Whatever happened to …

… board games?

A shout out this week to Peter Cameron for the idea.  He didn’t put it on the Padlet so I can’t quote him directly – it came as a quickie direct message while he was playing “Ticket to Ride”.

Growing up, board games were a common event around the Peterson gaming table.  There was Mom, Dad and my younger brother.  Four appears to be the sweet spot for gaming.  Most games seem to be designed for two or four players and divisibility by two allows for even teaming.  It became apparent when we had three kids and someone often had to “sit out”!

I think we had copies of all of the classics.  They were stored in the hallway closet on the way downstairs.  We had the classics…

  • Monopoly (which apparently we always played wrong)
  • Scrabble (we had our own Scrabble dictionary to resolve disputes)
  • Mouse Trap (my earliest recollection of a board game and the trap always seemed to get stuck on the way down)
  • Clue (as in “get a “)
  • 212B Baker Street (who doesn’t like a good mystery)
  • Sorry! (or as my daughter calls is “Soorrr- EEEE”)
  • Chinese Checkers (never understood the name)
  • Checkers (we had real wooden pieces, none of this plastic stuff)
  • Chess (I still own a board with jade pieces)
  • Crokinole (a Perth County invention)
  • and, the one that always gave this snake hater nightmares – Snakes and Ladders – I still have this memory of the gigantic snake that went from near the top of the board all the way to the bottom.  Sure, the snake had a smile on its face but that was only there to lure you into a false sense of security.  We also played a variation when we slid up the snakes and down the ladders … but, I can totally understand the marketing correctness of changing the name of game to Chutes and Ladders.

When it was board game time, everything stopped and we crowded around whatever game was being played.  Mom would always have some sort of treat for us to enjoy while we played.

When it came time to have our own kids, we tried the board games but the classics didn’t have the same appeal.  Yet, we still enjoy getting around the table playing Taboo on family game night.  And, we maintain the tradition by providing treats.

It’s interesting to see how so many of what we would call classic board games have become electronic.  Certainly a favourite of mine is Words with Friends, a modern version of Scrabble.  It has the advantage of being able to play with friends world-wide – Marisa C. kills me all the time.  It also has the disadvantage of changing the rules – you can’t make up your own words and hope to get them past your brother by using them in a sentence like you’re some kind of expert on the topic.  A built in dictionary prevents this.  Hopefully, Scrabble will never make this list.

From my perspective though, the biggest and fondest memory that I do have is sitting around the kitchen table playing with family.  No amount of technology could ever replace that.

Screenshot 2017-12-30 at 16.05.36

Our current games cupboard. (Never mind the table cloths)

How about you?  What are your thoughts of board games?

  • Did you play board games as a child?
  • Do you still play them now?
  • Are there any classic board games that I failed to include?
  • Do modern games have the same appeal as the classics for you?
  • Did you hate the board on Snakes and Ladders as much as me?
  • Can you believe that you can play Snakes and Ladders online?
  • What other games do you see in the picture above?
  • Who wrote the book on the rules of the game?  What’s the name of the book?

Please share your thoughts via comments?  I’d be interested in reading them as I’m sure that others would as well.

All of the posts from the Whatever happened to … series are available here.  And, if you have an idea for a future post, shoot me a DM like Peter did or add it to this padlet.

14 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Crokinole was awesome! We used to play a lot of those same games as well as, backgammon, Trouble (bascically Sorry with a pop-o-matic bubble). Mille Bournes, cribbage ( it’s a board, right?), Rumole ( not sure I spelled that right) , Full House ( not the tv show, this one was about running a motel full of crazy guests), CandyLand and so many more. That game cupboard got lots of traffic, especially during the winter. TY for the memories!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like a lot of fun, Ramona. And, I think we played a number of those games too. They didn’t percolate to the front of my brain while I was writing the post!


  3. I love that you chose to blog about this topic today, as when I was growing up, we always played board games to ring in the new year. Monopoly was a family favourite, and it looks as though we played it wrong too. There were so many great opportunities in here for math and problem solving, and even social skills. Some of my favourite memories as a child involve a board game. A number of years ago, I invited kids to bring in board games for the last day of school. Boy have the games changed! So many of them seem to be about the entertainment value, the laughs, and the quick pace versus the thinking opportunities. Even making connections to math was much harder than before. Was this just because of the games students chose, or is this actually a commentary on the new board games out there? Recently I was at Indigo, and shelves in the children’s section were full of board games, but how have they changed? Are they still used for the Family Game Nights, as so many of them were in the past? I wonder … Thanks for another trip down memory lane!


