In Praise of (Brutal) Board Games!


Photo by Flickr User frankieleon, retrieved on October 10, 2017. Licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0).

Those sweet, educational games like Guess Who have their place, I guess. I mean, who wouldn’t want to while away the afternoon building your child’s logic skills — and your own — by ruling out the mustached men or the red-haired women? Not exactly a thrill ride, but count me in for two — OK, three — games.

Sequence for Kids starts to get little more fun. If your child is about to win, you can pull out your Dorothy the Dragon card and remove one of your child’s chips — perhaps setting off a minor (or major) tantrum. Now we’re teaching our children a worthy lesson: Just as Daddy giveth, Daddy taketh away!

Your preschooler probably loves Candy Land as much as candy itself. Mine did. While this game seems sweet, it can leave a sour taste in your mouth. Just ask the kid who picks the Gumdrop Mountains card (those mountains you pass near the beginning of the game) right as they are about to win. Now Johnny is learning about unexpected setbacks.

What are our children learning from Chutes and Ladders? Probably a lesson that some of us are still learning many years later: There’s a lot of chance to life. You can be riding high, or just going about your business, when . . . down you slide! Play enough games and your child may come to doubt the existence of free will.

A game of Parcheesi will certainly tell you something about your child: Are they more excited about winning or blocking you from winning? I remember maintaining those blockades for a loooong time, much longer than it made sense to do.

Sorry! Is my all-time favorite because it’s the most brutal. I have a fairly well-developed upper limbic system, but sometimes I struggle to keep it together when my daughter sends me home when I’m just about to win — for the gazillionth time. And she’s never sorry at all!

When you and your child can laugh about all the setbacks and injustices that these games visit upon us, well, I think you’ve all learned something worthwhile. I’m still a work in progress.

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In Praise of (Brutal) Board Games!
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