Too bored to board?

When I was a kid, games were big in my family. We all learnt very early how to play a variety of card games – poker, canasta, blackjack, rummy – and we spent many happy family evenings battling it out on the Monopoly, Movie-maker, Pictionary or Trivial Pursuit board.

By the time my own kids were old enough to learn the basic rules of board and card games, television had become the entertainment of choice. So, in the evenings, after dinner, they usually opted to use up their allocated 1½ hours of viewing; board games were boring by comparison.

I didn’t realise how much I’d missed those family games evenings until my kids grew into teenagers and, by coincidence, 30 Seconds hit the market. And it was when my kids’ friends came to stay over for weekends and keenly joined in that I realised that the appeal of these kinds of games spans all ages and crosses other divides too – because we live in a country town, many of my children’s mates’ home language is Afrikaans.

On these occasions, our teams could be made up of people ranging in age from under 20 to over 70 and speaking at least two different languages (the person asking the questions is always permitted to do so in his/her home language).

One of the best things about these sometimes rather frenetic interactions is how everyone – no matter how old or dignified, how young and keen –screws up at some stage. It’s an exercise in humility, but the embarrassment doesn’t last long because the action quickly moves on. It’s a wonderful bonding experience, and usually, when the game is over, everyone lingers at the table, laughing over what’s come up, and then moving on into more measured and wider discussions.

As a result, TV is often completely forgotten, and disparate groups of people who might never otherwise spend time together get a valuable glimpse into each other’s lives and minds. And for parents and teenagers, who are often at loggerheads about what constitutes a fun time, it’s a safe and friendly common ground for letting off some harmless steam.

Although everyone loves to show off their general knowledge, the most fun we get out of 30 Seconds are the wrong answers, not the right ones. Here are a few recent crackers:
Question: ‘Harry’s title? Response: ‘Potter!’
Question: ‘Famous American road that’s celebrated in song?’ Guess: ‘Route 67?’ Prompt: ‘No, one less!’ Response: ‘Route 65?’
Question: ‘Animated movie about two dogs?’ Response: ‘101 Dalmations!’
Question: ‘The movie with the Orca in it?’ Response: ‘Lord of the Rings!’
Question: ‘The shape where planes disappear?’ Response: ‘Trafalgar Square!

Get back to board games, choose your favourite of the games families play.

Do you and your family play games? Do you have happy childhood memories of a game?

Read more by Tracey Hawthorne
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