Wednesday, 18 June 2014

bored games

We have a game inventor in the family. My son Ezra has always been fascinated by board games: his first ones created at the age of seven or so.
He would appear clutching a box full of small assorted shapes of cardboard and proceed to tell me the rules at length. A minute into the monologue I would have switched off; nothing much has changed . . . But this applies to 'proper' board games too. He loves them; Mark also, to a certain extent — to him Chess is really the only game worth playing. I think he's probably right, but what would I know? I can only think of one move ahead before my thoughts start to wander — did I remember to: check the oil in the car/feed so and so's cat/ring the dentist/I wonder what Peter thing from I'st year at secondary school is doing now/ should we make more cherry jam?/what is that chewing noise coming from the wall?/how are clouds actually formed . . . what, "Oh, sorry . . . my go."

Mark: "Checkmate."


Ezra, as a board game geek claims that Monopoly is rubbish. It's true that it does go on, and on, and on, but it's probably the only game that I feel affection for: all those Christmas days or dark winter evenings when the red box came out and I would swipe the metal dog. It's just nostalgia, I know that; and it has to be the London version — The Old Kent road, Vine Street, Park Lane etc.
Oddly I always went for the Vine street set; I don't know if it was an early fascination with all things mediterranean, or just the friendly 70s orange colour . . .
He dosen't like it because it's a game mainly based on chance: you roll the dice, you move and you take the cards etc. It's good for me because I don't have to think to much ahead; I can consider clouds and jam preparation, move my piece and still be part of the game. Ezra likes games that involve strategy and planning like 'Small World' and a new one that appeared from uncle Amazon the other day: Alien Frontiers.
Panic filled my person as he set up the (very beautifully designed, it must be said) board, cards, 'ships' counters, Alien cards etc etc. No off-stage musing with this one, it needs full on concentration and lots of forward planning. We played and I dutifully tried with Ezra helping me; I suppose I could learn to block out the other stuff roaming about, but I think my brain is just like that.
We share many similarities, but his brain is wired differently to mine when it comes to gaming: Pictionary - yes, love it! Charades, wonderful; anything that's inventive, spontaneous and requires no forward thought. Suppose I'd rather just sit about and chat really . . .
A few days ago, he appeared with a Ezra-made game. This hasn't happened for a couple of years and I was slightly dreading the rule list, his probable frustration as something in the game didn't work out as he had imagined, the huff, and eventual sound of clay pieces hitting the floor.
It was a revelation.
He had worked out a highly sophisticated game about mining, complete with strategies involving market forces, different metals, monetary systems. I enjoyed playing it! possibly as he had made it, but I think more because it was well thought out.
He's going to send it out into that huge world of rejections, but I think he may just have a chance, and if not with this one, certainly another in the future . . .  

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