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North Hills Monthly

Tech Takes a Back Seat on Game Night

Dec 30, 2014 12:10PM ● By Larry Richert
What’s old is new again…while everyone is hurling into this new year technologically tethered through social media to hundreds, if not thousands, of friends on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts, there is a retro movement underway that flies in the face of this new age. Board games are being rediscovered by human beings craving to interact with other human beings face-to-face; even (could it be?) without Smartphones.

Long before cable TV, personal computers and the Internet provided a distraction from everything else, people used to play board games at home for entertainment. The ‘battles’ among family and friends while playing these games are legendary in many families—including my own.

I grew up with three brothers, a younger sister and a very engaged set of parents who liked to play games, too. Off the top of my head, I think the game that was probably the one we played the most was Yahtzee. This simple dice game provided a level of entertainment that kept all parties interested, and was one of the less antagonistic games to play. Scrabble was also in the mix, and was considered old school even then. Trivial Pursuit came later, and then the wheels came off of civility. I’m not sure why that was, but people seemed to get emotional during that game.

When my wife and I started our own family, the Trivial Pursuit games became legendary. My father-in-law would pre-read the cards and then load up on those colorful pies to fill his wheel. This used to drive my mother-in-law crazy and she would yell out, “Dan!” I’m pretty sure that’s why he did it—just to get her fired up.

Recently, on my way to bed, I heard my family discussing playing a new game. My 3 a.m. wake-up call precluded me from participating in the Cards Against Humanity game with my children and their friends, but the game seems to be gaining popularity even though its marketing pitch is that it’s a game “for horrible people.” Obviously I missed something, but I sure did hear a lot of laughing going on.

The good news in all of this is that young people are discovering the concept of playing board games. It’s hard to think of anything else that would rip them away from video games or playing Candy Crush on their phones, or get them to sit down long enough to hang with family and friends. My crew even went back three generations and played Monopoly, although we argued over the rules for a solid hour and a half. I guess that never changes.

Do you know what the top 10 board games of all-time are? According to, they are:
  1. Chess
  2. Checkers
  3. Backgammon
  4. Scrabble
  5. Monopoly
  6. Clue
  7. Othello
  8. Trivial Pursuit
  9. Pictionary – Charades turned TV show, turned board game.
  10. Risk – My brother, Dave, loved this game of world domination.
The top three date back thousands of years and still remain popular—that’s amazing!

I would be remiss to leave out the honorable mention of kids’ games like Chutes and Ladders, Don’t Break The Ice, Hungry, Hungry Hippo, Life, Parcheesi, Sorry, and of course, the ever popular Candyland.

If you haven’t played board games in a while, you might want to give it a go while we enjoy the next polar vortex, which is no game at all. Just be careful…these games should come with a disclaimer: May cause high emotions and mood swings in family members and friends that could result in feelings being hurt, resulting in permanent—and sometimes hilarious—memories.