It’s been a horrible week, but it’s Friday, and we’re ready to think of doing something fun. Something lighthearted. Something that will make us feel guileless and carefree… like kids again. So, we asked our staff a simple question and got some fun answers…
Ummm, it’s a thing you play at parties
game with little paper units cards in a teal container, aaaaand your compatriot partner has to correctly identify guess what you’re trying to convey without you saying anything from the itemized thing list on those little paper units card orrrrrrr your opponents get to hit the noise thing buzzer aaaaaand you don’t get points. And the name of this is umm, another word way of saying “UNSPEAKABLE.”
Every generation has a game that exploits the economic anxieties of the time. Monopoly was made to teach people about the dangers of unregulated capitalism. But in the 80s, when the U.S. had embraced unregulated capitalism, the fear was that America would lose its edge in precision manufacturing and so a game emerged that tricked us. In Operation!, you’re playing a surgeon, removing bones and organs from a man on gurney. Of course you can Operation!, says mom. She wants you to be a surgeon. Faster and faster, you have to pluck body parts with tweezers and if you hit the sides of the incisions, the game vibrates and screeches admonishment. You’re not being trained for surgery. You’re being trained for automated factory work under the supervision of a merciless machine. But you don’t even know it.
Conceived in China some 2,500 years ago, they call me Wéiqí (that’s “way-chee” to new language speakers.) A major sensation in Korea for centuries, they called me Baduk (the ‘k’ sounds like a ‘g.’) Nearly 8,000 kilometers away, as the crow flies, Xerxes seceded Darius and vowed to avenge his father’s defeat by renewing attacks on Greece with 150,000 soldiers and 700 ships. But the fourth King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire dared not attempt capture on my board. The Japanese have since made me a global hit among 46 million superfolk. My board has a 19×19 grid with 361 points. You’ll probably start on a smaller 9×9 or 13×13 board, if you haven’t mastered the three other essential arts of the cultured aristocratic Chinese scholars of antiquity. Don’t be fooled by my simple rules. If you lack abstract strategy skills, you will likely never Go.
My strategy begins by buying the first property available to me, striving for as many monopolies as possible. Value matters, and I stick with the top tier. I don’t buy houses or hotels until I acquire Boardwalk and Park Place. These two properties are last on the board, they are the most expensive with the highest rent and mortgage value, and they are in the dark blue set. Boardwalk’s rent with a hotel is $2,000.00, it costs $400.00, and its mortgage is $200.00. Park Place’s rent with a hotel is $1,500.00, it costs 350.00, and its mortgage value is $175.00. If any of my opponents get either or both, I offer them a deal they can’t refuse. I buy houses until I can upgrade to hotels and wait until someone lands on my properties. Finally, I make the most important move: Win!!!
Candy Land… Setting Children Up For Disappointment In Life Since 1950.
Because in Candy Land, when you lose big time, you really still win. You may make it to the top row and be but a few lavender squares from success, only to find yourself poised suddenly at the opening of the giant slide that zig-zags all the way back down to the bottom where you have to start over. But that’s ok. You land on a gum drop pillow. And then get to spin again. And again.
In my childhood, I enjoyed no game more than Mystery Date. In all honesty, I don’t know if ever technically “played” the game. Mainly, I just ripped the pink Mystery Date phone out of the box and dialed the different numbers on the cards. But still, it elicited a joy that not even stuffing peg children into cars in Life and laughing at the small array of mustachioed men in Guess Who could parallel.
Two words explain why it was 10x more enchanting to play Rings on your fingers than the ho-hum game of Memory: BLING BLING. Not only do the blondes on the box, whose ethnic homogeneity can be overlooked on account of their fine taste in joaillerie, prove it; so do the countless hours Kelaine and I spent playing this simple yet refined game. Isn’t that the very definition of elegant?
And if you thought this 1.0 game was a relic of a lost generation, you’ll be delighted to know it’s been passed down to baby Zoomers. Keep it classy, Lili and Dean.
My favorite board game? Bonkers, with its late-70s, disco-era design and giant bubble letters evocative of The Electric Company.
