As we continue to wallow in the joys of sheltering-in-place, many are turning to board games and the like to keep boredom at bay. Board games are a fantastic, usually low-tech solution to keeping us on our toes while having a little fun. Which got me thinking about board games past and present and in the end, I decided I had some thoughts to add to my previous Game Night. So here we are… lucky you.
Chemistry sets nowadays are cool, there’s no two ways about it. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a kid around who wouldn’t be stoked to receive a chemistry set for their birthday or as another holiday surprise. Even if it wasn’t their cup of tea, a rainy day a few months down the road would inevitably end up with the child popping open the box and seeing what crazy experiments await them. Even to this day, chemistry sets are a very unique gift. There is even one that you can purchase a subscription for, where you receive a package every month that comes with a variety of different experiments. It’s marketed to kids, but if I had the money, I’d totally be down for getting one for myself!
But if we’re talking phenomenal ways to maybe lose an eye… or a layer of skin, let’s discuss the chemistry sets that were around when I was a kid. Those were awesome, hands down. Looking back, we just didn’t realize it at the time. No safety standards, protective eyewear, or warning labels in sight. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some plutonium, lithium, or uranium in there. But hey, you’re 10, No problem! Here you go, just do your best to not set the house on fire or blow up the neighborhood please!
While on the topic of chemistry sets, I also remember an edible chemistry lab. My kids at one time or another have had this set. Probably not of their own devices, but as gifts. I believe it was called something like Dr. Dreadful’s lab. It was set up like the other, more traditional science experiment stations, but instead gave kids the means to mix weird fizzy green-color drinks and other gooey confections, that were 100% edible. Needless to say, speaking as an adult, the ingredients were incredibly disgusting, and if I remember correctly, the kids weren’t all that impressed either.
Now, Battleship was a game my brother and I played often. I’m not saying he cheated, but he did win an inordinate amount of times. We… I mean, he, cause it was his game and don’t you forget it, had the original game that came with two separate gaming stations that stored all of the respective pieces when they were closed. No computer to keep score, no electronics to add to the thrill, just us, the honor system (ha!), and our own special effects. I understand that the electronic version calls out, “You Sank My Battleship!” and it’s all fun and games. All I had was my brother yelling: “I sank your battleship! Again! AGAIN! That’s the five hundredth time in a row now! Battleship… SUNK!” Oh yeah. Fun and games.
While both of my kids were living at home, we loved to play the card game UNO, and it was always a blast. We had (still have, in fact) the version that includes a machine that spits out a random number of cards – or none at all – when it’s your turn to push the button. It added to the heat of the game. I mean, you’d think you were just about to win and wham! Now you suddenly have 50 cards in your hand.
Like with most of our games, we never really played UNO by the rules, but instead we adopted our own series of house rules that we’d use. Although technically you’re supposed to keep score over several sets of play, our style would be playing a hand and that was a game. Whoever went out first was the winner. It made it more exciting and fun, and boy did we have fun. There’s a running joke in our house about my son winning a game in under a minute via skips, reverses, draw fours, and the like, that he laid down on my daughter and me, but mostly me. That’s why I refuse to sit beside him when we play the game, but it’s tough because there’s only the three of us. I sure do miss those days.
Games like Monopoly, checkers, hearts, rummy and others, were always a staple for game night growing up before smart phones took over. Even back when video game consoles first hit their stride, there was still a healthy mix of board gamers and video gamers. Hell, I remember when Dungeons and Dragons came out… yes, I’m that old. It combined the familiar board game platform with the rich backstories reminiscent of video games to attract a new audience. D & D came out like gangbusters and just like that, a whole new genre of board games was born. It’s garnered renewed interest in recent years, and I can understand why. It’s a thinking person’s board game and those who believe it’s just for “nerds,” have obviously never played. Sure, nerds just happen to be better at it, but you shouldn’t be underestimating nerds in the first place. So there.
I’d be curious to hear about what kinds of games you remember playing as a kid, or which ones you still play today. Maybe with your kids or grandkids. Or hell, maybe just for fun. Spill the beans! (Ha! See what I did there? Cause, Don’t Spill the Beans is a game too. But I turned it around as a way to get you to tell me what games you play… get it? Oh, never mind.)