As I’m typing this, tensions in my house are running a little high. It’s fair to say that Son, The Hottie and I are all pretty competitive people so tonight’s been a bit fraught. But we’ve loved every minute. You see, we’ve spent the evening playing board games.
If I wind the clock back, games are definitely part of my childhood memories. I remember tucking a £500 note under the Monopoly board at the start of every game so that I could ALWAYS buy Mayfair. I remember Scrabble games with my Aunts where they finished hundreds of points ahead of me. I remember so many games even if I can’t remember the name of the game itself – the people, the experiences and the memories. So many memories all created from a board, some counters and a dice. It’s kind of remarkable when you think about it.
I’m not going to pretend that being a ‘pop-up family’ is all plain sailing. We’re all learning how to be together but I can’t tell you how important board games have become to that process.
Then there was a big chunk of my life where board games didn’t really feature. Things were serious. I was adulting for all I was worth and that squeezed the games out. On our annual trips to France to visit French Aunt, games featured highly and Christmas would see us dusting off the Cluedo but that was it. So much to do, so much to do…
But that’s all changed. When The Hottie and I first got together, he challenged me to a game of Scrabble and I have to admit, I might have swooned a little bit at his rather brilliant wordplay. At Christmas, our first Christmas together, there were so many games. The Hottie even put together a bag of prizes so the winner of each game would have a lucky dip as a reward. So much fun and games became a bit of who ‘we’ are.
Now I’m not going to pretend that being a ‘pop-up family’ is all plain sailing. We’re all learning how to be together but I can’t tell you how important board games have become to that process. When we all sit down to play, we’re building more than houses and hotels on Regent Street and Bond Street.
Playing board games gives us the chance to put everything to one side and just have fun. Phones, iPads, school work and work stresses get left behind and we’re all focussed on each other. Sure, we want to bankrupt each other but with each roll of the dice, we’re rolling that bit closer together. Games give us the chance to create our own jokes, rib each other and just have some fun. Life for us all can be quite serious, board games let us kick back, relax and regress a little. Oh, and try and win too.
Our repertoire of games is expanding, we have our traditional game snacks and seats around the table. Our little ‘pop-up family’ becomes a little less pop-up and a little more permanent with each game. Obviously, Son is a still a little grumpy teenager about it all at time and maintains he’s only playing to be polite but his complicated strategies for making sure he’s the Monopoly master every time tells a different story.
In short, in my house, it’s good to be board.
I also know that I’m not alone. I asked in the A Life Loved Facebook group who else plays games and there were so many responses. But it’s more than that. People don’t play games to fill time, people play games because even if you lose, you win in so many other ways.
“I love the time it takes to set them up and play. It means so much to me to have people willing to give up their time and be absorbed in another world with people. I love having less screen time and would choose games over the cinema, TV or a games console any time, especially if my husband’s made cocktails!”
“Board games are my favourite. They were in my childhood and they’ll be in my children’s too. They teach you skills like patience, interaction and participation. They interact with families and friend in a way we don’t often get a chance to. They’re engrossing, silly, fun and also educational.”
Everyone was expressing how much they valued what games gave them; time with their loved ones, time away from screens and the hurly burly of life and time to create memories that last well after the game is packed back in its box.
“I love that games give you a few hours of intellectual stimulation, without it being based on a screen. And the traditions that come out of playing them, as well as the stories your have after a particularly close game! Games are also a good night in, without the need for alcohol – sometimes a rare find these days.”
“I love playing board games because you get to have banter with your friends and so many inside jokes are born from playing board games. They also make you think in a fun way and you feel like you’ve actually done something with your evening.”
“My sisters and I grew up playing Mah-jong. Building the walls, the ‘ceremony’ of rolling the dice to decide whose East Wind and dealing the tiles etc. We loved it. We all had our favourite tiles and special hands we’d try to collect. So many memories of my sisters are embedded in those little tiles.”
And those are just a few of the comments. Just mentioning board games seemed to get everyone fired up. The recommendations of games to play, shared enjoyment of various games, people being happy to say ‘I want to win’ but mostly, everyone was expressing how much they valued what games gave them; time with their loved ones, time away from screens and the hurly burly of life and time to create memories that last well after the game is packed back in its box.
When I was a little girl, or even a few months ago, if you’d have told me I’d be writing a feature getting passionate about board games, I might just have sniggered a little bit. But now, I’m sat here smiling at the thought of playing again. I’m never going to be great at Monopoly but do you know what, it doesn’t matter. The chance cards I’m being dealt right now are pretty good.
And I still have that £500 tucked under the board. Just in case.
If you want to get board, or if you’re looking for some new box sets for your gaming collection, here are some of the recommendations from the ALL Facebook group:
- Ticket To Ride
- Forbidden Desert
- Pandemic Legacy
- Who Knows Where
- Exploding Kittens
- Secret Hitler
- Trivial Pursuit