Talking ’bout you and me and the games people play

I was thinking about games today. No, not mindgames, which is a whole other post for a WHOLE other day, and won’t that be fun? Yep yep yepperooni. No, board games. On boards. With pieces and such.

Now, listen, I love board games. To distraction. But I think I do them wrong. Because sure, I like to win, but I don’t like other people to lose, either. I don’t know. I think I lack the cutthroat gene needed to be good at board games. The only board games I am happy about kicking people’s asses in are Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble, and I get VERY COMPETITIVE with those type of games, because they are feats of intelligence and I like that. But other games? I’m very “hey look you missed this possible play you could have made” or “here, I have more Monopoly money than I could possibly use” or one time I was trying to get this guy to hook up with me and I’m pretty sure we’d been drinking, I mean, it was college, so I was giving him Monopoly houses under the table and the other players got VERY ANGRY when he totally became a slumlord using these nefarious means. (Bee tee dubs, it totally worked. So for future reference, you can get the cute, tall bearded guy to hook up with you if you give him Monopoly houses under the table. That’s not a euphemism.)

In college, I used to play games a lot. I mean, we were all totally broke, and what the hell else were we going to do, it’s not like we could afford to go out and do shit, we worked minimum-wage nightmares of jobs and attended classes and (in my, and most of my friends) cases, worked on like eight plays a semester, so in the small amount of free time we had, we watched basic cable and played board games, which we bought from the Salvation Army so they were often missing pieces, or, in some really stellar cases, the instruction booklets, so we kind of made up instructions as we went along. (“When you land on the red space, you…um…punch the guy next to you, twice, hard, on the arm, and steal one of his cards.”)

We also had a poker group. I think we met once a month? That doesn’t seem right. Maybe every other week? We’d all chip in five dollars, and get a bunch of pennies for it, and play poker and whoever won had to run across the street and use their winnings to buy donuts from the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street for everyone. I was never overly good at poker. Mostly because I have transparent face. If I have a good hand, it’s pretty damn obvious by the huge goony grin that crosses my face when it’s dealt. Or, of course, alternately, when I get a shitty hand, I bitchface it up. But I often broke even, and we had a hell of a time. I miss that.

It seems that the chances to play board games reduces exponentially as your age increases. That’s kind of upsetting. I’m pretty sure I would rock board games now as an adult. But then I was thinking, the point of the board games I played as a child and young adult and boozy twenty-something were kind of…strange, right? I mean, other than the vastly superior Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble, of course.


The supposed point of this game: to guess, for what seems like a month, where your opponent’s battleships are in a grid; once you guess, they put a red marker on their board, and once you’ve discovered all of their ships, you win.

The real point of this game: unspoken maritime murder

OK, so this seems like kind of a simple guessing game, right? I mean, sure, there’s some strategy involved; you can clump all of your ships together (which works for a little while, but once your opponent finds one, forget it, you’re sunk, pun most definitely intended) or you can spread them all out, but really, it’s just time and patience. You guess. Opponent guesses. You guess. Back and forth, for-EVER. Blah.

But really, are those ships just floating around out there unmanned? Who sends a ship out unmanned on the ocean? No one. No one does that. It’s not like you can put a ship on autopilot forever. There wouldn’t be a point of that. So really, what you’re doing is murdering a whole bunch of Navy Seals or something. Think of the casualties over your years of playing Battleship! OH THE HUMANITY!

Also, remember that commercial where the kid was all, “YOU SANK MY BATTLESHIP” as if the world had ended? I loved that. I repeated that ad nauseum. Even when it didn’t fit the situation. I sometimes still do. I like melodrama. I also like that commercial for Connect Four with the kid that’s all “PRETTY SNEAKY SIS.”


The supposed point of this game: to perform tasks based on what type of spaces you land on/cards you pull. Some of the tasks: spelling, acting, singing, molding things out of clay, charades.

The real point 0f this game: to make a complete asshat out of yourself.

Now listen. I’m totally into Cranium, because I am not in the least bit embarrassed about shit. I will get up and pretend to be a tiger; I will get up and off-key belt out some random song; I will mold weird nonsense shapes out of clay. I have a very high embarrassment threshold. I work around actors. I have done so my whole life. I also like people paying attention to me (WHAT NO NOT YOU AMY) so I’m down with this.

Have you ever played Cranium with someone who ISN’T into this? It’s a horrorshow. Seriously. It’s like they suddenly stepped into their worst nightmare AND THEY CAN’T WAKE UP.

