Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Most Dangerous Game

By Michael

I don’t play board games, a fact that annoys the rest of my family, especially my daughter who would happily spend every afternoon cycling through Monopoly, Risk, and Clue, reserving backgammon (her favorite) for the couple of hours between dinner and bedtime. My sons have started playing chess – a game I admire but little understand – and also play Risk and sometimes Battleship: the common themes are territorial incursion and world domination. My wife will play any game, though like my daughter she’s partial to backgammon.

My intolerance extends to most card games. I can manage a few hands of blackjack because they last, on an average, three or four seconds. If I’m in northern Canada and the weather is bad and the bookshelves are bare and the power is out, I’ll play a game of Gin Rummy without complaining. Same thing goes for getting stuck overnight in an airport -- as long as the airport is in northern Canada. I’ve sometimes enjoyed playing Scrabble, but only against linguistically challenged opponents, which is to say, only when I’ve won.

I suspect I would like these games better if we changed the rules every fifteen minutes. For instance, all the pawns would move like queens and then at the fifteen-minute buzzer if your fingers so much as touched a rook an electric shock would knock you off your chair. Or Colonel Mustard would be having an affair with Professor Plum and would refuse to betray him and then at the buzzer Mrs. Peacock would become a homicidal maniac and march over the board knocking down the other game pieces.

But for now, I’ll sit on the sofa reading a newspaper while the rest of my family maneuvers to buy Park Place. If my kids get upset because they’re losing, I’ll offer fatherly advice about how to be good sports. And if my advice fails to calm them (as it inevitably will), I’ll tell them to pretend the dice are asteroids and their goal is to wipe out the houses and hotels at Marvin Gardens.


lil Gluckstern said...

You do know that this is unusual today. Families in one room playing board games with you watching over them benignly is a picture that is very different from the blaring and blasting of computer games. Of course, your image of crashing through characters, and buzzers and changing roles on the chessboard doesn't sound quite so benign to me.
P.S. I really like your books.

Michael Wiley said...

My kids spend a lot of time on the computer, but we've discouraged computer games -- not that they're necessarily worse than other games, though they're less "social." I sometimes second guess the decision to discourage, especially when the "social" games break into minor or major sibling warfare.

p.s. Thanks!

Gabi said...

I've heard the rumors about the Colonel and the Professor but, until now, haven't paid them any credence. What is happening in the Conservatory anyway? And isn't trysting the only reason we need secret passageways?

Michael Wiley said...

I can confirm it's true, Gabi. I've seen them in the Conservatory -- and in the secret passageways too.