Saturday 2 December 2023

Bored Games? By Steve Way


The pagan festival that was commandeered by the Christians and then M & S is nearly upon us again! Often the time of year when board games are retrieved from the back of dark cupboards, dusted off and played. Usually with enjoyment but sometimes the catalyst for a rollicking good quarrel.

As a stimulus for creative writing with children (and sometimes adults) I wrote the following ideas for some unusual board games. I hope you enjoy them and ideally are inspired to create, encourage your kith and kin to create some original games of your own.

The experience of writing the pieces helped me appreciate the genius of the creators of the games that have become so popular we’re all familiar with them and will likely play some of them over the coming weeks. I once had the idea of making a board game involving British and Spanish navy ships chasing and battling pirates and each other across the Atlantic and around the Caribbean. I soon realised how difficult it would be to make the whole concept fit onto a table-sized playing board plus I would have to learn a lot more about naval history. Appropriately the few designs I made went back to the drawing board – and stayed there!


I must get to school!

This board games simulates your biggest NIGHTMARE  - not being able to get to school!

Simple dangers can be your alarm clock not going off or the door of the bathroom being glued shut while you’re in it by your darling brother or sister.

More complex dangers could be that your cereal bowl and spoon become possessed by a poltergeist and chase you around the kitchen until you hide in the cupboard under the sink.

Even if you manage to get out of your house, your problems don’t end there. Now you have to make the tricky choice about transport. Should you walk, go by car, bike or catch the bus?

If you walk you could suddenly get swooped on by a winged shark or jumped on by an enormous man-eating yogurt.

If you go by road, it may suddenly become molten and you, your car (oh and your parent) could drive directly through the front gates of HELL!

If your choice is the bus, what are you going to do if you find it’s being driven by Mr Horrible Joke Bus Driver? You have to do your best to laugh instead of throwing up as he tells you his latest jokes from his Olde Booke of Jokees 1142 and then carry on laughing when he tells you the bus is full and you’ve got to get off?

Going to choose the bike then? But remember you could be followed around by The Huge Puddle of Nimm. No matter if the sun’s shining brightly, The Huge Puddle of Nimm will glide invisibly beside you until a huge lorry approaches. The puddle will then take on physical form and you’ll get covered in it as the lorry zooms by.

Once you get to the school building your troubles may be far from over. You may get blocked from crossing the road by The Alien Lollipop Lady, who just has to tell you all the interesting gossip, where she’s going on holiday next year, how sick her cats have been and the best place to buy a plastic box at the moment.

Even if you get past her there’s the Send You the Other Way Caretaker to get past. Whichever door you try and go in, he’ll be walking out of it shouting, “I’ve just cleaned the floor in here, I don’t want you coming this way! Use the other door!” Then when you get to the “other” door he’ll be coming out of that one again and so the whole cycle will go on and on and on until you climb in one of the toilet windows – which means you’ll really be for it if he finds you!

Just as you finally get into the school, ready to race to your classroom before registration, you’re bound to be collared by “I’ve Got a Little Job for you” Secretary Person. He or she will give you a “Little Job” which may entail tiling the gym roof, replanting the school trees, polishing all the bricks or catching aardvarks for the science teacher.

However, if you get past all these dangers, well done! You’ll be able to slide gracefully onto your chair, slip smoothly up to your desk and enjoy another MIND-BOGGLINGLY EXCITING day at school!

What a wonderful thing to win!

National Lottery board game.

There are two parts to this game. In the first part of the game you have to actually buy a ticket. In the second part you have to see if you can win something with your selected numbers.

It isn’t as easy to get your ticket as you might think. For the players in this game, many potential problems or dangers face them on their way to the local post office.

Some of the problems can be as simple as the car suddenly breaking down, or the dog chewing all the shoes, so you’d have to walk to the post office in bare feet. However, some of the other dangers can be more extreme. You might get attacked by a dragon on holiday at his gran’s house or you might get abducted by aliens which look like washing machines, as they randomly pass by and select a human for their zoo or their pet carrot’s dinner.

Then when you finally get your ticket, you have to select seven numbers – or if you’re so hopeless you can’t even chose seven numbers for yourself get the trained hamster that comes with the game to chose them for you. Then see if the numbers come up on your very own home-sized lottery machine.

Of course, as with the usual lottery… you’ll lose. So what was the point in the first place. Still better luck next time… or the time after that… or the time after that… or the…

Break Down the Monopolies.

This game is the opposite of that famous board game Monopoly. In this game, instead of aiming to build up a huge all-powerful monopoly of property ownership that bleeds your opponents dry of money, you aim to break down your huge cumbersome and uninspiring monopolies. You must do this before they collapse of their own accord and sink into oblivion, like the last of the dinosaurs sinking into a swamp as they disappear from the Earth. Sounds difficult? It is.

You all begin with a randomly selected huge wealth of ‘inherited’ property. One player owns Mayfair and Pall Mall, covered in hotels, for example. Another player owns all the stations and power companies. Then as you begin playing one of you discovers that you are in fact Miss Universe and so you win huge amounts of money in beauty contests every time anyone has a go, whilst one of you has a birthday every five seconds and a special machine (batteries supplied!!!) spits out money at you every time it’s your “birthday”.  

But despite this, things could still go right for you by going wrong. If you own property, you could get a “No one pays their rent” card. To help add to the problem you want you still have to pay the bank half the value of your property every time a player lands on it.

If you’re lucky you could still go bankrupt in other ways! If you own the power companies, you could get a “Work Force go on Strike” card and have to buy power from abroad every time someone lands on you. Maybe you could ‘team up’ with another player to buy up the businesses owned by another and then see if you can double-cross them by dumping as many of the assets of your new acquisitions on your ‘partner’.

As an alternative tactic, you could give as much of what you own away to Charity, the government or your dog but if you do you’ll inherit an unexpected fortune every time you pass “Go” from then on.

The last player still owning a fortune beyond the dreams of avarice is the looser, the player with the least money or assets left is the winner. Don’t despair, as is normal in this country if you cause the total collapse of solid reliable businesses, you receive a HUGE directors pay off. You can then go off into happy pretend retirement and play happy pretend golf all day long (which is a FAR FAR better game than real golf.)

 Scrabble SCRABBLE!

This is a game played by those who hate spelling words, particularly in English as the spellings are often so unpredictable. The game is unconsciously initiated by someone in your family who likes Scrabble saying, ‘Hey, why don’t we have a game of Scrabble?’ The Scrabble SCRABBLE! players then have to scrabble to find a way to avoid being dragged into playing. Suddenly remembering that you have to run to the end of the street to look at a particular lamppost, deciding to groom the giraffe you don’t have or offering to peel sprouts for the whole neighbourhood count as acceptable Scrabble SCRABBLE moves. Hopefully if players stay out of the way long enough only the family members who actually like Scrabble (and those who daren’t admit that they don’t) will end up playing Scrabble. Meanwhile the Scrabble SCRABBLE! players can hopefully spend the afternoon doing what they want. The sprout move may backfire as you may be taken up on your offer.

Charade Charades.

This is related to the game Charades where someone acts out the name of a well-known book, play or film. Charade Charades is actually the game which usually is really played instead due to absolutely none remembering or agreeing on what hand signals are used to indicate, for example, the number of syllables in a particular word, or whether a book, play of film is being represented by each player’s pitiful performance. Also the film ‘The good, the bad and the ugly’ has to be performed at least five times and at least three people have to argue about who guessed the answer first.

Great fun!

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