Back when I was a wee little lad the traditional thing to do after the giant Christmas feast was to roll into the lounge and get out a board game. Usually this would be one you’ve just got as a gift, or the various staple games like Monopoly. You’d learn the rules, and the whole family would join in, teaming up if the game only had so many pieces. Siblings, parents, grans, aunts and uncles all cooped round a fold out table.
However over the past few years this has all changed. With the introduction of ‘Buzz’ and ‘Singstar’ into our Christmas line-up. My folks are even getting a Wii this year. And this has changed the post-feast activities. Games tend to have a maximum or 2-4 players, which means most folks are left on the sidelines. Not that the grandparents mind too much, mine detest games. Singstar ends all male participation, with the females harpy noises forcing the blokes off upstairs.
Now as a gamer I should be loving the fact that my parents and family members are participating in my hobby. But I’m just not liking it. I love having us all sit around a board, everyone participating and video games just stop that dead in its tracks. It locks out some family members, though hard board games can do that too, and reduces those of us that can play at once. With folks concentrating on the game it reduces the between-turn natter too, no catching up or general jokes.
On the other hand games, especially simple games like Singstar or WiiPlay etc, require very little learning and once you learn how to use a controller you don’t really forget. There’s no arguing over ambiguous rules either. So overall it makes for a rather smooth experience. We also get in new games, just like we used to get a new board game, so each year we still have that variety, with old classics to fall back on.
With my parents getting a Wii this year it looks like it’ll take over even more. And I will be looking closer how it changes the family interactions. I hope that the marketing of the Wii might convince my grandparents to get up and join in they seem to have fallen for the DS marketing. I think I’ll set up a game of Monopoly in the dinning room, see if anyone wants to join in. See if the old ways still appeal. And if not I can fall back on my PS3. :D
Any video game related Christmas tales, jump into the comments.