When’s the last time your family really sat in close proximity with all screens (TV, computer, cell phone, etc.) off, and had a really good time together? Are you looking at your watch… or are you looking at a calendar? Or can you not remember it at all?
Every summer we go on a trip to a huge beach house with several families and though I love the sea and the sand, one of the things I most look forward to is playing games together in the evenings. It’s actually the adults who play, after the children are asleep, but it won’t be long until the kids will be old enough to join in. These evenings remind me of countless rounds of Parcheesi, Monopoly, Yahtzee and card games my family played while growing up. I can’t remember a Thanksgiving that didn’t end with a rousing game of some sort.
It’s these simple pleasures, these unplugged moments that are the inspiration for National Family Game Night on September 23, sponsored by Hasbro Games. Of course they have a reason to encourage game play, but in an age when the economy is tight and technology sometimes makes us forget to look at each other, isn’t the idea of spending a night of old-fashioned fun a bit appealing?
Whether you just dust off some games you already own, or decide to go out and purchase some new ones — consider indulging in National Family Game Night this Wednesday and then turning it into a regular habit. If you want to go all out, Hasbro even has some tips for planning game night on their web site.
We actually held ours a little early — we tried two new games, Bop It! and Connect 4X4. Bop It! is this crazy little device that issues commands to press a button (bop it!), twist a knob, pull a knob, or yell into a microphone, in a rapidfire succession in a random pattern. We are clearly a very uncoordinated family and this generated tons of laughter! Connect 4×4 is an updated version of Connect 4 where there are two grids side by side and you can get your 4-in-a-row in all the traditional ways but also by weaving between the two grids. This was a HUGE hit with the kids. They are already clamoring for another game night and I’m happy to indulge them!
In every situation where I have played games with people — whether my own family, as part of a team-building exercise at a business retreat, with a group of grown-up friends — I have found that the after-effects last far longer than the game itself. People always seem to feel more closely bonded, more patient about listening to each other, more interested in working through things. Which makes me wonder, during these times, what would happen in this nation if we dumped a truckful of Bop Its outside the US Capitol building? (Oh no, I fear this post could take a dreadful turn for the worse… perhaps I should’ve suggested Cranium?)
I was at a retreat of local business leaders and when asked to “dream blue skies” about things to change in the county, one thing each round table came back with was that we don’t have enough fun as a society. How sad is that? We all agreed our county had terrific parks and recreation centers, and yet people were feeling like there was never any time for fun. The barrier wasn’t access to fun, it was prioritizing fun. CHOOSING to have fun.
Will you choose to have fun? Whether this Wednesday or another night, will you participate in some form of a game night in the near future?
Bop It! photo is from the Hasbro Games web site.