Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bored(?) Games

I played board games a fair bit as a kid.  Usually with my brother and sister, sometimes - since I was the youngest by nearly 6 years - alone (or left hand vs right hand). Hey, I grew up in the 70's and early 80's where there wasn't as much stimulus as there is nowadays - we had to make our own fun, people.

Old favourites were Scrabble, The Game of Life, Chess and Monopoly.

Board Games wained a bit as I got older, replaced by computer games, sport, women, education, drugs and alcohol (okay, probably 3 of those aren't entirely true). Sure there was the occasional game of Scrabble, or if there were a few people over - Pictionary, Balderdash or Trivial Pursuit. But board games went right off the radar.

Until one of my best friends - Pete (pictured with me below) re-introduced me into the fold.

Please Note: Picture may have been "enhanced".
Side note #2: If you look to the right of the picture you will see the edge of my future wife's head. Obviously at that point in the relationship Pete was far more important. What was 'she' doing trying to get into our photo anyway?

Pete had been getting into board games big time - I think as a replacement for his computer game addiction.  And the board games were not just the generic off the shelf K-Mart stuff, but some really good stuff - games that looked nothing like the games I played as a kid. In fact, in most instances there wasn't even a board.


So I digress... Yes, Board Games - without boards. Seemed a novel idea but apparently one that's been going on for some time. So, with some ideas from Pete (though would you trust a guy with a computer game addiction and studs in his forehead?) I went online and ordered (because you generally can't buy them in K-Mart). Pete also put me onto his main supplier... of information - the BoardgameGeek website which - whilst a bit busy and takes some getting used to - offers a lot of information and reviews on everything board game.

I guess the purpose of looking into this Board Game thing was to have something to do that brings the whole family together.  Mum doesn't like watching footy, the kids don't like beer, you know - the usual conundrums. Board games seemed like a nice way of bringing us all together in a tactile way that the Nintendo Wii couldn't quite achieve on its own.

Actually, I think that's part of the appeal of a game like Texas Hold-em poker. You know - the phenomenon that's swept the world this last 10 years or so. It's a fun game, but in todays isolated and individualistic society it also brings people (usually men) together in a 'non-threatening to their sexuality' or any other kind of way.  And I think people need to be together. For thousands of years we've lived in communities and now all of a sudden we're thrust apart. A lot of us are missing out on a basic human need - and consciously we may not even know it - though our subconscious is probably screaming out. So I'm really happy to see initiatives such as Act, Belong, Commit being introduced into the mainstream, as it has been recently in Western Australia.

But I digress again. To cut a long story shorter - we have heaps of Board games and the family loves to play many of them. It brings us together, and there is nothing that kids want more than to have the full attention of their Mum or Dad.  Board games do that - with the bonus that the parent usually has some fun as well.


Our 5 & and half year old is obsessed with playing a Bingo-type game called 'Zingo!'. This is a simple game and one that I have an even money chance of winning. I say this, because the other game he is obsessed with is called 'The Spiderman and friends Memory Game'. It's a simple card matching game - except that there are 72 cards. That's ridiculously hard. Worse still - 5 & a half year old whips my butt every time. Seriously, I put in all sorts of strategies in a failed effort to remember which card is where, while 5 & a half year old picks them up like he's got x-ray vision.

Meanwhile, 8 year old is playing another favourite against 5 & a half year old - good old 'Connect Four'. He routinely beats him and lets him know it. I come in and make the statement, "Well out of ten games, I could beat you 8 times", all the time thinking I'm being generous. 8 year old comes back with, "I think it's more likely to be 6-4". I say right, "You're on". Well... let's just say 5-5 put me back in my place and thinking about a game where my experience, as opposed to lack of brain power, might come in handy.

But those games aren't the ones that we were blown by away at the beginning of my post. I'm talking about 'Carcassonne' (5+), 'Forbidden Island' (7+), 'Ticket to Ride' (7+) and the simple but fun card game 'No Thanks' (5+). I should also say we really enjoy 'Lego Minotaurus' (5+). We have a few of the Lego games but this is the one we enjoy the most. And the added bonus is, these games are fun to play, with or without kids.

Pete would be able to suggest more, if only I can get him away from the computer game he is no doubt currently playing...

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