    P.S. Snakes and Ladders is not my favourite board game because of that big, scary snake that I landed on way too much as a child. I do admit to using it in Grade 1 on a few different occasions to explore 1:1 correspondence, subitizing (with the dice), and counting up to 100. Those expectations drew me in, despite the scary snake. 🙂 And I even used an app version at one point because the dice made less noise. Not my finest teacher moment, but those noisy dice get to me every time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That big 🐍 makes you wonder just what the original developers were thinking! I like that you identified the mathematics in these games. The interesting thing is that a lot of it was mental mathematics too! And, so much probability although we certainly identify it as such at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I forgot about Trivial Pursuit. We still love this one and have played many of the various versions. Christmas Day we played the original and the Disney version with my nephews. Did well with the original, but got beat badly on the Disney one. I think there may be a Star Wars version out there too. Can’t imagine doing well at that one!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I absolutely love board games and when we were downsizing to move this summer I got a rid of a few of them and it was heartbreaking. When I was a kid we would play Monopoly on snow days if the power was out to help pass the time. We also loved crocinole, rummoli, and Clue. My grandmother used to have a board game that was made from an old piece of kitchen countertop. There were four players and each player had a different colour of marble and you had to move your marble around the board. Sort of like Sorry but I don’t remember all the rules.
    My kids and I love to play Scrabble, Upwords, and Scattegories. This year for Christmas my youngest got the eldest a Golden Girls version of Clue, and my eldest got me a chocolate version of Scrabble as well as a travel version of Jeopardy. On Christmas Day the whole extended family played a new board game, 5 Second Rule, which was hilarious. Perfect for a large group.
    Tonight for New Year’s Eve, John and I will likely play crockinole. We’ve had a hard time finding a board game that we like to play together. He’s terrible at trivia and word games like Scrabble. He’s so good at backgammon, blokus, and other spatial games that I don’t stand a chance!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a lovely extension to my post, Lisa. Thanks so much. I forgot about backgammon until I took the picture and saw my travel case in it. If there ever was a game with a connection to mathematics! I also recall an Asian friend at University introducing me to Mah Jongg.


  8. The other board game we like for a big group is Apples to Apples. We’ve played that for the past few years at Cranston Christmas. I don’t see that in your board game pile!


  9. My wife and I played Monopoly when we were dating. She almost always won. It got so bad I bought a book on how to win at Monopoly and read it cover to cover. She still won most of the time but I did better. We don’t play board games much these days though we do play some sometimes with our son and daughter in law. We tend to play a bit of poker as a family these days. Card games are like board games right?


  10. Just catching up on holiday reading/commenting, so I am a little late to this board game party 🙂 Thought I would answer (and likely go off on a tangent) to some of your questions.

    Monopoly ruled in my childhood home. I played so many games with my two older brothers and sometimes friends from the neighborhood (if they could put up with how serious we were.) I guess we didn’t follow all the rules, as we didn’t auction off properties that were passed up. Somehow we added a new twist to the game: Once all the properties were bought, we called, “Trading time”. This part of the game allowed for players to gain all the “addresses” of a colour group of properties. Of course, if someone wanted Park Place they might have to offer another player a couple of railroads or Baltic Place with some cash. We were pretty fair in our trade-offs. Trading often resulted in a player “owning” a whole street/side of the board, not to mention the increased collection of rent because they owned all the colours and could now buy houses. The game (bankruptcies) went much quicker after trading time…

    If our Grandma came to visit, monopoly went away and scrabble came out. It was tough to beat Grandma.

    I thought the snakes were quite cool on our board – they had cool coolers and maybe friendly faces though.

    I don’t play board games all that much now, but we did when our own kids were younger. Over the recent Christmas holiday, there were a few gatherings of twentysomethings in our basement. We have an old, round wood table down there with a crokinole board on it (homemade one by Grandpa), but it was moved off for other board games. This year, Balderdash was popular. Late on New Year’s Eve, I heard a Twister game going on as well (might have been Tipsy Twister…).

    I keep saying that I should play more board games again… I don’t play any online, so I should be able to find the time and a few friends! Grandma played Scrabble late into her 90s, so….

    Fun post and conversation!

    Liked by 1 person

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