Every week on Monday, the WoW! community and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week’s question: What Are Your Favorite Games? Why?
I love playing games. Indeed, I come from the generation that still played games with other people, rather than with computers. Board games, card games, social interactive games . . . it’s all good. Here, in no particular order, is a list of games that delight me:
I Doubt It (known by my children’s generation as “Bullsh*t.”)
Mensch ärgere Dich nicht (which I think compares to the American game of Sorry).
Yahtzee! (or as my father called it, “Poker Dice.”)
Chutes and Ladders (a little children’s game that I never outgrew)
Mah Jong (which I haven’t played in 35 years)
Cribbage (which I haven’t played in 37 years)
The Game of Life (the original version, not the revamped one)
Checkers (although I can’t play chess to save my life, I used to be good at checkers)
I also love doing jigsaw puzzles, provided that I do them with friends.
And finally, my favorite game has no name that I know. My niece just came home from college one day and taught it to us. It’s best played with around 6-8 people, although it can be played with more (we’ve played with 14 or even more). Everyone playing is given blank slips of paper onto which they have to write the name of a person or character. It doesn’t matter if the person is living or dead, or real or fictional. The players then fold those slips in half and place them in a large bowl. The ultimate goal is to have 25-50 slips of paper in the bowl, so the number of slips a person fills out depends on the number of players.
The group is then divided into two teams. The first round is like a guessing game. One member of the team pulls out slips of paper and, without ever mentioning name of the person on the slip of paper, tries to get his team to guess it. Thus, for Marilyn Monroe, the team member might say, “She was a big Hollywood star in the 1950s who was known for being blonde and sexy.” If his teammates look at him blankly, he keeps giving more clues.
The goal is to get through as many slips of paper as possible within one minute. Those slips that the team guessed correctly are collected next to the bowl and the team score for that round is based upon the number of slips the team successfully guessed. The slips are not returned to the bowl under the second round.
At the minute mark, the bowl passes to the other team, which does the same thing. The two teams go back and forth until the bowl is empty. Each time a team gets the bowl, a different team member is tagged to give the clues.
When the bowl is empty, if there’s still time on the clock, the play doesn’t stop. Instead, the second round begins immediately. All the slips are dumped back in the bowl and playing resumes. In round two, though, the player giving the clues is limited to one word. Marilyn Monroe is now “blonde” or “sexy.” Having given the word, the clue-giver hopes that his team members make the connection, because he is limited to that one word. If his teammates don’t get it . . . tough.
This part of the game is where the fun really starts, because although people think they’ll remember all the names and clues from the first round, they don’t. It’s funny to watch people struggle to come up with one-word clues and then sit there suffering as their teammates pull complete blanks. Of course, sometimes teams are on a roll and they may rack up 9 or 10 points in a one-minute cycle.
As with the first round, at the minute mark, the bowl passes to the other team, and so it goes, back and forth, with each team member taking turns to give one-word clues for that minute.
Round three has the same pattern as round two. If the clock is still ticking when the bowl is finally empty, the play doesn’t stop. The slips of paper are once again put into the bowl and whoever is up pulls out a slip . . . but this time, the clue-giver is limited to silent charades.
Again, in theory this seems easy, because everyone has heard the names twice before, but it’s not easy at all. If you have 40, 50, or even 60 slips in the bowl, memory flies out the door. Also, when people are time pressed, they make very funny choices when doing charades. At the end of this laugh-inducing third round, the game ends, and the team with the highest score wins.
One nuance: The technical rule is that, once you’ve pulled a slip out of the bowl, you’re stuck with it even if you don’t know who the name is or, in round two or three, can’t remember what attributes go with the name. In my house, we’ve had to soften this rule when playing with very different generations because the old folks and the young folks do not share a common popular culture. I don’t know YouTube stars and the kids don’t know historic figures. At this point, we turn to the honor system. If it’s hard, the player has to do it, even if he thinks he’ll wipe out during his turn. However, if he genuinely has no idea who’s on the slip of paper, he can replace it in the bowl and pick out another one.
I’m sure their more games that I’ve forgotten. So much of my childhood was spent playing games, many of them run together in my mind.
JoshuaPundit: When I was younger I used to enjoy ping pong and pool, but I haven’t played them in quite some time. Most of the games I play lately are strategy type game of one kind or another. I enjoy a game of chess and its East Asian equivalent Go when I can find someone to play with. It’s interesting because the strategies involved are almost opposite in some ways. I also love backgammon.
