Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Saturday Seven: Best Games Growing Up

At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, there was a time when board games were considered cool. This was before the age of the Internet, cable TV, Netflix, video games, XBOX or PlayStation. Growing up, Saturday nights at home meant meatloaf for dinner, ice cream for dessert, a little TV, and then an hour or two of playing games. The TV set was turned off and never left on as background noise. Growing up in my family, games were still considered the preferable method to have fun and pass time. While I never play board games and such anymore, they still evoke melancholic feelings and memories. This brings me to this week's edition of:
The Saturday Seven: Best Games Growing Up
#1 Monopoly
This is my favorite game on so many levels. It's great because it involves luck, strategy, and the roll of the dice, which determine whether players own properties or pay outrageous rents. I remember always having my favorite properties on the board (Park Place), and loved those "Chance?" cards in particular. As a kid during the summer months, my parents would stay up late with me and my brother playing Monopoly. We would get into debates and shouting matches over all sorts of aspects of the game, but all in good fun. Every so often I think about buying a new Monopoly game to play with friends after dinner. Hmmm why not, everyone knows how to play it,and its fun too!
#2 Clue
An absolute favorite for most of my childhood. Clue (known as Cluedo in the UK) takes place in a huge mansion, with the game board divided into different rooms of the house. There are several characters who are house guests. The owner, Mr. Boddy has been murdered. The objective is to solve the murder, by determining Who, Where and How. (suspect, room, and weapon). It was fun to solve the mystery and scream out: "Miss Scarlet, did it in the Library with the Lead Pipe!!!" I was a mini sleuth!
#3 Ouija Board
In case you didn't know, the word "Ouija" is from the French word "oui" (yes) and the German word "ja" (yes). Over the years the Ouija board was surrounded in mystery and fear. Legendary stories of people being possessed by the devil, haunted by spirits or driven insane only made playing this game more alluring. Growing up attending Catholic schools, this was strictly forbidden by the nuns, and as such was all the better. I have always had an innocent fascination with the occult, the paranormal and "the other side", so I was drawn to this game. Oddly enough, while in college I had roommates who liked to play the Ouija and I was always freaked out by the "messages from beyond." I knew, of course that they were just messing with me, but I was superstitious and never tempted fate.
#4 Operation
Operation was a child's game for sure, but how I loved it. No doubt you recall: remove body parts with a tethered pair of tweezers without touching the edges. "It takes a very steady hand!", the TV announcer would shout during the tv commercials. That buzz was so was by far the most annoying sound ever created. I always thought it was a bit gruesome to be harvesting body parts from this poor fat man. The thing about Operation is that even as a kid, I always thought it looked dated and old-fashioned. Aside from the battery and the light on his nose, the game was low-tech and needed some more style. I still enjoyed playing Operation, and it holds a special place in my mind.
#5 Twister
This was a great game when I was a very young kid, but it became uncool in my teens. However by the time I was in college, strangely enough it became a great game once again. It's amazing what a few beers and limited articles of clothing will do to increase interest in this Twister. Of course, as the game progresses, players have to contort themselves into precarious positions, which eventually leads to someone crashing down. Good clean fun as a child, Hedonistic delights as a college student. Oh the joy.
#6 Sorry!
Originally based on "Parcheesi", or the Ancient Indian "Pachisi". The objective of Sorry! is to be the first player to get all four pawns from the start square to the ending home square, using cards to advance your position. Since two pawns cannot occupy the same space, the name "Sorry" is derived from displacing someone else's pawn when you land on the same space. The result is that pawn must return to the starting square and falls behind. Sorry! was a game we played when we didn't want to think too much, and was a great way to take out any latent anger at friends or family!
#7 Connect Four
Nothing more than tic-tac-toe on a vertical board, this was a helluva fun game as a kid. I loved watching my opponent, and would employ the equivalent of "blocking" for their every move. I loved to be the kid who would get to release the lever at the bottom and let all the chips fall where they may. As long as I didn't have to sort out that wretched pile of red and black chips I fond I liked this game. As a side note, even as a kid I looked at this game and saw nothing but germs. I would think-OK, everyone has had their filthy fingers all over these chips. Gross!! Yeah, I was weird as a child.
Bonus: Hungry Hippos
Skill? Strategy? What skill? None needed thank you. Just tell me when to go at it and I'll start whaling on the hippos to make them eat everything in sight. It was a glutinous act that only an American child can appreciate.

If I've missed any great games of your childhood...weigh in with a comment and let me know.
-Rick Rockhill


Naomi said...

I enjoyed reading this post Rick. It took me back to my childhood. I used to play all these games. We have those in England. Our clue is called Cluedo. It's such a shame that a lot of kids don't play these games anymore as computers and modern technology has taken over. Congratulations on reaching no. 1 at Blog Village!

marlupe said...

classic games, one to add for e would be Candyland- when I was really little I lived that game.

Lewis said...

Oh my gosh, talk about a trip down memory lane. That damn Operation, if you'd had a coke or caffeine, your hands would shake just enough to send that little buzzer into action.....and scare the bee-jeezus outta me. You've reminded me of a post I've had in my head for some time. I'll try to get it done today.

Laura said...

My son loves to play Monopoly but I find it kind of boring. We have the Junior version. Connect Four is also one of my favorites, although easy it can be tricky

astroboy said...

i think for classic games, there are a few other interesting ones like mad magazine (reverse of monopoly) and scotland yard. I am not sure if you are familiar with euro games though :)

Do join our forum too at

Anonymous said...

blimey, those go back a ways.

Tahir said...

Great list and glad you enjoyed the games I enjoyed. Not sure how I managed to miss Monopoly out though as it was actually one of my favourite board gamse.

Ken said...

connect 4 was kinda lame when you think about it. but Clue rocks. what about scrabble-too nerdy?

Crazy Eddie said...

Wow. I felt like I was sucked into a time warp when I saw the games. Monopoly, Operation... OMG. I particularly remember TROUBLE and PERFECTION...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane pa...


Anonymous said...

My daughter loves candyland. One you forgot was called Peanut Butter and Jelly. Its hard to find though.

derek said...

thanks for this journey down memory lane, loved it.

Charles George Taylor said...

I enjoyed your ouija story. thanks for pointing it out to me. I had all those games.


Nathaniel Todd said...

I remember most of those games too, I'd add Risk and Stratego to that list as well, although they certainly weren't for very young children.

You should know that the quality of board games today is better than ever (although popularity may not be the same, i don't know). There are a host of board games that have been developed over the last 20 years or so, many geared as much or more to adults than to kids, and many of them are an absolute joy to play. Do yourself a favor and take a look at Settler's of Catan and Carcassonne by searching for them online. I think you may be pleasantly surprised by how much life is left in the board game concept.

If you have a moment, take a look at my blog. It's just a baby, but hopefully will grow!


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