By Alexandria Harris
Harsh. Monopoly is a cruel mistress sometimes.
It seems like the general public has had enough with board games, even as people develop new strategies to succeed at them each year. I stumbled across a new book to help navigate the ins and outs of Scrabble. My family chose giant checkers (the one with the quilt board) and Monopoly as our favorite pastimes, so I haven’t played Scrabble as much as I’d like. The trailer for the book cracks me up and freaks me out a little.
Because I’m someone currently obsessed with words, it’s surprising that I didn’t beg my family to spend hours in Scrabble tournaments. To absolve myself of this travesty, I became addicted to Words With Friends. Although, it’s not the same because Words With Friends thinks it’s a genius application–it chooses what is a word and what isn’t, which is frustrating when something is clearly a word.
The only reason I remember the last time I played a game was because it was Labor Day and my little cousins wanted to play Uno, Mancala, and Jenga. In this age of technology, people really don’t sit down and play board games anymore. I can always be in the mood for Apples to Apples (waiting to get the infamous Helen Keller card) and even though I love Monopoly, we had to stop playing it at my house.
Technically it’s my fault.
I was always the banker, and banking is a hard job. Hard jobs should pay, so I paid myself when I was the banker. Cheating is a really harsh term for this, I just like to see it as being compensated for the amount of work you’re doing-$100 per turn to be exact.
Card games with a fast learning curve, like euchre, are not my friends. I really wanted to love euchre, I did. For games like War, Poker, or BS, I’m either a really bad liar or really good. For some reason it never stays either or, it switches by who I’m playing with or per game.
I didn’t have a good relationship with every board game I met. Battleship bored me, and don’t ever ask me to play Clue. Clue was always a little too cryptic and I always felt like I had to turn into Sherlock Holmes to get anything right.
When computers became more sophisticated and most board games transferred online, the need for being in the same room, or playing with actual people, was gone. Case in point, my sister can play Solitaire for hours. It’s interesting to think that you can be the most anti-social person in the world but still have a whole bunch of gaming buddies.
Games like Hang With Friends, Angry Birds Space, Muffin Knight and Fruit Ninja (what’s with the food obsession?), Game Dev Story, and Plants vs. Zombies have people spending ubiquitous amounts of time on their smartphones.
Board games require strategy, interaction, and tons of humor to stave off the competitive edge. Computer games or games for smartphones barely require people and when they do, it’s like your experience is impersonal because it’s mainly virtual.
Board games make me nostalgic because there’s nothing like sitting around a fire, eating popcorn and indoor s’mores, and everyone in an uproar because someone may or may not have cheated. It’s a defining experience, a connecting experience. We can always produce sleeker, faster, applications with more graphics and story lines, but (call me old-fashioned) there’s nothing like plain logic and a bit of fun to get a good day or night going.
Alexandria Harris is a writer and former reporter on WSUM 91.7. When she isn’t watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on repeat, she tweets regularly as @_ALHarris. Alexandria lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.