Reviewed by Louise Platt
The Art of Conversation is exactly that; a game inspired to encourage more conversation. The version I tried out at home with my family is the one which has been created specifically for children but it works for kids and adults alike.
Louise Howland who is the creator of The Art of Conversation (TAOC for short) has created a number of different versions of this game. Her aim is to encourage people to have interesting and meaningful conversations and as a result improve and develop communication skills and relationships. I think it’s a really inspired idea. I personally struggle (at times) to get my children to really talk to me. With this game people are encouraged to set aside dedicated, quality time to chat and to find out about one another while having fun at the same time.
The game is simple. There are 104 cards within the box with 200 conversation topics on them plus 4 blank cards for children to personalize. There is an in-depth instruction booklet included which explains the rules, suggests alternative ways to play, outlines the TAOC Manners and also has a separate section for adult players.
The cards are presented in a solid, brightly coloured box which (so it’s compact and easy to pop in a bag) and each card has two questions or discussion topics on them.
The game can be played with up to 6 players in each group. We played as a group of 3 (one adult and two children). I would imagine that with a larger group of players a more structured approach would be necessary but we just took it in turns to choose a card and then ask the other two players a question. We allowed time for the answer before moving on to the other player and their response.
There are so many varied questions to play with in this game. Some are simple such as ‘what have you learned to make?’ or ‘who cuts your hair?’ Others require some more thought such as ‘do you have a dream that you wish would come true?’ and ‘do you like being friends with people who are outwardly different?’ My children (who are 6 and 8) needed a lot of prompting and further questioning during our first game and if I’m honest required some cajoling and encouragement to really get into it (their initial responses were brief to say the least!). But, the questions are really interesting and I am looking forward to getting a much better insight into what my children think and believe in as we play each time. I think it would be a great game to play with the extended family at Christmas too and it could even work at dinner parties. And as the box is fairly compact you can take it out with you, maybe use it in the car on long journeys or bring it out in the waiting room at the dentist.
On the TAOC website the creators state that the game helps children make friends and be friends, it enhances their confidence and ability to listen and to speak, sharing ideas in a safe setting. It also aims to help children learn about and respect others and understand that differences need not create conflict.
There is no wrong or right answer to any of the questions and it is not a matter of who knows the most. It’s different and engaging and a very novel idea. Anything that can help bring families together to discuss what they think and feel is a huge plus in my book!
Available to buy from Amazon here.