In this age of digital diversions and personalised pastimes, it’s a relief to know that the humble, traditional board game can still bridge the generation gap and bring the family together for an evening of innocent, contented fun. Whether you’re chasing your fortune around the familiar colour-coded London of the Monopoly board, or engaging in the classic battle of wits and words afforded by a night on the Scrabble tiles, there’s a board game suitable for every gathering.
Sometimes it seems impossible to wrest the youngsters from their phones and Xboxes, but board games seem to have more success than other pursuits. It’s a rare family that sticks religiously to the rule book, though, and it’s always fun to add in extra house rules. The ‘Harry Potter’ rule is usually good for tempting the kids into a game of Scrabble, with double points for spelling out any character from the books, for instance. It’s worth bending the rules a little just to see them diving into the dictionary at every turn, and totting up scores in their heads.
Take a Risk
There’s no doubt that board games are seeing something of a renaissance at the moment, and beside the old classics, many new titles are being released to meet the growing demand. Often seen as the preserve of the ‘quiet night in’, board game fans can also make a sociable night out of their passion with game nights becoming a popular attraction at pubs and other venues. There’s clearly something in the air when the Managing Director’s morning pep talk revolves not around marketing strategies and turnover figures, but the ins and outs of his Risk game the previous evening.
Some part of the renewed appeal of board games must lie in their sociability. Any group, be it family, friends or colleagues, can gather around a board and immerse themselves in a different world for a time. There’s a certain pleasure to be had in the rituals of shaking the bag of Scrabble tiles, lining them up on the rack in ever-changing anagrams, and wondering what word could possibly contain five Us.
Next time you hear that plaintive cry, ‘Mum, I’m bored’, remember that boredom is not just a great excuse to break out the board, it’s also a seven-letter word, worth a fifty-point bonus.