I suppose it’s been around since people appeared, whenever that was. It’s fun and it somehow awakens the desire to be better than the people around you. I’m talking about playing games. Board games, card games, guessing games. They all have something basic in common, and that is trying to reach a goal or do something better or faster or more cleverly than your opponent. It can be great fun, and it can make you think and strive to improve your skills. For some people it’s a way to relieve stress and pass time, or just plain forget about real-world problems. The thing that I love about playing games is how it brings people together.
As a kid, I remember games for younger kids like Chutes and Ladders, Old Maid cards, and Tiddlywinks. Of course they were great, and are still made today. As I got older, the really great games became staples of those long winter evenings and Saturday night popcorn showdowns. It was a time when parents and the kids sat around the kitchen table and laughed and ate junk food and tried to get one over on each other. It over shadowed TV and the drama of the day, and it made a family really feel like family. There was something magic in those simple times. It even got Dad to smile after he struggled to get the dining room table fixed or Mom spent the afternoon sewing patches on your new blue jeans that you ripped trying to squeeze through a barbed wire fence to get to the tadpole pond. And it got your brother laughing after he did the most hated childhood chore ever invented, homework.
I don’t really know how all that disappeared so thoroughly. I don’t know how Parcheesi or Mousetrap or Operation could give way to watching dog and cat videos on a little blue screen or how something as classic as Monopoly could somehow morph into shooting Zombies by pressing little buttons so that they spurt green blood all over the ground. And I certainly don’t understand how stealing cars in the ‘hood is preferable to spelling the longest word in the game and getting triple letter scores twice. I get the allure of a game you can play by yourself, but it just makes me shake my head when I see two kids side by side on the couch with no idea what game the other one is playing. I used to joke that it was a communist plot, but that may not be such a stretch. If I wanted to change the world (for the worst, by the way) I guess that separating family members would be a good start. Is it really a coincidence that these games are now manufactured by a communist country that would love to take us over?
Even if it isn’t the secret goal of some evil intention, I think it’s at least a bad waste of time we could spend laughing with each other, learning fun stuff, and forgetting the skirmishes of the day. It’s a time we could have fun with other humans and actually look into their eyeballs. It’s an evening that can never be replaced. Best of all, it’s a time that you remember dropping popcorn in your grape soda and turning it purple, how your sister told you how gross you are, and still getting fifty bonus points and sending her back to ‘start’. Forget the zombies — I’ll take the top hat or the shoe any day. And I still think Mr. Green did it, in the library, with the lead pipe. Miss Scarlett is innocent.