Maybe it’s uniting over a common activity, or, more likely, the competitive streak that we all share, but games have always been important to my family. However, familial tensions inevitably rear their ugly heads during these petty competitions. I noticed that we seem to play games in order to quell the effects of certain disputes.
My brothers and I played Yahtzee before we knew how to write, evident by the several decade-old scorecards featuring my mother’s handwriting. This game is beloved because the player does not need any skill or to employ any strategy. My brother has refused to play for five years after a game when he scored a 712 (which he framed).
Suspicions, paranoia…Clue is not played nearly as often, nor is it taken so lightly. We seem to play it when we have particular, individual complaints with each other, enjoying the drama of accusing each other of murdering a man in the conservatory with the candlestick. How has nobody discussed the shame of death by candlestick?
Parcheesi is a heartbreaker, relatively new to the mix of standard games in my family and is occasionally referred to referred to as “Sorry on Steroids.” It can hurt more than it helps, what with family building petty blockades and landing on rival pawns with slightly too much gusto.
Familial Monopoly is a time-honored tradition, but one that none of us seem to enjoy very much. We all like the idea of Monopoly, but as the game wears on and on, both boredom and frustration rise, usually ending in some kind of emotional explosion. If we ever finish a game, it ends in a long and drawn out one-on-one, usually with both parties giving up and calling it a draw.
Monopoly was irretrievably ruined for me at the end of high school. My calculus teacher decided to give us a treat by having us analyze Monopoly using Calculus, requiring us to play the game every day for two weeks for extra credit. I’ve never seen friends turn on each other so quickly. But hey, at least I understand the math, and can also be sure that familial squabbles over Boardwalk will never eclipse that hormone-induced bloodbath.