Board games are always fun when drinking is involved. I was recently part of a particularly rousing game of drinking Jenga that had me crying with laughter as well as hammered off my ass. But the other night, when pondering how best to “spice up” a pregame, I realized that just because I add the adjective “drinking” before a game does not mean that was its intended use. Most of these games were intended for children, not for grown ups (I use that term lightly) on their third vodka soda. Most of us grew up with many games yet never thought about their real meanings or effects. I examine some of the more popular games below.
Operation – this game is straight up scary. I remember that when I first opened the box, I cried because of the hideous patient staring out at me with a look of fear and extreme pain. The guy on the game has a big red nose, is buck nekkid, and full of holes from head to toe. The only time that should occur is if Homey the Clown were caught in gang war crossfire. And what lesson is Operation supposed to be teaching? I'm thinking maybe an overly zealous Asian parent, in an attempt to coerce his or her child into going to med school, came up with this game as an ingenious plot. However, Operation doesn’t teach anyone shit about the body – it’s insanely confusing for an 8 year old. For years after receiving the game, I thought a funny bone was real and was convinced that we all had an elusive “pencil” floating around in our bodies. So way to go, Milton Bradley – you have helped raise generations of children who are confused by the anatomy and think the worst thing that happens if you mess up surgery is a buzzer going off. I'm alerting the HMOs to your wrongdoing.
· Hungry Hungry Hippos – This game involves no strategy, cooperation, or thinking ability. It preys purely on children’s desire to smack something while exerting all of their ADD-fueled rage. You can just imagine the scenario of how this game was born… picture it. John, the game developer, had a tough day at the office back in 1985: he spilled coffee on his piano key necktie, locked his keys inside his Pinto, and realized his Def Leppard concert tickets were for LAST night instead of tonight. To make matters worse, know-it-all Jameson just pitched an idea for something called “Battleship” that the bosses are going crazy over. He goes home, throws on some Floyd, and lights one up, hating his life and The Hogan Family re-run that’s on TV. “Think John!! What’s a good game idea? Oh I’m hungry...you know who else gets hungry? Kids! So kids are hungry and they like beating the shit out of their toys… kids like colors too… I like colors! Colors are radical. No, focus! Colorful toy, with hunger, and beating up something. You know what’s totally boss, a pink hippopotam….I GOT IT!” Then he goes to make himself a Fluffernutter. And that, my friends, was my re-imagining of the birth of the dumbest game in history.
Guess Who - I loved this game as a child. But upon reflection as an adult (kinda), it is easy to realize the ridiculousness of the game’s premise. Firstly, they put only 3 women in a game with like 30 characters (and only one of them was a minority so you knew if you drew “Maria” it was over for you). Secondly, the game totally promotes racism. You knew if you got a black dude, someone was gonna ask the race question right away, so you just wanted to throw him back in the pile. Do we think this might have
ve caused some kids to grow up wanting to throw black men back into the pile of life? I'm just saying… and Thirdly, Guess Who makes kids lie to their friends. If you lied, you could always, after you won of course, be like “ohhh I didn’t realize you meant ALL hats” or “that nose looks big to you? Really??” and so on, in order to beat your friend. Oh, Guess Who creators, you bunch of racist, beret wearing, big nosed, A-holes. I’ll see you in hell.
· Monopoly – I know it’s kinda weird to include Monopoly on the list of ridiculous games. But Monopoly truly holds a special place in the board game hall of fame, particularly for the sheer competitiveness it elicits from deep in the bowels of our souls. The game is the penultimate expression of man’s desire to conquer, develop, and generally hold dominion over others. Aside from the greed and control issues that Monopoly brings out in kids, I don’t know how I feel about this being marketed to children at all considering the latent hostility that surfaces during heated Monopoly matches. Somehow things always go from “Who owns Reading Railroad?”, slowly progressing to, “Atlantic Avenue with 2 hotels, that’s 2Gs loser!” to “Bitch, you stole my snack pack!” and then “Guess what Curtis, no one likes you and you smell like feet!” finally ending wih the board being hurled or the pieces being shoved into each other’s orifices.
· Perfection – Do you remember this box/puzzle/timed game with the theme song “Pop GoesPerfection!”? Well congratulations if you don’t, because Perfection is literally an anxiety attack in a box that probably contributed to among the most stressful times in a child’s elementary school years. I still can’t look at that yellow piece board without getting the shivers and the feeling that in life, there’s somehow NEVER GOING TO BE ENOUGH TIME. Even the name is stress invoking. What a messed up gift to give a child. It’s like, “Hey Julia, Happy Birthday! Have fun with this game but make sure you know that everyone always expects PERFECTION from you, and anything less will result in pieces things flying towards your face as a buzzer sounds the alarm of your failure!” I blame Perfection for both my latent anxiety and my fear of egg timers.
· Sorry! – Sorry! was responsible for making popular one of the most annoying ways of saying the word “sorry” possible. It taught kids how to “apologize” in a way that was totally sarcastic, taunting, and insincere purely to piss off the other players. The worst part for kids was that when you got a Sorry! card, it entitled you target the people you hate the most, sending them back to start with total disregard. Sorry!, in this way, taught children the joys of gang mentality, winning at others’ expense, and taunting losers with a clever catchphrase. Oh you didn’t think this entry was funny? Soooorrrrryyyyy (sticks out tongue).
Twister – Ahhh, the budding date-rapists favorite party game. Twister made millions of dollars taking advantage of creepy little boys’ desire to have an excuse to “fall” on the cute girl in class. The game wasn’t even fun – it was kinda painful and one person had to sit on the side in order to be the spinner. Who the hell wants to be the spinner besides a little future voyeur? I see what you’re up to, Twister – creating a fan base for future porn markets. I’m on to your pervy-ness, and I don’t like it.