Game on

It’s probably pretty clear from previous entries in this blog that I like to read. A lot. In fact, a psychologist I met at church once noted that we all had obsessions, and I confessed that mine was books. She paused, looked at me and said, “Well, there are a lot worse ones to have.”

She was undoubtedly right, but I have another, slightly less obvious obsession. I love playing online games.

Now, playing games is an old, old practice. Our tour guide in Egypt brought that message home when he pointed out faint markings scratched in the stone walks surrounding a temple where ancient Egyptians came to be healed. The squares were a game, which patients etched in the walkways where they sat and waited. I can just imagine mothers trying to distract sick, bored, and wiggly children. Been there, done that, in many a doctor’s office. A moment of sympathy flashed across the millennia between us.

Slightly more recently, I played lots of games as a kid. Some of these were games my mother made up to keep us from getting too restless while we waited for the doctor to appear, the dentist to finish, the tennis lesson to end, whatever. My favorite was always seeing how many words you could make out of one word. (I’m pretty good at Wordle now, partly as a result.) And we played a boxed game she had as a kid. It was called Fibber McGee and Molly and was based on an old radio show. Basically it’s the same idea as MadLibs, which we played in the car with our kids for ages.

Some of the board games my family had included really obscure ones, like Video Village, which was a version of a TV show, and Broker, which dealt with the stock market and which my brother adored. (FYI he rebelled against capitalism en toto in the 1960s, but that might just have been a coincidence.) I like Clue – I still love mysteries – and a game called Careers, where you could become an actor or a farmer or astronaut, etc., etc. You got points for endeavors in your field. I loathed Monopoly and still do to this day. I played with my sister, who’s several years older than I am and was (and still is) a wee bit competitive. When I was five and she was 11, let’s just say that she understood a lot more about real estate (not to mention addition and subtraction) than I did. Scars remain.

In high school, my friends and I played a lot of Spades in between rounds at speech tournaments and, as old-fashioned as it sounds, Charades at parties. Note: do not let debate partners play on teams in these games. They spend so much time with each other that they kind of know what the other person is thinking. Sadly, I was never invited to a party where we played Spin the Bottle. But I’ve been happily married for 37 years now, so I guess I made up for lost time.

The games I play now are pretty much online. I miss some of my old standards, like Joy Garden, Rocket Mania, and Cradle of Rome. But fear not, for I’ve found other fun ways to spend my time. I still like Tetris and Candy Crush, and I sometimes play a hidden objects game called Seekers Notes. I’m mad at the SN folks, though, because they double charged me on an in game purchase and have basically blown off my complaint. My current obsession is a parking lot game, where I happily move tiny electronic vehicles out of the way of walls, fire hydrants, mailboxes, and sneaky little old ladies who walk around the parking lot and turn abruptly in front of ongoing cars. If you hit a little old lady, you lose, but if you only hit her walker, you get extra points. That’s a bit perverse, but there you are.

Now, here’s the point that always kind of surprises me about playing online games. When you tell someone who also plays them, you generally have a pleasant conversation ahead. But when the other person doesn’t share your taste for such pursuits, you generally get a rather acidic response along the lines of, “Oh, I don’t do that. It’s such a huge waste of time.”

Why is having fun wasting your time?

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve worked hard in my life. I studied hard to get good grades as a kid and participated in lots of demanding extracurricular activities. I put myself through college and law school and did pretty well in both. Post school, I was a wife, a mom, a practicing lawyer, and a law professor and administrator. But I’ve always tried to make room for fun; it’s what feeds me, what makes it possible to get up and do it again the next morning. Whether it’s reading, or watching movies, or traveling, or hanging out with friends, fun is restorative and energizing and comforting. In fact, Mark and I still quote Dr. Seuss to each other, even after all these years: “Such things are fun, and fun is good.”

So here’s to fun – and games! And if you ever want to play a rousing game of Clue, just let me know. But be warned: if you want to play a rousing game of Monopoly, you’re out of luck with me. But I will give you my sister’s address.

2 thoughts on “Game on

  1. the socialist inventor of monopoly would have hated what parker bros did to it too.

    the doc was fascinating but you have to be a PBS member to see it. you can watch the excerpts at the bottom though. or knowing you, you’d probably rather read the book anyway!

    someone should make a game about the adventures of a socialist game inventor trying to avoid it being corrupted by capitalist game companies. even a game-avoider like me might play that one!




  2. Thanks for reading this and commenting on it! I knew about the origins of Monopoly but not about the documentary. We also are members of PBS, so we should be able to find it.

    Now here’s an idea for you. A liberal guy is with his conservative family for Thanksgiving. Conversation is, unsurprisingly, somewhat difficult, so they decide to play a board game to steer away from politics. Except they choose to play Monopoly. Hilarity ensues.

    Hope all is well with you and yours. ❤️


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