AN UNUSUAL DINNER
It was a usual dinner invite. With a Gujarati dinner, expect a lot of conversations on politics and share market. Yet this invite turned out to be different. And I wouldn’t have expected this of all the places in Vadodara. After a lovely sumptuous mix of kebabs and chapattis, in came the unexpected board game. The family of four, which included two young creatives, one the daughter and other the daughter in law, were all excited about the tiles and the cards.
This gets us all together said Abbas bhai, the head of the family and my very dear friend. We started with a basic word builder the Upword. Upword is a game very similar to Scrabble. Unlike Scrabble, in Upwords players can place letters on top of existing letters to change a word that is already on the board. So tank can become rank and will can be mill. My daughters loved it. For a moment, I forget who was 14 and who was 40. All became and behaved as kids. A little while into the game, the decks changed.
When the minds were just getting exhausted, in came the scrambled Pictureka. A simple game of who finds first. There are three categories of cards. One with words, second with a note and third with pictures. So you are either finding a snowman or something that swims and simply a fish! And even my four-year-old had something to find.
Over the next two hours, we have board games from the ever effervescent Scrabble to the more sturdy Taboo. The host and the guest become one. We screamed and fought. Someone shouted, ‘that’s cheating’ while others laughed out loud. Louder than the ones you let out while watching Just for Gags! It rekindled my love in the world of board games.
LONG LONG AGO
Long when we were kids and the days of mobiles & apps had not dawned upon us, and there were power cuts and the families spoke to each other over dinner, and the neighbours knew the other’s kids, and Sportstar was still providing cricket news instead of Cricbuzz, and Harry Potter was not born, we played simple games like Ludo, Snakes & Ladder and Chinese Checkers.
The world of board games was magical. We were exported to unknown the lands. Scrambling a dictionary to check if the word existed while playing Scrabble to becoming an entrepreneur in Monopoly. As the gaming world grew creative, so did the board games. While I would share the new and exciting games as we get along, it would be worth-while to find out the benefits of these games.
TIME TO GET THE BOARDS TO LIFE AGAIN
Time to be together – If there is one thing, your child needs, then it must be YOU. These games are your time to bond with them. Share your experience. Share a joke. Share your expectations. Above all, share the memories.
Try the Monopoly Junior. It is far less complicated and is relatively shorter game. Also uses smaller currency denomination, so kids can buy and sell with ease. Here is an entrepreneur emerging right under your wings.
Learn Social skills – These games teach huge values in simple turns. Rolls of dice teach us to wait for our turn. Things don’t turn out the way we might want them to be, says so much about how life really is. By the way, The Game of Life is almost a mini trailer of every person’s life. I still recall learning about mid-life crisis from this game. Perhaps helped me prepare better so as to be able to overcome and sail pass the mid-life!
Unplugged – For once you are not looking at a screen or consuming battery power or electricity. The board games are quiet, perhaps teaching the virtue of observation. Yes, the games are loud but it does not need an extra music playing in the background. You make your own music! These games can just be wrapped and taken to school and parties alike.
GAMES OF LOGIC
Puzzles are the most logical extension for Big Picture thinking. As the child places together the jigsaw pieces, she is thinking of the bigger goal in mind. She searches for a small clue and assembles the whole picture. Try the MadRat Games Madzzle series are now remodeled in nice capsules and a roll-up puzzle base with some really exciting themes ranging from The Dinosaurs, Amazon, World Mega-structure and Pyramid among others.
Among my favourite is the BattleShip. An exciting game that keeps, even the boys, challenged. While you are destroying the submarines and aircraft carriers, the game takes you to a new world where Math is possible. Without ever using pen and paper, the kids are learning the XY quadrant. They are hitting A5 and G9. Making strategies.
Placing the ships in the least likely of places. This game also is one of the most loved ones perhaps owing to its nice assembly of pegs, ships and a smart game board. Try your hands at this naval warfare game.
The joy of board game comes from the immense satisfaction of accomplishing a task or achieving a feat. The stimulation levels are on par with that of a video game. Plus it is a team sport. The very adjectives like collaboration and creativity come to the fore.
Take the example of another stimulating game based on clues and shrewdness, The Scotland Yard. Originally Scotland Yard is the police force responsible for keeping the streets of London free from crime and violence. In this game, one of the players takes on the role of Mr. X. As a member of the Scotland Yard, the rest of the team’s job is tracing Mister X’s route all around London as he travels by taxi, bus and underground. Get ready to travel the streets of London as you outthink your opponent.
This game needs attention as well as planning and it is just as exciting as watching an IPL match. But we need to get started first!
On the heels of Scotland Yard are similar games like Cluedo and Guess Who. Cluedo is a classic mystery game where you solve a crime while Guess Who is a child-friendly variant. Guess Who involves deducing the identity of their opponent’s mystery person by asking right questions. All in all, games that get your grey cells active.
GAMES TO PLAY
When it comes to games, we are spoilt with the choices. Over the article, I have tried to add examples of as many games as possible, both old and the new. Some of the games are those you would have surely played or at-least come across. Others might be new. The games range from multiple genres. From strategy to language. From arts as in picture and memory to logical as in puzzles.
There is a new positive fad, where adults get together to play the board games. Celebrities from Sachin Tendulkar to Nicholas Cage are fans too. In fact Jessica Alba, The Fantastic Four actress, plays a lot of board games and is a fan of Apples to Apples. Hopefully, the trend would continue and soon move on to our schools and students.
So go ahead, play the Board – where you achieve amazing victory, solve a mystery and build up your vocabulary.
Games featured in the article:
· Upword [8+; language]
· Pictureka [6+; spatial]
· Scrabble [7+; language]
· Taboo [12+; language]
· BattleShip [7+; tactical, maths]
· Scotland Yard [10+; logic]
· Cluedo [10+; logic]
· Guess Who [6+; mystery]
· Monopoly Junior [7+; business, currency]
· Game of Life [8+; life skills, relationships]
· Connect 4 [6+; maze, symmetry]
· Madrat Puzzles [8+; logic & puzzle]
· Apples to Apples [10+; analysis]
Note: Pictures used in the article have been provided by the author.