Monday, November 12, 2007

On Playing Games

If you know me, you already know this: I love playing games. Board games, computer games, video games, puzzles, you name it. Being very competitive, I play to win. This has lost me some game-playing partners in the past, as friends decide it's not fun to lose every single time. Although I could probably throw a game to keep a player interested, I am apparently incapable of thinking of this while a game is in progress.

When I was a kid, my family played a lot of games. We would have Tripoley night, where we'd all sit around the dining room table (not the kitchen table, where we had most of our meals, but the big "company is coming" dining room table) and play. I always got excited on Tripoley night because I loved the game, playing with my family, and feeling grown up enough to play with adults.

My mom loves playing games (Dad was more into sports than games, but he'd play sometimes, too). In January, she'll be 81 and has already pointed out that it means she won't be able to play all the games rated for ages 8-80. We're considering flaunting the rules, but agreed that she'll have to earn it. That said, I was talking to her yesterday and only after 25 minutes did I notice she was breathing a little differently. Turns out she'd been on her exercise bike the whole conversation. I was so impressed I gave her a six-month extension on the gaming age limit. Yeah, I'm that generous.

The extension is necessary because otherwise she wouldn't be able to play Rapidough with me. Rapidough is one of my favorite games. Made and sold in the UK, it's sort of like Pictionery with Play-Doh. You can play it with kids and adults and it's usually uproarious fun. Whichever team(s) loses has to remove a plug of Play-Doh. By the end, you can be playing with something the size of a pea and desperately trying to shape an oasis with it (yup, that's a real card – oasis).

For online games, I like to play on Pogo. Tons of great games on the site and they offer both a free and paid membership. With the free membership, you'll have ads, intermissions and about half the games available. Paid membership gets you an ad-free, intermission-free experience with all games available. A friend won us memberships last year (my lottery partner – she wins all the time) and I've had a blast playing the games, earning badges, playing in a league, etc. I have to be disciplined about the amount of time I spend on there, but for a quick 15 minute break, it's a blast.

My lottery-playing friend and I also enjoy playing adventure games together. We each get the game, then talk on the phone while we play, solving the puzzles together, figuring out where to go next, etc. She lives across the country, so we can't do it in person, but when she came to visit me we spent several hours playing a Nancy Drew adventure game and had an absolute blast.

One of the classic game-playing stories of my youth involved a rousing game of Jeopardy, the home version. My family still can't speak of it without gales of laughter.

Some people dismiss games as unproductive, time-wasting and trivial. Not me. Games are delightful, can be a perfect way to spend an evening with friends or family and almost always cause a lot of laughter. Laughing is one of the healthiest things you can do in life.


Grace Tyler said...

I intensely dislike playing games most of the time. My sister and my dad always cheated at games when I was growing up, so I don't associate them with fun.

Having to learn how to enjoy them again to play with my kids.

I am not that competitive and so it's different for me. But time to build new memories and wipe away the memories of the past.

My sister still cheats if given the opportunity.

Joanna Sandsmark said...

That's a shame. Cheating was never an option in our family. Because Mom was the game-player, she set the bar and she's impeccibly honest.

I hope you can make some new memories with your kids. Get a game where winning isn't important (and therefore cheating is silly). There are some good party games where it's all about cracking up as opposed to fierce competition.

Ed Pahule said...

I've never been one for games. Whenever I get forced into playing them I'm always thinking there so many other constructive and intellectual pursuits I could be doing instead of wasting my time on this mindless trivial pursuit (pun intended).

Plus I'm not very competitive, so even that isn't a draw for me.

Joanna Sandsmark said...

I think part of my love for games comes from my upbringing, as I mentioned in the post. We were raised on games and they were seen as a positive thing in our family. A treat and a tradition. Maybe that has something to do with it because both of my brothers also enjoy playing games.

plaidearthworm said...

I love board games, but no one in my family liked them, so I was deprived as a child (everybody, awwww). When my husband and I play Scrabble, or chess, or any other board game, I always lose. I'm thinking about challenging him to Hi-Ho Cherry-O; I was pretty good at that in first grade. :)