I also find historically accurate computer strategy games interesting from time to time since I find history fascinating. I own a copy of a SOTA very accurate Civil War simulation, a relic of a forum I once participated in that covers the entire conflict. I also have a number of modded games covering different eras of history that involve both building trade and economy as well as war strategies. Basically, these are advanced chess games with different pieces when it comes down to it!
I also used to like Sim City because building a city can be fascinating as well,but I lost interest when the game got into some of its more outre’ versions.
Stately McDaniel Manor: As a youngster, I often played Monopoly with my mother and younger sister. During my high school years, I played epic games of ping pong with my best friend and others, and was reasonably accomplished, during those days, at air hockey. I even played Pong when it was first invented and was available only as an arcade game.
As time passed, I bought one of the first Atari home video systems and played Space Invaders and similar games, but as my career demanded more and more of my time, I had the choice of playing games or spending more time with my wife. It wasn’t a close choice. I played as a child and it became time to put away childish things. However, I did play Trivial Pursuit when it was new, but after one or two rounds, most people would no longer play me: I tend to remember virtually everything I read or see. I don’t imagine it was very much fun to play with me.
As video games became more and more sophisticated, I wasn’t the least tempted. Shooter games? Been there, done that in reality. Such games hold no fascination.
Now, with my musical and teaching obligations, and my writing habit (I write at least one article a day for Stately McDaniel Manor and WoW), I’ve no time for games. I have a hard enough time getting in sufficient exercise through bike rides and, occasionally, fencing and weights. I suppose those are my games these days, that and reading whenever possible. I have, with those pursuits, filled more time than most days can hold, and the intellectual stimulation games may produce, I have in spades.
I don’t look down on those that play games, I’ve simply ordered my life in ways that take their place, and wouldn’t allow them if I were inclined to want to include them.
Laura Rambeau Lee, Right Reason: My favorite games are trivia games. While I was never the last one chosen for athletic games like dodge ball I was never the first one either. I’ve always been just an average athlete.
But somewhere along the line, while everyone else was studying for tests only to quickly forget, I committed massive amounts of useless information to memory and somehow have been able to retain quite a bit of it. I am an avid Jeopardy! watcher and get an odd thrill of satisfaction when all three contestants are unable to come up with the correct answer (in the form of a question thank you) in Final Jeopardy and I know it.
When I am flying I love it when they have trivia games to play. I will usually play most of the flight and almost always end up with the highest score. When getting together with family and friends we usually end up playing games and if we play a trivia game everyone wants me on their team. So I guess while I wasn’t a great athlete I discovered and honed my own special talent and have enjoyed many hours recalling obscure facts and information to the amazement and wonder of my friends and family.
The Razor: The first video game I ever played was tennis on the Magnavox Odyssey in 1973 or 74 at a sister’s house. Since I was the youngest with grown siblings I used to play board games by myself, with the 1971 politically themed Landslide! a favorite. 5 or 6 years later I convinced my mom to buy me an Atari 2600 for Christmas. Even though we were poor and living on income from her independent sales job, she spoiled me and I found it under the Christmas tree. From that point on computer games would be a part of my life.
In 1991 the computer game Civilization was released. It almost caused me to flunk a quarter in college. For the first 3 days I stayed in my apartment in a tatty robe with little sleep, skipping classes and drinking coffee as I took over the world. Ironically this past Friday version 6 of that game was released. It is now loaded on my PC waiting for me to indulge my craving for world conques
The Glittering Eye: I guess the question of my favorite game depends on the operative definition of “game”. I’ll leave out kendo and judo.
I like all sorts of games. I’ve played bridge competitively. I like Scrabble, Anagrams, Boggle, Uno, and Trivial Pursuit. I like most board games like Monopoly, Sorry, and so on. When I was a kid I even played Barbie’s Dream Date with my sisters. Once upon a time I spent hour after hour playing tactics games like Gettysburg, Stalingrad, and Tactics II.
These days the games I play most frequently are PC-based role-playing games. I’ve played Skyrim from beginning to end a half dozen times and right now I’m about midway through my seventh playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Make sure to drop by every Monday for the WoW! Magazine Forum. And enjoy WoW! Magazine 24-7 with some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere. Take from me, you won’t want to miss it.