When I was younger, my family used to play a lot of board games. Sure, it must have started out with things like Candyland and Snakes and Ladders, but pretty quickly we progressed to some serious board game playing. That's not to say that we didn't also play The Game of Life or Clue or Yahtzee sometimes too. We just weren't as serious about it.
And if you didn't know beforehand, know this about my family: we play to win. Only I didn't know that until recently. I would have never considered myself a competitive person, but I think growing up with a father and brother who were ruthless and determined to win every single time has rubbed off on me a little bit.
The game we probably played most often? Scattergories. Now Scattergories is my kind of game. I love word games. Scrabble, Boggle. But I think Scattergories is my favourite. It brings back memories of my dad and David and I sitting around the dining table squabbling over our answers. With that awful buzzer that scares the crap out of me still. So, so many fond memories of playing this game growing up. N and I play this now with our group of friends and I have a reputation now of taking the game 'too seriously' whatever that means!
The other thing, we used to do a lot, is play dominoes. I know it isn't technically a board game, but it is so definitive of my childhood that I had to include it. There was something a bit ritual about playing dominoes in our house. It would always happen in a certain way. I was always sitting opposite my dad, David was always sitting to the right of us. The dominoes would all be on the table, facing downward and my dad would shuffle the dominoes in these great big arm sweeps. I could close my eyes now and see the entire thing in my head for always.
As we were playing, my dad would offer advice and suggestions and when I was little and didn't know which domino to put down, he'd help me. We'd flip over my dominoes and he'd explain which one he thought I should put down and why the others wouldn't be suitable. I love playing dominoes.
We were never much for Chess or Checkers or even Risk like some other people I knew. But we were pretty big on our Monopoly. Like any family, we'd play by our own rules. Games would go on forever and it'd be these epic evenings of laughing and arguing and the constant repetition of going around and around the blasted board until finally, inevitably, I lost or gave up. I was definitely a spoilt brat and this would always be the board game where I'd get frustrated and might tip over the board because I'd landed on David's hotelled piece of property when I just needed to get past two more squares and be safe. Nobody wanted to play Monopoly with me after awhile!
Strangely, as I grew older, I came to collect different Monopoly boards. I have Monopoly boards from different places I've been (Seattle, LA, one University of Oregon board), I have a special edition Sydney Olympics board but my prized possession amongst this collection is my absolutely beautiful Wizard of Oz Monopoly board with the most gorgeous little pieces. N and I don't often (ever) play Monopoly, so I have no idea what I'm doing with this weird collection, but there you have it.
No, with N it's always been a different set of board games. I remember on one of our first dates, you might call them, we played a game of Scrabble in the cafe connected to Borders. It went on a little long, and N eventually started moving the pieces around (the cheat!) and I'd end up saying things like 'wow, that's a really great word!' all impressed when in fact, he was a big cheater! :) Still, I love to play Scrabble with him. We've bought ourselves a really fancy Scrabble board that I keep under my bedside table just in case either of us really feels like a late night game. Aren't we so rock-and-roll, eh?
And if I'm not mistaken, his family grew up playing Trivial Pursuit. I don't think I remember ever really playing it before I moved to England. We've got his old board, bought in the early 80s and it looks it. The questions are hilariously dated and obviously aimed at a British audience, so I lose quite often playing this game. We've since bought ourselves a Disney Trivial Pursuit (which I kick-ass at) as well as a more up-to-date version, though I don't remember us ever playing. I insist on placing the wedges into the little circle-thing in the same order that the colours are around on the board. Doesn't everyone?
I think the best part about how we play board games now is that we'll get a group together and play. It's quite fun, when a few friends come around and we stay up incredibly late playing board games. So we really try to choose games like Cranium that need more players. I remember once, the hilarity that ensued after someone chose to act out the 'International Sheepdog Trials' and leaped around the living room. Yes, I'm still laughing.
There are others. We have board games just about everywhere. The boys have their Hungry Hippos and children's board games. We keep some board games in the garage for easy access when our friends come around. There's another set of board games upstairs (Friends Scene-It springs to mind!) and I really treasure my memories of family-board-games and want to share that with my boys growing up. It's a thought that makes me happy.
Here are my favourite board games, what are yours?