For example: I once convinced a friend’s boyfriend to play this with the two of us. He isn’t into things like this. At all. But he’s totally a good sport. He had some clue like “roadhouse” and had to charades it to us. He could not figure out how to do this. So he got up and airguitared. For like the whole time. And we just HOWLED. And shouted out things like “GUITAR” and “AIR GUITAR” and “WHY ARE YOU JUST DOING AIR GUITAR IF THAT’S NOT THE ANSWER” and the poor guy was very embarrassed. On the bright side, I’m totally cracking up just remembering it, so that’s something.

This is the game you make someone play if you’re mad at them, but, like, passive-aggressive mad. Then you can watch them embarrass themselves and you’ve totally got your revenge. Don’t tell me I didn’t learn anything watching Revenge this season. Emily would be so proud of me.


The supposed point of this game: To remove teeny-tiny plastic body parts out of teeny-tiny holes in an electricized game board with metal tweezers without touching the sides. If you touch the sides of the holes, YOU MAKE A BUZZER GO OFF. Fun!

The real point of this game: To prepare you for when you get tortured by the feds someday.

Can anyone do this? Let’s just start with that. Does ANYONE have hands steady enough to remove those stupid body parts from that stupid body without setting off that buzzer? I mean, someone must be able to, otherwise, what’s the point, right? But I PERSONALLY don’t know anyone who was ever able to do this. This game was an exercise in futility.

OK, and second, it made you SO FRIGGING NERVOUS. Aren’t games supposed to be FUN? You’re all shaking because you KNOW you’re going to hit the side, you KNOW you’re going to mess it up, and then BUZZZZZZZZZZ! you DO mess it up, and you jump like ten feet in the air and it is SO NERVEWRACKING.

I’m pretty sure this game was created to prepare you for future torture at Guantanamo or something. Or, wait, did they shut down Guantanamo? Whatever the equivalent of that is, then, whatever. THIS GAME ISN’T ANYONE’S IDEA OF FUN. Actually, I think you could use this game to test who, amongst your children’s peer group, is a future psychopath. The kid that likes it will probably murder all the neighborhood pets in a few years. Forewarned is forearmed.

Hungry Hungry Hippos

The supposed point of this game: Whoever gets their plastic hippo to “eat” the most marbles wins.

The real point of this game: To make as much noise as possible. Also, KILL THE PIG CUT HER THROAT SPILL HER BLOOD.

This is the game you buy for your family member with young children when you hate that family member and want them to have the worst time ever. Oh, not the kids. The kids’ll have the time of their LIVES. But the family member won’t. Because this game is a., LOUD, and b., causes children to go all Lord of the Flies.

When I was a kid, we’d go to my great-uncle’s cabin. It was on an island in the middle of a lake and remains one of the best memories of my childhood. It had a full attic and the attic was full of games. One of the games: Hungry Hungry Hippos. So we’d get that out and set it up and hunch over it and we’d start HAMMERING at those hippos and SCREAMING at each other and SCREAMING at the hippos and the marbles and everything else that was around us and sometimes the hippos heads would pop off, we were doing it so hard, and the kid whose hippo-head had popped off would be all, “Time out, hey guys, time out, my hippo head!” and we’d be all “NO YOU KNEW THE RULES WHEN YOU ENTERED THE STADIUM” and go back to smashing the levers. Marbles flew like glass rain. It was chaos. Utter chaos. Adults would yell up the stairwell, “Hey, keep it down up there, you kids!” We’d grunt a reply. No time. No time for adults. Only the hippos. And the marbles. And the levers. And the WINNING.

So pretty much, I’m convinced every single game I’ve ever played had some sort of ulterior motive. Which is AWESOME. It’s like one big conspiracy theory! I think someone should totally look into this. I would, but now I’m jonesing bad for Hungry Hungry Hippos so probably need to run out to Target after work and get one of those. Everyone needs a little more complete and total anarchy in their lives, and also flying marbles of doom, I’m pretty sure.

(SIDE NOTE. Shit, research tells me that nowadays, there’s a PLASTIC EFFING BUBBLE on top of the hippos, so the marbles can’t GO anywhere. That is INSANE. There can be no anarchy if the marbles are contained. The same person did this that turned Cookie Monster into Veggie Monster, I bet. WHY ARE YOU PEOPLE SHITTING ON MY CHILDHOOD DAMMIT.)

About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

19 responses to “Talking ’bout you and me and the games people play

  • CMTomaso

    Cranium is known, among some of my college friends, as the game that ends friendships. We decided as a group to stop playing forever. Playing this game, I’ve seen a formerly quiet, mousy girl scream and flip the board in frustration (she might have been very drunk); one guy almost punched me in the face (I might have accidentally inferred that his wife was fat during a charade); and one couple actually broke up during a “modelling clay” portion.

    Actually, in hindsight, we might have just been assholes. Either way, no more Cranium.


