There's often a debate in our house about whether video-games are keeping us chained to our various screens. However, the opposite is often true as games have inspired a variety of related sports and hobbies for our children.
Most recent of these is the invention of various games using Skylanders Giants figures. Much has been made of how they lend themselves to real-world play, but you actually need to apply some thinking to make that work.
This "thinking" is just what we've been up to and it has resulted in a new version of Chess -- proudly titled by the children "Skylanders Light-up Chess", or "Sky Chess" for short. It's "Light-up" because as well as replacing the classic wooden chess figures with Skylanders, we've also hidden a portal under the board so that on certain squares the toys magically light up.
This has led to an evolution of the rules as well. Although it started by simply matching each of the real Chess pieces with toys this soon developed into particular characters having special abilities or area effect weapons. What started as a tame strategy game has become much more involved.
As you can see above, the addition of light-up squares on the board enables the kids to deem them special safe zones. Find one of these light-up Skylanders squares and you can't be taken for two moves. This leads to all sorts of different tactics as well, like saving up the best characters in these light-up areas until the end of the game.
I think what is most satisfying about this little diversion last weekend is that it has led to a interest in real chess in our household. In fact the kids have now moved on from the novelty and bright lights (quite literally) of Skylanders Chess in favour of the classic game.
In fact, by the end of the weekend they were getting pretty close to beating me. While I'm used to coming last in games of Mario Kart or Just Dance with them I had expected to have the edge in Chess. Not so it seems and with Skylanders Swap Force coming at the end of the year, I better start practicing.