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May 31, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Bored games

“I’m only playing if I can be the banker…” “But you cheat!

Wandering aimlessly around Courtenay Central is a dangerous pastime. Last Thursday, as Reading Cinemas staff finished scuffing the renegade popcorn kernels under the seats, I found myself engaged in conversation with a valiant fanboy, my companion, about the ins and outs of hand-painted, ever-popular, never-beaten Lord of the Rings board games.

And I spent 20 minutes desperately wanting to ask if he was good at snakes and ladders.

Because when it comes down to it, that’s as far as my knowledge of board games goes. A child’s sport, kept aside for a rainy day, I can assure you Hasbro and Milton Bradley only ever graced my lounge floor if I became frustrated with children’s programming and was unable to sneak outside to frolic in the rain. Align this fact with the honest truth I am terrible at board games and you have a child who saw rainy days here, there, and everywhere as the bane of her existence.

Skill, they say, leads to becoming the master of draughts. Patience if one wants to succeed in the lost art of Jenga, or perhaps sheer dumb luck in the mystery of winning snakes and ladders. Actually, I always liked Jenga, but snakes and ladders only served one purpose in childhood; the valuable lesson, ‘life isn’t fair’. I think we’ve all been smacked on the arse by that arrogant snake on square 99.

Jenga aside, my dwindling talent for board games puts me to shame. One birthday, and I really would love to know who did this to me, I became the proud owner of ‘KerPlunk’. Similar to Jenga, but with marbles and sticks (hence the louder cacophony of fail when you eventually lost), KerPlunk quickly joined the growing pile of games titled ‘Do Not Want’.

Over the years, the collection grew: Connect Four, Mouse Trap, Ludo, Guess Who, Monopoly, Candy Land, and of course, Hungry Hungry Hippos, which was all fun and games until it got violent. The hippo food doubles as BB gun pellets, did you know? I tried the games of skill: Go, Backgammon… and Battleship. I’m not entirely sure whether Battleship is a game of skill but I never quite understood its purpose. It was in the school ‘rainy day’ cupboard I only wanted to play so I could exclaim, “You sunk my battleship!” To this date, I am yet to utter this line in its correct context.

There may be hope just yet. After diligently abandoning his friends to talk with two none-the-wiser women about the art of Lord of the Rings and intergalactic models for board games, the fanboy explained there are workshops…Workshops!? So, fervent Wellingtonians pay to learn how to hand-paint models and assemble Helms Deep for a board game about the one ring to rule them all, and in the darkness, bind them?

God. You can understand now why we must suffer so many Middle Earth jokes.


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