Sunday, 19 May 2013

Bored games

In the first post I wrote for this blog I talked about games and the differences between traditional board games and the modern equivalent, video games.
I recall that a year or two ago there was a report that UK sales of board games had seen a huge increase which I suspect was linked to the end-of-year-silly-holiday. The time of year when everybody knows that there's going to be bugger all to do for a few days, so people think it would be a good idea to inspire a bit of old-school family togetherness by forcing everyone to sit around playing the latest attempt at electricity-free entertainment.
Every year sees the release of a couple of new board games, all designed by people who believe that they can eliminate the global need for Playstations with a new and confusing way of moving a plastic counter from one bit of a printed board to another bit over a period of 2-4 hours.
Many of us try to keep alive the methods of entertainment we remember from our childhood by insisting that our own kids extract themselves from Facebook and actually go out to socialise with their friends, or go for a bike ride instead of shooting zombies in the face on the Xbox. This effort is always doomed to failure because whether we like it or not, things have changed.
Bringing out a board game these days is a surefire way to alienate at least some of your intended victims. Children automatically mistrust anything that doesn't plug into a power supply and preferably the internet as well, so they will be the most reluctant participants. The idea that they have to learn the rules is too much like learning stuff at school for them to bear, so they either have a hissy fit over the 'stupid' game or become a zombie like the ones they wish they were shooting instead.
By the time the rules have been established and the game is underway, boredom is already setting in and it's usually only thanks to the players propensity for alcohol consumption that a game ever gets played to its conclusion, at which point the collective sense of relief that it's finally over is plain to all. Packing away a board game is always carried out with considerably more enthusiasm than it was unpacked with, and generally accompanied by another glass of happy juice to get over the shock of having wasted time that would have been better spent doing pretty much anything else.
Board games have had their day and even if the day comes when the survivors of the apocalypse are camped out in a desolate cave somewhere, and some bright spark combines a handful of interestingly shaped stones with a grid of squares scratched crudely into the dirt on the floor, a primal instinct will seize the onlookers who will proceed to insert the playing pieces into every available orifice in the inventors body.
We're now too used to our entertainment being based around video games, TV and YouTube to turn things around. Board games are as dead as the next wave of zombies. Perhaps it's time to accept it.

The kids greeted the suggestion of a game of Monopoly with limited enthusiasm...