The games people play


Dan St. Yves 2005During some of those cold, wintry weekend days and nights ahead when one doesn’t quite feel like jogging through eight-foot snowdrifts, one just might find themselves dusting off a classic board game, like Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit.

Not restricted exclusively to family gatherings, board games used to be a popular group pastime among humans, back before the days of televised dancing with stars. Back before Nintendo, Sony and Wii invented hardware capable of gluing you into the family room sofa. Back before movies on demand and bulk bags of Cheezies.

That said, in some ways board games were kind of like the forerunner of reality TV. Most often a large family would break into groups (tribes), and after much competition (peppered with cheating, taunting, begging and balderdash), one side would emerge victorious hours later, much like your average 12-week reality series run on syndicated television. The “food challenge” wouldn’t be an intentional part of the actual competition, it would simply be a bit of a bonus to see who would survive chewing on thawed shrimp and Jalapeno cheese puffs that had been lying on an open tray for eight hours, in a room warmed by body heat, after-dinner natural gas, and airborne sneeze particles.

Board games of old could be as simple as rolling a pair of dice and moving tokens around a game board, or they could be as elaborate as a murder mystery, requiring participants to role-play, and determine who did what when, where, and why. Sometimes how. A detective-style game like Clue somewhat mirrors popular forensic science shows such as CSI and the like. Well, maybe not so much forensic science, but upon solving imaginary crimes perpetrated by fellow players through a process of elimination, standard game pieces were rather easy to identify. Candlesticks and lead pipes were most often to blame for an imaginary character’s demise. That dastardly Colonel Mustard was never much one for originality. Just once I would’ve liked to have seen Mrs. Pistachio whack him in say.…the gazebo, with a pitching wedge. If for no other reason than a bit of variety.

The more modern board games come souped-up with all kinds of bells and whistles. It could be some form of computerized game board, voice-chip technology or trivia questions. The newest version of Trivial Pursuit is on DVD, so that those obscure questions like “Which company printed posters for the 1977 civic election candidate slate in Yak Junction” become even easier to guess, while staring at a digitally scrambled picture on the TV screen.

Hey, even playing board games, we’re back in front of that darn TV again.

No afternoon or evening spent playing games would be complete without hearing one (or all) of the following phrases: “Sure they’re winning. They get all the EASY questions…”

“Are we done yet? I think I see the sun rising…”

“I’ve won! I’ve won! Thanks for the game, LOSERS!”

“You landed on my property, with six hotels. My lawyers will be in touch…”

“Who wanted to play this stupid game in the first place???”

 Hang in there folks – spring will come eventually.

Humour columnist and author Dan St. Yves was licensed with Royal LePage Kelowna for 11 years. Check out his website at, or contact him at [email protected].


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