My Gaming Heritage

No one would call my parents gamers. 

My dad was a mechanic for most of his life and enjoyed auto racing. The only games I ever remember my dad talking about was Uno and dominoes. Beyond this, I don't recall my dad ever playing anything. 

My mom, on the other hand, is a crafter. She enjoys searching for project ideas and coloring and attempting to make cute objects. Recently, my mom has enjoyed app games on her phone and tablet such as Candy Crush, but before that, the only time I remember my mom playing any games at all was when my sister and I got a Gameboy for Christmas. 

It was a common to see my mom sitting on the couch trying to harness enough light from the low-wattage bulb of a table lamp to guide Mario through Sarasaland. Her tongue would always hang out slightly breaking the barrier of her lips like a Michael Jordan of handheld gaming. Each time Mario required a jump to cross any type of expanse, my mom would leap to her right in an attempt to help the mustachioed mascot get to the other side. We all laughed at that. I still look back and smile at that memory. 

Notice that I didn't really mention much: Uno, dominoes, and Super Mario Land. Not exactly fertile soil to plant a love of gaming. Still, there were seeds sown, but from another in-house source- my Aunt Susie.

My Aunt Susie moved in with my family when I was about four years old (this could be a complete untruth, but it was definitely early in my lifetime). She helped out with certain bills and also bought clothes for me and my siblings (eventually there would be four of us). If you asked her today if she enjoyed board games, she'd probably tell you no, but that is a definite untruth. However, her gaming wheelhouse leans, collapses, really, on the side of mass-market gaming. 

Through my aunt, I played and fell in love with two games in particular: Clue and Trivial Pursuit. I have fond memories, fuzzy and unspecific, but memories still of playing these games with her. Did I have any idea what 99.7% of the answers were to the questions written on the Trivial Pursuit cards as a seven, eight year old? Absolutely not! But still I would play. It was enjoyable rolling a die, moving my circular and incomplete pawn in an attempt to collect my slices of pie. Aunt Susie would sometimes give me hints. They didn't usually work out, but it was enough to scatter and water seed. If you looked closely enough, in fact, little green tokens could be seen peeking through the ground like infantile buds that had the potential to spring into a beautiful cardboard and plastic display.

My younger self was ecstatic to receive a Jr. edition of Clue (even if that was a bit unnecessary) and Trivial Pursuit. No one would play it with me after the first few plays. While I didn't know 99.7% of the answers of the original Trivial Pursuit, I KNEW 99.7% of the answers written on the cards of Trivial Pursuit Jr. My third grade teacher allowed students to bring toys and games on Fridays that could be played with during the last thirty minutes of class if we had earned that privilege. Apparently no one really wants to play a board game that asks you questions. Week after week I brought that game. Week after week it went back home in my backpack unplayed.

Other games I remember getting distinctly are Dizzy, Dizzy Dinosaur where a wind-up brontosaurus (brachiosaurus) would wreak havoc on your pawns and 1313 Dead End Drive where players would try to gain a fortune by eliminating other characters. Soon, however, my attention would turn much more in the direction of video games and would reign over my gaming-desires for years, only offering slight reprieves on board game nights with my family or friends a few times a year.

This would continue for over twenty years until a birthday party at my friend's house where a little game started turning my focus back on board games...


  1. I love reading your accounts of playing games. Wonder why as grown-ups we are so hesitant to play games as out kids ask. Seems to me, I have said no or maybe later, more times than sure. Never to late for me to try and bring them into playing now!

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