My friends and I loved to play this game in, of all places—my attic. We tied a rope to the folding attic stairs and set the game up somewhere amongst the dusty furniture, taking care not to put a foot through the rafters or lose any game pieces in the fiberglass insulation. We used the rope to pull the stairs up after us, and our secret hideout was complete. It didn’t matter if it was July and 120 degrees up there, we loved it and spent hours in the dark with our flashlights, playing and laughing hysterically. I have no idea now what was so funny about that game. But the memory of all those good belly laughs and being hidden away in my attic will stay with me always.
The game of Clue—a mystery game that will inevitably end in thrown cards and screams of “breaking the rules”, the rules of which we all know are slightly different dependent on the house. All I ever rolled for was to take the secret passages; keeping my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t betray myself (obviously a miss scarlet over here) by murdering The Colonel with the candlestick in the study.
And you knew who the rich friend of the group was if they had Clue – Master Detective; featuring newly added, but oft-forgotten Miss Peach, Monsieur Brunette, Madame Rose, and Sergeant Gray (ps – these would all make pretty decent drag names). You could also now kill people with poison and a horseshoe (which, like, okay, Boomer.) Who just has a horseshoe lying around – ESPECIALLY since stable is not an option for the scene of the crime. Gosh – these board game background stories make no sense.
Favorite? That’s a stretch. As a middle child with perfectionist tendencies and a healthy dose of Catholic guilt by the time I entered Kindergarten, I’m surprised I played this one as often as I did. For those unfamiliar, you have to fit all these weird shapes into their corresponding slots before the timer stops and the spring-loaded game board literally explodes, throwing pieces every-fuckin’-where. It’s like those baby shape puzzles, but on steroids. Boggle has restraint. Perfection does not. Perhaps I can finally tell my therapist where my anxiety comes from. “Well, Sean, it’s from the time when the weird rhombus circle shape flew off the game board, smacked me in the eye, ricocheted off my cornea, never to be seen again. So not only did I lose the game, we were never able to actually EVER win again as a family because we were missing the final piece.”
I currently have 2 closets overflowing with board games. During my childhood, however, there wasn’t as much in-house variety. I remember us having a regular deck of playing cards, UNO, and KerPlunk.
My grandparents also owned UNO along with Trouble, Twister, Sorry, Connect Four, and the favorite of my cousins and neighborhood friends, checkers. Sure, I played each of those, but I wouldn’t consider any of them the best.
I always dared to be different which just means I was content being myself despite trends. When checkers really became a thing during my later grade school years, I decided to learn chess instead. Big into video games around that time too, I discovered the Apple computer version of Battle Chess.
By 8th grade I felt I was ready for chess tournaments. So, I entered one. And lost. Convincingly. Looking back, I don’t feel defeated. I feel chess was the best.
Just because this little shit over here was an insufferable childhood know-it-all and loved showing off that he was the smartest one in his family. And only the best people played with the brown piece. That’s a fact.
I loved Legos as a kid. So you can imagine the appeal of a board game where you have to basically assemble the game from smaller pieces as you go. I always found it exciting to construct an elaborate set up from ground zero, even if I knew what it was going to look like each time I played. And even better, it was educational: what more iconic way to prepare kids for the corporate world than to teach them the importance of collaborating to construct a fragile and rickety process, all designed to ensure someone (who might not have done much building) wins the rat race at the end with everyone else trapped?
Suitable for ages 3 to 7… and also for gay men until they hit like 30, when some twink on Grindr is like ‘so your vibe is woke daddy?’ and you’re like uh bitch I do not have the facial hair or the credit score for that title.
I had a lot of games that I didn’t actually play, like Bargain Hunter (I just messed around with the fake credit cards) or Grape Escape (Mousetrap ripoff where you mutilated playdough grapes). One of my favorites was Perfection.
You were supposed to set the timer and then race the clock to put the shapes in their holes. When the timer went off, the game would launch the pieces from their moorings. In a telling bit of stress avoidance, I would put the pieces into their spots, then set the timer, because the real fun of the game was seeing the chaos of the pieces thrown from their nests. Who knows how long I had been doing this before the actual point of the game sank in and I knew I was doing it “wrong”?
Enchanted Forest, hands down, favorite game.
We had it at my grandmother’s cabin in the woods, and the game’s point was to match Grimm’s fairy tales to their associated plot twist: the slipper for Cinderella, the golden ball that falls in the pond for the Frog Prince, etc.
We would carefully guard the little trees with their secrets as we landed on them, suspiciously looking at each other while trying to memorize them.