Games I Play

I stay in a humble abode the size of the fist. I have to show CPWD every time the faucets leak or the door comes off the hinge. In this abode, I have a store room which, like most store rooms, serves no greater purpose than making the rest of the house look neat. Now believe it or faint – one complete ledge out of the 3 that the government graciously granted us is chock-a-block with boxes upon boxes of board games. And if one out of a total of 3 is dedicated to those, you can guess what pride of place they enjoy in my house.  You want to know why? Read on…

Games I Play - Board Game Fun - Keeping Kids Away From Video Games

We of the 80s have grown up in very different circumstances from what we see today. A phoneless, FB-free existence where Apple was actually a fruit on the tree and Tweet what the bird eating it said in delight. Add to it a small town like Dehra Dun and images of building castles in road-side rubble, winning kite flying  races, climbing mango trees, playing ‘I Spy’ and teacher-teacher, or just hunting for the roundest pebble in the gravel come rushing back.

And no! Sigh as loudly as we might, we can barely provide our children with the same experiences as they grow up around us in big cities. In today’s kiddie world, techi-telly is not the name of a favourite comic character or an outdoor game for 5 with one ‘denner’, but life-as-they-know-it from 8 am to 10 pm, every passing day.

As I moved on with my life, counting ages, hopping stages and shifting cities, the only nostalgic piece I really could salvage from what I left behind were my board games. And in the fortunate moment I learnt my husband had better quality ones (yes, it may have influenced my succumbing to his proposal), I happily willed mine to the store room in Dehra Dun and adopted his collection with open arms, which, as was told to you, adorns my most accessible ledge. I keep them there not just because we have weekend duels over cups of coffee or mugs of beer. They lie there waiting for my son to give them a try at least, before he discovers the merits of the Playstation strategically hidden behind the big towers of colourful boxes all sizes.

Games I Play

There are many reasons for voting board games into your lives. I have 6 main ones, which make me dream of a world full of 4+ players sitting around a square card board:

  1. A shared activity – Board games are like catalysts to make the family do something together. If not as a team, then as players around the same rules and geeties. If your TV soaps could not bring your kids out of their rooms or off www to sit with you, your board games surely can. On a rainy Saturday or a lazy Sunday, all you need is a sheet on the floor for a whole battle to begin. In such circumstances, blood is no longer thicker than water, as all is fair in war and Monopoly. Trade a card for a card, or just use some emotional blackmail, but get that hotel standing on Mayfair will you? Then sit back like a queen and collect rent. Doesn’t sound so bad now, does it? And even if you go bankrupt, the pounds still stay in the family. Can you ask for more?
  2. Jogging memories – When a slice of time out of our busy lives is shared with those we like, it not just creates memorable moments but brings back memories too.  Between family and friends start conversations and reminiscences – about school time crushes and a billet doux gone waste. Candid confessions about cheating your best friend when you peeped over his Battle Ship table. Or worse still, admitting how you ganged up against your own brother to hunt him down in Scotland Yard when he was an unassuming 9-year-old and not the dentist that he is now. Or how you had full clue but acted clue less to let your dad win Cluedo on a Happy Father’s Day. Nothing refreshes you like looking back into the past, in time we call our present. And not many things can rivet you together like happily shared happy memories do.
  3. A little to learn – Life’s little instructions are hidden within the folds of board games. No, a 7-letter word does not necessarily mean your child will be the next spelling bee, thanks to Scrabble. Neither does world domination in Risk mean she will conquer her geography and score a 99/100 in her next exam. But as a tiny tot strives to understand how (fake) money exchanges hands, or how blank tiles make a whole new word, or even in figuring out how to reach Mr. X in time, the brain is going tick-tock-tick-tock, sans any iApp this time. Sprinkle on the game play a bit of good things – like team work, competitiveness and learning to lose, and isn’t it as good as good can get? Lessons learnt over fun, without even paying play-school or summer camp fee at that!
  4. Economics – Once upon a time, every invitee on your birthday party brought you a board game. It was such a rage that you could even guess with Superman’s vision which one lay sleeping inside the fancy wrapping. Gone are the days! They don’t come cheap, especially since they are such a rarity and never on anyone’s mind. Designer kinds like what Mr. Wood sells require thinking minds (not mine) and deeper wallets (certainly not mine). Be that as it may, board games are as economical as any shared play can get. You can sink ships, wage wars, own whole streets or go on detective missions, without a dreg of electricity or batteries. You spend once, and you can own your own Life for a lifetime. Lost a dice? Easily replaced. Broke a peg? Make your own. Some notes are missing? Just use tissue paper and get on with it, will you! Who’s turn now?
  5. Low maintenance – No recharge no cables. No spares no maintenance. Just a little space for a flat rectangular box. No pressure of upgrades or fear of low resale value. And always at your service. (Are we talking about the ideal husbands here? Oh! But I digress… )
  6. And of course, open that box just for the pure fun of it all. See your house reverberate with joyous laughter. See children contemplating their next move like grownups and grownups giggling like children. Go on! Tell me of another activity that is as special as this and I will change my dog’s name!

And thus I swear by my board games. I wish my son loves them too as much as his crazy parents do. I want him to feel the emotions that these games can produce in you. I want him to know how much can rest on one single roll of the dice – the joy, victory and oftentimes even pride. I just want him to know the magic that these boxes can contain and even more, the magical moments they can create.

While I wait for him to get toilet-trained and ready to sit for 4 hours at a stretch without blasphemously running off as Mr. Plum with Mrs. Peacock in the middle of it all, I’m considering starting a Board Game Club for all those who think like me. My life’s learning till now has been – the more the number of players the more interesting the game will be.

