Board Is Not Boring (ms)

Despite the best efforts of the companies that create and sell video games I have never been caught up in them save for one brief time.

A console hooked to our television drew my attention and I was soon intensely focused on Burger Time. I dove into it with little reservation. I was soon furiously building giant hamburg sandwiches with the fervor of a wild man while frantically avoiding the army of condiments threatening to send me back to the grill. Oh, there were desperate moments. Tell the truth, I became addicted. Fortunately I was able to wean myself from Burger Time before any permanent damage was done, while I still had a life beyond the confines of the television set.

After recovering from all that it occurred to me that the games to be played were board games. Some much younger acquaintances of mine might call them “bored games” for they do none of the things young people expect from their games. Neither do they trap you in front of a screen for hours at a time killing, maiming and blowing up that which you can’t kill or maim. Additionally they can take a player into the real world by requiring some imagination, a bit of mental acuity and the ability to personally interact with people eye to eye and not through a game console. Perhaps there are electronic games which allow a player to do all that; those I’ve seen do not.

We have many of our favorites still in their original boxes. Monopoly, Chinese Checkers, good old reliable original checkers, even a chess board which was largely unused for that was one game we never really achieved any competence in. The rest of them had a decent workout in the years before they went off to retirement.

The games we played, the board games, required thinking that went well beyond the basic yes or no level. We had to think far enough along to try blocking our opponents moves, we stared each other down while making our choices, we howled with glee when one proved correct. It was often not as simple as you might think.

There is a strategy game called Risk and it is especially complicated. It involves warfare on a global scale though the graphics are simple. The play involves creating armies then positioning them to defend your territory or attack others. We played most often with friends of ours and the games could go on for hours if we wanted. I recall stretching one nail biting war across two weekends but the norm was a night of fun and conversation, strategy and good natured ribbing when places like Kamchatka were taken over. Board games seem elementary at first glance but they are far from that.

This piece is not a tribute to board games nor a slam of their electronic counterparts; it is merely an observation that we’ve come a long way in the games we play. I fear sometimes that we have gone too far to the point where we’re trapping our imaginations and communications in one small box of soldered electronic parts.

–Mike Stevens

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~ by admin on August 8, 2011.

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