Board games have existed for years. Chances are, that during your childhood you’ve encountered some sort of game with your parents, friends or siblings that has led to some good memories.
Hello, lovers of the board game world. I’m Jonathan Calleja and this column will talk about all things game related, but specifically board game, card game and game design related topics. Today, I’m talking about some of the memories I’ve gained and some lessons I’ve learnt through playing games.
I’ve had a passion for games, singing and eating delicious food as long as I can remember. If I think back to the first game I remember playing, it was probably Monopoly. Though, I generally don’t like Monopoly because when I played it, I played it with my family.
When first conceived, the image of a family playing board games together is a pleasant one. After you first experience it, you realize it is not always as peachy as the image the world sells us. When I first played Monopoly, I was enchanted by the idea of having lots of money. My father always took the role of the banker and my face lit up the first time I got my $15,000 to spend on whatever property I wanted. The idea of having and spending more money than I ever dreamed of was beautiful and the idea that the money could be used to make more money in the game was like icing on a very delicious cake. This was a big deal, considering my life savings at the time was probably less than $20. Unfortunately, Monopoly is based on capitalism and, like the real capitalist system, some people lose money while others make money. I learnt very quickly if you buy everything in Monopoly, you will run out of money and if you don’t spend it, you run out of money. So much for my dreams of being rich! Being unable to understand the complexities of the game resulted in my merciless parents defeating my sisters and I at every game. This might also be because my father took loans from the bank without any mention of paying them back and we were none the wiser because we couldn’t be bothered reading the rules.
My introduction to games taught me a few things. Always read the rules, because then you know if someone cheats. Even parents cheat, so read those rules extra carefully. Buying property is a lot less interesting than buying and eating lollies, which is what I usually did with my pocket money. Finally, you should let your younger siblings win if you ever want to actually finish a game without someone throwing a tantrum about how it’s not fair. Because let’s face it, semi-regulated capitalism, like you experience in Monopoly, is only really fun if you’re winning.
Consequently, Monopoly is not one of my favourite games. Thankfully it didn’t crush my love of games, as I quickly discovered computer games. Unlike board games that require other players, such as parents, computer games can be played by one person. Secondly computers never cheat, because they’re not smart enough to think about anything other than what they’re programmed to do. Computers are also far easier to play against because they’re predictable. It’s like you can’t lose against computers. If you lose, the only reason is because you just haven’t won yet. For these reasons, computers are great opponents for people being introduced to games and exactly the remedy I needed cleanse myself of the negativity I found with Monopoly. But I feel as though ending here wouldn’t be giving board games the credit they deserve. There are many brilliant aspects to board games and these are best appreciated with a great play group. So, if your family aren’t the most reliable players in the world, play with some trusted friends. It’s not only more fun, but can be hilarious.
Needless to say if you’re a parent who is looking to find a game to enjoy with your kids, don’t buy Monopoly unless you’re gracious enough to let them win and righteous enough to follow the rules. Otherwise, choose a simpler game, such as Dixit, Uno or something that is short and skill based so you can play badly and let your children win every now and then.
GAMES YOU SHOULD PLAY TIME!
At the end of each post, it’s GAMES YOU SHOULD PLAY TIME! This means I’ll mention a game that I think that pushed the boundaries of what a games can do. This time I’d like to introduce you to Every day the Same Dream. The controls are very simple. You only need to use left, right and the spacebar on your keyboard. That’s it. If you like puzzle games, you’ll like this game. You can play it here. I warn you, this game isn’t as traditionally fun as you expect it to be. But that isn’t the point of this game. The aim of the game is to achieve a new life, as the elevator lady tells you. I’ll let you play it and I’ll talk more about why I like it in my next installment. Enjoy! (I’ll also mention how to beat it if you haven’t already found out how to.)