telling you how to proceed with your next course of action.

Rules, rules, rules! A game is only as good as its rules, and how well we play the game is defined by how well we follow the rules. What is so fascinating about many of the games we play today is that there are often no instruction books included—yet we somehow know how to play them anyway. We learn from family, friends, teachers, and coaches.

In this article, we will take a look at why rules are important and how they can make playing games more enjoyable. It doesn't matter if you follow the rules that the game came with or if you make up your own rules; it really just matters that everyone agrees on what the rules are. We'll take a look at how to avoid trouble and keep the peace, be a good winner and a good loser, and how you can settle arguments that arise in the course of playing your game. By being clear on the rules of the game, you're sure to maximize your fun at all times!

Setting the Rules

When I was a kid, we used to play a schoolyard game called Champ—otherwise known as Four Square. It was played in one large square, which was painted on the ground in our schoolyard. This square was divided into four smaller squares, with one square dedicated to the “Champ.” Because our square was a permanent one, all we needed to bring along was a very bouncy rubber ball.

One person is the “Champ” and stands in the Champ's square. How you determine who becomes the Champ for the first game is up to the players. Here's some ideas for choosing a champ: You can flip a coin, pull straws, pick a number from one to ten and have the players guess it, or go alphabetically by first initial of first name. In our games, the Champ was the Champ until beaten by another player.

The object is to keep the ball bouncing into each square using the palm of your hand. If you hit the ball outside the line, you are out and someone else takes your place in the square. The object is to get the Champ knocked out of the game, so you can move into the Champ's square. The Champ always goes first and has certain advantages over the other players in terms of scoring points and getting other players out. If another player unseats the Champ, he or she moves into that square with all its privileges and advantages.

The most interesting thing that I remember about this game is that there was always at least one kid who knew the rules—and we made up many new rules as we went along. Sometimes the new rules stuck, and were passed on to the next group of kids. The rules were always announced at the beginning of recess and the game went on through recess. Sometimes we'd pick up where we left off the day before—we'd even mark our places in the waiting line. There was always a line; after all, only four people can play at a time.

High Score

Create your own Champ playing field. Get a piece of washable chalk and draw the Champ grid on the pavement outside your house.

When you decide to play any game, it's important to establish the rules in advance. Most board games come with their own instruction books, so that's easy enough. Read the rules aloud and discuss them as you go along so everyone knows what to expect when the game begins. There are many games that are passed down to us that have no written instructions. This book will help clear up the confusion on these games, so read on, and then read out loud.

Setting the rules and getting everyone to agree on the rules is the first step to avoiding arguments when the competition has begun. Sometimes it's even fun to make up your own rules as you go along, but make sure that everyone is clear on what the rule changes are. That's the way to fair play. If you're a frequent player, keep a log of the rules handy, and add to this log as you redefine the games with new rules.

More on: Games

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Family Games © 2002 by BookEnds, LLC. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


August 31, 2014



Leftovers make deliciously healthy lunches, and save a lot of time. Use last night's dinner leftovers as the basis of your child's lunch — adding just one or two extra ingredients can make it seem like an entirely different meal.


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