Board Games: Important for Family Bonding or The Downfall of Humanity

While protesters rage against the one percent and the unequal distribution of wealth, perhaps the 99 percent should focus their attention on the real culprits.  It’s time to put blame where blame is due, and  the blame is squarely on the shoulders of Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley.  If we want to change the world, maybe we should place the games back into their dusty old boxes and slide them under the part of the bed that never gets cleaned.

Here are the games that have brought down our civilization:

  1. Risk: By far the most evil of all board games and my son’s current favorite. The point of Risk is to “Rule the World” by conquering and submitting all the territories. Not only is that a terrible premise for a game, but with all the various colors, are we also encouraging a race war? Isn’t it more of a risk to go and ask someone to be your friend? So let’s change the rules of the game. First of all, throw away all the pieces but the cavalry. Use those pieces for galloping around the world and appreciating what other cultures have to offer. One piece will saddle up next to another and ask for friendship. The horseback riders will then go out to a nearby pub and drink the local beer from that territory.
  2. Monopoly: Tied with Risk as the most evil game ever. The one percent does come into play here. Instead of taking over the world by brute force, here the world is bought and paid for. Although everyone gets to collect $200 for passing Go, many obstacles can keep you from collecting your regular pay. The goal is to become the richest and to pinch every dollar out of those that are unlucky enough to pass by. A good rule change would be that Free Parking is available to all and that Chance is always an opportunity for growth. In place of expensive houses, players are rewarded for putting up affordable housing and converting worthless properties (Baltic Avenue anyone?) into community gardens.  Those who create the most opportunities to give will be the real winners here.
  3. Candyland: Don’t even get me started on the game that had to have been invented by the dental industry. A waltz through Candyland later sends you on a detour through Diabetesworld.
  4. Clue: Clue is the game for all those youngsters out there who later want to lead a life of crime. Many will argue that the point of the game is to help Ms. Scarlett, Mrs. White, Colonel Mustard, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock, and Professor Plum solve the case, but really shouldn’t that be up to the police? But don’t let the crime-solving element distract you from what this game is truly about — teaching homicidal maniacs that the most important rule is to “not get caught.”  The game not only teaches you about the various rooms where you can hide a body, but also the best weapons to use when murdering someone.  Who would’ve thought before this game that a candlestick would make a good murder weapon? And let’s not ignore the sexism that lies within this game. All of the women are titled with Ms. or Mrs.  and are depicted as either a seductress or a matron. The men, on the other hand, hold prestigious titles like Colonel and Professor. Why can’t a woman be a colonel?  Or a man be sultry for that matter?
  5. Yahtzee: This game is clearly a gateway for poker. Once you get the rules down for Yahtzee, you’ll be on your way to losing your home in Vegas.
  6. Chess: The racial undertones of Chess can easily be overshadowed by the internal class warfare in this game. Pieces are assigned offices and they must stick to those roles even if it means that their ability to move up (or over, diagonal, etc.) is severely limited. Pawns are forced to lay down their lives for not only their Kings and Queens, but for even lesser pieces such as rooks and bishops. Wouldn’t it be a lot better if all of the pieces had equal opportunity for advancement?
  7. Chutes and Ladders: Yeah, go ahead and tell kids how much fun it is to play on ladders.
  8. The Game of Life: Six kids? Really Mr. Bradley? Let me get this straight, the whole point of Life is driving around in a car picking up a spouse and six kids, along with a job and a house? If old Milt had included the right to have two blue pieces or two pink pieces in the front seat, there probably wouldn’t be any issues with marriage equality today. And what about all the driving? Let’s call what The Game of Life really is, “The Game of Funding Repressive Governments in the Middle East.” Let’s make an optional rule that it is okay to finish the game by walking all by yourself, if that is the Life you choose or were dealt.
  9. Trivial Pursuit: Here’s your lesson kids – the smartest person in the room doesn’t always get the biggest piece of the pie, just the luckiest one who gets the most Arts and Sports questions.

It doesn’t stop there, either:

  • Scrabble: Let’s face it; people that use big words all the time are just plain annoying.
  • Connect Four: What’s wrong with Five or Three?
  • Pictionary: What if you don’t have hands?
  • Battleship: You might accidentally hit a ship carrying medical supplies.
  • Stratego: See Risk and Chess.
  • Checkers: Limiting someone from moving forward is never a good thing.

One game that I do highly recommend, though, is Sorry. In this game, you wait your turn to leave your starting place and the ultimate goal is to find your way home. If you happen to bump into someone, you politely apologize with “Sorry.”  While they then have to go back to the start, in the long run you may have done them a favor, since they may be able to land a 4 and move backwards to get home sooner. You win if your family is intact in your home at the end of the game. And that is what playing a board game should be about, after all, a family coming together without the distractions that Life brings.

So, on second thought, maybe the answer to the problems in our world is to shut down the electronic gadgets, dust off the old game box, and make one day a week a game night. I suppose even one of those evil games I’ve mentioned above can be used to bring us together.


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