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Why I Took My Kids to Origins Game Fair

We started our summer off with a bang by heading out for a road trip the morning after the last day of school. Both of my kids were buzzing with excitement even though they didn’t fully know what our adventure would entail.

What they did know was it would involve board games and a long drive from outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Columbus, Ohio.

Family road trip in the 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring.

We received media badges to attend Origins Game Fair. We also received a 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring to test drive on our trip. This post contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if you make a purchase.

Why I Took My Kids to Origins Game Fair

Earlier this year, Brian and I discussed finding local gaming conventions to attend. A friend recommended Origins Game Fair, which I wasn’t super familiar with, but I recalled reading a little about it a couple years ago.

My main concern was whether or not it was family-friendly. Well, more importantly, kid-friendly.

Since it looked like a great fit for our geeky gamer family (plus our Stay-At-Home Gamers family gaming project), we applied for and received press/media badges to attend. My husband and I definitely wanted to go, we just needed to decide if it was going to be a family trip or not.

We’ve taken a family road trip to Ohio before, so we knew the kids could handle a full day of driving to get there.

But why would I take them? Well, there are many reasons why I wanted my kids to experience Origins Game Fair with us.

Making Family Memories

Confession: I frequently wish I could teleport from one destination to another. However, travel is part of the experience when we take a trip. There was a time when the mere idea of driving all day with the kids was enough to stress me out. Now, we know how to make it work.

Exterior of the 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring before taking a road trip.

We spent a lot of time together in this vehicle!

It gave us the opportunity to bond as we talked about where are going, what we saw out the window, and even mini geography lessons as we crossed state lines.

Although we were on the way to a board gaming convention, we still enjoy video games. The Nintendo Switch was helpful to keep the kids entertained for the last few hours of the trip. Gotta love the 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring’s handy USB ports for easy device charging no matter where you are sitting!

Also, I loved the idea of our little family experiencing Origins Game Fair together for the first time. We didn’t fully know what to expect, so all of us would be exploring, learning, and playing together.

One of my priorities is spending quality time with my family. I could have easily gone by myself, but I wanted to be with the people I game with the most.

Board Games Kids Want to Play

Demoing Rhino Hero Super Battle at Origins Game Fair

There were many companies exhibiting family friendly games, and some have a focus on board games for kids, such as HABA. I wanted to see which games my children were drawn to while browsing.

My daughter looking at the Monza demo game at HABA's booth.

Our first stop was by HABA and both of my children immediately started playing with the demos. It didn’t even matter if they knew the rules or not, it was wonderful to see how they interacted with the games. The ones they seemed the most interested included Dragon’s Breath, Rhino Hero Super Battle, and Monza (a car racing board game).

My kids learning how to play Echidna Shuffle at Origins.

My kids also requested to try playing Echidna Shuffle. I’ll be honest, I thought the little echidna on their sign was cute, but it’s a game I probably would have only glanced at if I was there alone. I’m so glad my daughter asked to go back and try the demo. We all enjoyed the game and ended up purchasing the last available copy.

I spend a lot of time evaluating which games I think my kids will enjoy and making decisions on what games to buy. Being at Origins together provided my children a unique opportunity to lead me around a bit and check out games that grabbed their interest.

My daughter learning how to play Circus Puppy at Origins Game Fair

My daughter was also completely drawn in by the displays around Renegade Game Studios. She thought the artwork was adorable for the Tea Dragon Society card game, Shiba Inu House, and Circus Puppy.

Trying New Things

There were over 200 vendor booths in the Exhibitor’s Hall at Origins Game Fair. Many of them were board game companies, but there were also gaming accessories, artists, authors, and more.

A booth from the artist section at Origins Game Fair.

Most vendors had games set up for people to demo, but there were also two Gaming Halls where you could register to play a variety of games.

It was seriously gaming heaven there. There were so many games we could learn to play. Plus, we were able to try different styles of games than we typically play at home. For example, Aerissa and I learned how to play Star Realms and discovered we really enjoy deckbuilding games.

The kids painting minis at Origins Game Fair

There were a few other firsts as well, such as the kids learning how to fight with foam weapons in the Origins Arena and painting their first miniature figures.

I loved browsing the art section with them. It was incredible to see so much creativity and inspiration and how it tied into gaming.

Not Your Typical Family Vacation

We are not your typical family (or maybe we are?) so why not look for family vacations as unique as us? We’re all geeky and passionate about playing games. Some families dream about beach getaways, but I dream about having fun playing games – preferably indoors.

Playing Star Realms with my daughter at Origins.

Don’t let her fool you. She’s quite the opponent.

I love meeting new people, but my introverted tendencies prefer a low key way of interacting with others. Board games provide an excellent way for me to be social in a way I feel comfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy a variety of getaways, but I want my kids to know that a family trip can be anything we want it to be. I want them to know that going out of town for a gaming convention is a vacation just as much as going to waterparks or amusement parks.

It may not be the type of trip they hear about all their friends going to and that’s OK. We do what makes us happy!

Board Game Hobby Encouragement

Speaking of doing what makes us happy…

It’s no secret that we’re raising gamers. Our kids have been playing board games and card games from an early age – it’s simply part of our life. I think it’s important to encourage and support kids in finding hobbies they enjoy.

Taking the kids to immerse them in a hobby our whole family participates in was pretty cool. Plus, it was a fantastic way to open their eyes to the world of gaming beyond our living room.

My daughter wearing our Stay At Home Gamers t shirt at Origins Game Fair.

I wanted my kids to see that there are many different ways to engage in gaming. For our family, it’s not only a passionate hobby, but also a business. We love encouraging other families to bond through game nights. It’s pretty great to work on content for Stay-At-Home Gamers as a family, plus the other projects we’re working on.

I wanted my kids to see that thousands of others share our passion. That they, too, can create new game ideas. Being at Origins also provided us the opportunity to engage with some of the game designers in a way we can’t from home.

We are so glad we made the trip and are looking forward to attending again next year. The kids brought home new memories and experiences that I hope stay with them far into the future. There were long days and lots of walking, but the kids were troopers. You can check out our Origins board game haul and recap here.

Trunk space of the 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring.

How many board games do you think I could fit in here?

We’re also thankful for the opportunity to ride in comfort with the 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to fill the entire trunk with new board games!

More family gaming tips you may enjoy:

Fun Family Puzzle Games: Katamino Family Review

Family Game Night Gift Guide

Bring Stories to Life With the Fairy Tile Board Game

5 Tips on Teaching Kids Good Sportsmanship

More family travel tips you may enjoy:

How to Keep Kids Busy on a Road Trip

5 Reasons Cedar Point Amusement Park is Perfect for Kids

Family Friendly Activities Within Driving Distance of Milwaukee

When you play games more than the occasional family game night, a board game convention makes an excellent family vacation. I share why we took a road trip to Origins Game Fair with our kids and why I wanted them to attend with me.

Erin Maroni

Saturday 30th of June 2018

Loved this! so many people don't know that taking kids to conventions is possible. My 1 year old is a bit young but once he is older I love the idea that we could do this too! Thank you for sharing your experience. Love the car too, I'm pretty sure you could fill that with 50 board games easy ;)

Darcy Zalewski

Monday 2nd of July 2018

Thank you, Erin! I love that we can do more things like this now that the kids are a bit older. :D