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Who knew board games could be such fun?
Family playing board game Color Illustrator Ver. 5 Spend quality time together Its Family Night
Monday, December 3, 2012
Don’t play games with me, people.
I was not into board games or card games as a kid. I didn’t play video games as an adolescent in the golden age of Atari, although I did enjoy playing “Asteroids” and “Pong” with my brother at the bowling alley our parents took us to every Friday night for “Guys and Dolls” co-ed league night.
My aversion to games was based on two simple reasons. 1. My attention span was just long enough to make it through a commercial for Jell-O Pudding Pops. 2. I lost all the time.
I was never very good at games. The rest of my family were card sharks. My parents played Canasta with my grandparents and other family friends for hours almost every Saturday night. My mom and younger brother once made it to the finals of a Rook tournament when he was just 9 years old.
Nobody ever wanted to be my Rook playing partner. I could never keep up with which cards had been played, so I was always throwing down the wrong card and losing the trick to the opponents. This led to hours of disappointment for my parents, who must have wondered if there had been an unfortunate switcheroo in the hospital nursery.
Over the years, I played a few hands of gin rummy and started a round or two of Monopoly. I liked Battleship, because it involved those cool toy boats. I liked Trouble because it had that popper bubble in the middle of the board. Not sure I ever played Trouble, but that popper provided endless fun.
Usually, however, the specter of certain defeat always inspired me to find excuses for not playing games.
For me, they were always “bored” games.
So, years later, what did I do? Went off and married a board game-aholic, I did.
My wife comes from a big family that seemingly played games constantly. To this day, many hours are spent during the holidays at my mother-in-law’s house at a table full of brothers-and-sisters-in-law hollering and laughing during endless rounds of Pictionary.
(Speaking of Pictionary, there’s a great chart on the website “Funny or Die” that explains “How to Play Pictionary.” The flow chart starts with “Draw A Picture” followed by “Did They Guess It?” If yes, you win, naturally. If no, proceed to “Point Repeatedly to the Same Picture” then back to “Did They Guess It?” If no, then back to “Point Repeatedly ...” and so on.)
Now that I am a dad, I’m all about games. I want my daughter to play games because they help her learn about rules and fair play, they provide us with valuable family time and — great Uncle Wiggily! — they’re fun!
I’m learning games with my kid, who often beats me. Some things never change.
But in this age of Xboxes and PlayStations and game apps, aren’t board games passe? A vestige from the days when families gathered ’round the kerosene lamp and played checkers as the wind whipped ’round their log cabins?
I asked some of my friends if they still played board games with their kids and, if so, to tell me some of their favorites. Faster than you can say “Go Fish,” it was as if I had unwittingly opened the virtual door on an overstuffed games closet and got buried in an avalanche of games.
Apples to Apples, Uno, Memory, Candyland, Connect Four, Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders — they all came tumbling out.
Not all games are loved equally, as evidenced by this exchange on my Facebook page between three snippy mothers who dissed Candyland.
Snippy Mom No. 1: “So glad someone finally exposed Candyland for being the dullest game on the planet (for anyone over the age of 18 months).”
Snippy Mom No. 2: “Candyland and Chutes and Ladders both have that horrible factor that sends you right back to the beginning, or close. At least when you use up those particular cards in Candyland, you’re safe, but Chutes and Ladders has the infinity factor, where you are just praying for it to be over already but someone gets sent ALL THE WAY BACK DOWN. As they always say, it’s not about who wins or loses, it’s about how long the darn game takes.”
Snippy Mom No. 3: “Arggh, I know!!! I ALWAYS get the gingerbread one or the candycane and get sent back. Sometimes we take those cards out. ;)”
Some friends play with their elementary-aged children, others play with kids bound for college. Some parents let their kids win, others show no mercy even to whimpering 5-year-olds. Some make up their own rules and even their own games.
The benefits of board games are many. Educators have found that young children develop hand-eye coordination and can learn to recognize letters and colors by playing games.
Games are good for a kid’s brain. They can aid in developing reasoning, logic and critical thinking skills — skills I sorely lack because I didn’t play enough board games.
For most families I heard from, though, games are just fun. Game nights provide memories that last longer than the latest viral video craze.
As the holidays approach, game nights are great ways to bring the family together — from grandparents to grandchildren. The American Library Association sponsored National Gaming Day a month ago and other groups have promoted “board game day” and “gaming weeks” in the past. My wife asked why couldn’t Roanoke and New River Valley residents get involved with those kind of events — or even sponsor our own.
Anybody got a living room big enough for Roanoke Board Game Night, 2013?
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