Now, who wants to sink some ships with me?

(PS – Many more games wanted to pose for the picture. I tried to make them, but the tower reached the fan. Please excuse the battered condition of the boxes you see. Blame it on them being my favourites.)

Sakshi Nanda went from studying Literature to serving the print media and finally settling with two publishing houses who called her editor for a couple of hard-bounds, no more! She writes as a work-from-home mother to realize herself as well as to be read, both – with her 2-year-old boy and her sarkari babu beau as the greatest source of ideas and inspiration. She believes eating baby food is therapeutic and that the pen is man’s best invention, after diapers that is! Meet her at: sakshinanda.blogspot.in

  • Oh Sakshi, the tales you weave! You just opened a carton full of memories. By shunning TV, I am just preparing ground for board games when my son grows up a little more. I and hubby still play Scrabble when the little one sleeps, either on Weekday nights or Weekend afternoons. But unlike old times, we don’t sit and play for hours, we fix time because once the sonny boy wakes up, he will willingly play with all the cards and we will have to buy new ones. We used to play Ludo also.
    And certainly, you are a gifted one..in writing. Don’t know about the board games. Need to play with you to find out ha ha!

    • Prepare that ground ASAP, Reema. Some healthy habits need to be introduced well-in-time! That’s what good parenting is about, isn’t it? We have our Scrabble nights, and some how or the other, we keep our boy busy elsewhere till we “fight” it out. 😀 Ludo, yes! I almost bought a bed sheet which had a giant Ludo printed in the middle of it. My husband made me see better and leave it for another day. 😛 How I wish I could play some with you. 🙂 Thanks for liking how I write. I assure you, I play board games even better. 😉

      • Sakshi, I realize at 2 my son is at the best age for introducing good habits. He quickly accepts them as a way of life. I realize it is not going to be that easy when he grows older, trying to ascertain his opinions and choices. Phew!
        Ludo-wala bedsheet! You are definitely ahead of me in this game though I get such crazy ideas too sometimes ha ha!

        • Believe me, he will accept the scrabble tiles without question. I’m sure it’s in his blood, like it is in mine’s. 😉 Board games have their magical ways of winning over complete families. Ludo-wala bed sheet I suddenly miss now. 🙁 I will buy 2 next time around and send one over, Reema. 😉

  • Excellent write up

  • Excellent write up and quite nostalgic. We used to play one game, forgot the name though. It’s like business and could buy cities and so many options. We played that game for hours during our school vacations 🙂

    • Thanks, Jahid. I think you speak of ‘Monopoly’, with it’s Indian version called ‘Business’. You could buy properties and build houses/hotels to collect rents. I still play it for hours. 🙂

  • Sakshi, couldn’t agree more with you on this one. How I wish my son to shun those video games and strange cartoons and embrace my kind of fun. My surprise knew no bounds when he reintroduced me to chess. High five for my kinda world! (Psst I suck at his playstation games)

    • (Psst, I do too 😉 Thanks for reading, Bushra.

  • Thanks for reliving your memories and in the process bringing back some good ol’ ones of mine back to the forefront 🙂

    In fact, my wife, sis in law, co brother and me did have a couple of sessions of Monopoly sometime when my wife was pregnant. Since then R has popped into our lives, we have changed cities and the board game lies quietly in a corner somewhere. But this post had rekindled my interest to try and dust it off and give it a another attempt 🙂

    Awesome post…

    • Happy that I have inspired such a wonderful move, Jairam. 😀 Go ahead and give it another attempt. I am sure you will not regret it. Neither will R. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  • Excellent write up! I remember there used to be Trade, Monoply, and Spell-o-fun those days. I wish that kids must develop interest in board games instead of video games. Do you play Scrabble on-line?

    • No, Usha, I have not played too many games online. I just assist my husband when he plays on the phone. Other wise, we mostly play the real Scrabble. You are welcome to join, though. 🙂

  • Board games are fun, I have been loosing a lot in chess lately to my elder one and Monopoly to the younger one. It does not help that the kids make their own rule when they want to win 🙂

    • It doesn’t help when husbands try to do the same either. Welcome a-Board fellow-sufferer. 🙂 Thanks for reading, Prasad. 🙂

  • yamini Vijendran

    Love your style of writing. You have inspired another one here to pursue board games more keenly. Thank you for that!

    • You are the one to inspire with your writing, not get inspired by amateur cooks like me. Thank you – for getting converted into playing board games keenly and liking my style of writing, both. 🙂

  • fabulous as always .. well I am stuck amid when I read this .. I dont know what is the choice of the kids of the date .. 🙁 and during my kid days .. i was always an outdoor chap.. cricket to gilli danda .. put me to any geographic condition I had outdoor games in my mind always .. yes teh post did remind me of carromboard and ludo .. the way u said used to bring the family together..I am of the family where Pappas are lions you avoid encounters … and the only moment we(my brothers too) could look or smile or laugh in front of the lion was while playing these board games 🙂

    • Oh MySay, I too have had contests for climbing the mango tree at home the highest possible, playing ‘tippie tippie top top’, being a perpetual batswoman (thanks to me bullying my cousins into it) for cricket, making sand castles, etc. With 6 kids around (joint family!) there were moments when everyone did not want to run around. So we used to sit on a ‘chatai’ and play board games. And for times called Now, they are quite an asset to have considering trees to climb and safe open spaces for kite flying we don’t. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!!!