Get your game on.
My husband is a nut for games. Board games, card games, kickstarter games… I think he acquired four different games (Robot Turtles, Euphoria being two that spring to mind) in the last month JUST from backing kickstarter projects. Great. We don’t have a TV, so I understand the logic inherent in his purchases. However, our friends have largely lost the ability to play these games.
Rules get explained five times, the winning logic is hashed out again and again… and by then everyone’s half-hour sitcom patience is fried. Gone are the days of marathon Monopoly and cheese-toastie-for-rent situations; the most successful game at a recent collection of adults was (I kid you not) Looping Louie , in which a little motor rotates a boom with a small plastic plane. The board’s four radial arms lead to the players’ barns and their chickens. Each player’s barn has a little lever, which is used to bounce the rotating plane away from your chickens – hopefully causing a collision into someone else’s. The last player with chickens left wins.
Yep. Eight adults standing around a little plastic plane cheering or howling in frustration. We swapped out for turns while RoboRally and Ascension sat unloved on the dining table. Next time we have grand plans to break out Trouble, Headache, mayyyyyybe Ludo and – for advanced attention spans – Dick Bruna Memory.
Why don’t we play long, complicated games anymore? Why is speed and simplicity so attractive? Sure, we like the easy games because they’re easy, but since when did complexity become so undesirable? I grew up playing Canasta and Bolivia with my grandmother at her kitchen table, my six-year-old hands cramping around the thick hands of cards. We played Rummy with my dad and poppy, and epic games of Ludo thick with strategy and broken alliances. My parents played Scrabble most weekends and when I was very good I would be allowed a rack of letters – eight, to make my choices easier. Since we didn’t have a dishwasher, most nights someone would wash up and someone would play Memory with me. Unsurprisingly, I now have a great memory. My husband probably wishes my parents had saved a bit harder and bought a dishwasher.
As an only child I was allowed to play Pictionary with my parents and their friends, more rummy, and an epic card game I still don’t know the name of (no-one ever did). At the ballet hall and on the floor of friends’ bedrooms we played Spit (cards), Go to the head of the class, UNO, Guess Who, Connect 4… Simple rules that led to Magic The Gathering, chess, Balderdash, and glasses of wine around dinner tables.
I can sit here and enumerate the myriad ways that playing a game will upskill your child, but the best reason to have a stack of board games sitting under your coffee table is gorgeously simple. They’re fun. And when you start simple and early, playing a game (even with rules and structure and a winner and a loser) is fun. It’s important to know how to lose well, and just as important to know how to win gracefully. As adults even more so.
Dust off your board games. Buy Twister, or chinese checkers. Sit down as a couple, or a family, or make teams so your kids can stay involved. Make a date with some friends and tell them to bring the wine. Reconnect, hash out old grievances, learn a new word and have some fun. Please.