Fri09192014

Community

Local family's book promotes group play


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Breier family of Los Altos Hills enjoys the benefits of group play, and they’re spreading the word about the value of games in a new book.

The Breier family of Los Altos Hills believes that games are a force for good, so they’re spinning their ideas into a book that encourages other families to discover the benefits of group play.

“More interaction is better … so any game that gets people interacting instead of listening to music or diddling on their own little screen is a force for good,” said 21-year-old Corey Breier, the eldest of the family’s three sons. “You’re not going to be at the end of your life and say, ‘I wish I’d played more Angry Birds.’”

Creating and publishing a book of games comes naturally to a family that has experience blogging and authoring books. From sock wrestling to pool basketball and word contests, games are an integral activity in the Breier household. In fact, it was while playing a game in their car during a recent road trip that the family first pondered the idea for the book.

“We know a lot of games, and some families don’t,” Breier said.

Unlike the stereotypical camp games that come to mind when many people think of games, the Breiers aim to present creative content that is fun, extensively tested through personal experience and meaningful enough to foster engagement in complex social situations. Although most of the games in their book are simple and require only a bit of imagination, the Breiers also highlight some board games and multiplayer video games.

Even though a book of games may go against the grain of popular culture – the family considered building an app as well – Breier said a well-illustrated coffee-table book seemed to be the most appropriate format to lure children and adults away from mobile phones and other technology to socialize face to face.

“If you have a game in which everyone is engaged and they’re actually enjoying the game because they like it, you don’t have to think about your phone,” he said.

Kickstarting a fundraising campaign

After giving their book a title – “Life Is a Game: 101 Group Games for Family and Work” – the family launched a Kickstarter campaign in early July to fund the project and measure interest. They need $5,000 to pay for illustrations, hire a layout designer and finance the first run of the self-published book. If they meet their goal by the Aug. 7 campaign deadline, the book could be ready for distribution as early as October. The family has already received more than $2,600 from 47 contributors as of this week, a head start toward their fundraising goal.

Unique to the project is the extent to which the entire family is involved – dad Mark oversees marketing, mom Ronda serves as copy editor and the three boys – Riley, 11; Travis, 19; and Corey – are contributing chapters on their favorite games.

Breier is so confident that the endeavor is a winner that he turned down a summer internship to shepherd the book to fruition as project manager. He said the project gives him something to wake up to every day, and it’s fostering his growing passion for connecting people through games.

“At first – as any kid would – well, I didn’t want to do it,” said Breier of his childhood resistance to his father’s prodding to play games.

In time, Breier inherited his dad’s role as a game catalyst. He said games find their way into his daily routine – whether at parties on his college campus or during downtime while studying abroad.

“If we’re talking and we don’t have a game, the onus is on each of us,” said Breier of the awkwardness that can characterize a gathering of unfamiliar faces. “With a game, it makes its own little rules.”

For more information on the Breier family’s book project, visit 101groupgames.com.

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