    • lucysfootball

      It’s very stressful. There’s a lot going on, you have to get up in front of people, there’s acting, there’s modeling clay – I can see how that could happen! :)


      • elaine4queen

        i had smashing fun in LA about a decade ago at @turnerguinevere ‘s house. we were all lashed, and there was a lot of drunken craziness, but i don’t remember any bad vibes. this may have been because the most mind bendingly competitive gamers were me and guin and we were on the same side.
        on the other hand, we played a game where you had to name a bunch of things beginning with whatever letter came up on the magic whoosit. this started off pretty civilized, but there was a decision made that people from the uk could get a free pass if the other uk person agreed that whatever it was was valid. this led to me and my fellow traveler, @lottiepoulton, having at least one stand up screaming match. to the mixed horror and delight of our audience, no doubt.


  • Omnibus

    Who-oh-ah! Ladenda-dadenda-denda Ladenda-dadenda-dendee, talkin’ bout you an’ me, an’ the games people play who-oh-ah!


  • Omnibus

    When my brother and I would play Battleship as kids, we had the manual one, where you could pick up the ships after someone guessed the spot they were in, and move them to a different spot, so it wouldn’t be a “hit”. We’d put the pegs in the empty “miss” spaces to keep track of where we could move the ships! Then we’d sing: Sailing, sailing over the ocean blue! :)


    • lucysfootball

      You and Rich were super-tricky about Battleship! Why was I the only person who was so scrupulously anal about being honest during games as a kid? I was one weird kid. I never cheated. And if I found out anyone cheated, I got SO UPSET. Why was I all Molly Morals when I was little? This is an interesting conundrum!


  • Omnibus

    Oh, and you can totally break that plastic bubble off the Hungry Hippo game. I did that for my nephew, when he was 6. I am the cool aunt! :)


  • thepunchdrunkplaywright

    …Gonna teach you how to meditate. Read your horoscope and cheat your fate. And further more to hell with hate. Everybody get on…what? what?

    Do you like drinking games? I hate drinking games. You have to drink beer. You have to not drink most of the time. And the rules are dumb and random. How is the person who ends up the drunkest the looser?


    • lucysfootball

      I think my problem with drinking games is – why? Why are you playing a game to drink? Why not just…drink? Why make a game out of it where the point is to get SO SO SO drunk? Also, I was always so spectacularly bad at those. Because they’re almost always coordination-based. And I know that most people get less coordinated as they drink – well, my handicap is, I’m NEVER coordinated, drunk OR sober. So I might as well just keg-stand at the beginning, because that’s invariably how the damn thing’s going to end.


  • blogginglily

    My oldest got Yahtzee for Christmas. The point of Yahtzee is to say “YAHTZEE” as loud as you can when you get Yahtzee. Everyone else loses even if they win based on points, but don’t get a Yahtzee.

    We also got her a board with backgammon, checkers and chess. It was the cheapest one i could find, because I wasn’t sure she’d take to chess. We sat down last night and played it, and it went well. This morning she asked me a question out of the clear blue sky about what “check-mate” was (we only played a little to get her the hang of it until bed time). She called the Pawns “Ponds” and the Rooks “Rookies”. Good times.


    • lucysfootball

      Wait, I knew about the yelling of Yahtzee (which I refuse to do, only because it seems braggy) but is that in the rules, that if someone gets a Yahtzee, they automatically win? No. You’re being sarcastic, right? Because if it is, we’ve been playing that SO WRONG at my house. For YEARS.

      Aw! I love that you’re teaching her chess! My dad taught me both checkers and chess as a kid – neither really stuck (I don’t have the right brain for them – I can’t strategize in that way, for some reason) but I had the best time learning with him. The game he taught me I really loved was cribbage. I LOVE CRIBBAGE. We have the best time with that!


  • Rich Crete

    I used to leave that little 2-hole ship in “dry dock” i.e. in my pocket and I never lost. Good battle strategy: always have something in reserve. Not only sound strategy but a really fun way to piss off your sister.

    Along those lines, another sound strategy would simply be to not deploy at all. Let them fire all the torpedo salvos they want at the empty ocean. Missed again there Skippy. The lesson would be very Indiana Jones: never bring torpedos to an intergalactic missile fight.


    • lucysfootball

      That is VERY sneaky! Nice idea! My brother’s oh-so-tricky plan was to play the game (which? any), then when we were done, to throw the game, pieces, etc. everywhere and leave me to clean it all up. Ha! GOOD ONE BRO. Grumble.


  • greengeekgirl

    Plastic bubble on the hippos? no problem. I bet that sucker can be popped off, sawn off, or if all else fails, melted with a blowtorch.


  • lynnettedobberpuhl

    Slapjack: The fun card game that is a metaphor for being the quickest to punch your opponent in the face and steal all their money. Mwa-ha-ha-ha!


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