Many’s the evening in a suburban Australian home when Mum is watching Masterchef in the living room, Dad is whooping it up in front of the soccer in the family room, and the kids are variously installed in front of a computer, x-box, wii, playstation, DS or other electronic device.
Electronic saturation. Social isolation. Physical deprivation. Hmm. A little soul-destroying, isn’t it?
I’ll admit it. This kind of hi-tech worship happens in our house, despite our family’s penchant and great love of old fashioned games, card games and board games. We love them so much, it still surprises me how little we manage to come together at a time that suits everyone, to enjoy a game of charades, a quick snip of Snap or a limb-coiling game of Twister (for those readers under 15, Twister is a game that actually takes you off your backside).
Of course, we all know that game-playing (non-electronic, people!) not only provides invaluable and quality time between family members, it provides social interaction, mental stimulation and physical exercise. It challenges our logic, our creativity, our sense of humour and golly gosh – games may even bring us a spot of education – or dare we say it? Fun!
I was thrilled, then, to open, taste and subsequently devour Parlour Games for Modern Families – a paperback stacked with a paper carnival of fun.
Authors Myfanwy Jones and Spiri Tsintziras preface Parlour Games with a strong case for hauling game playing out of the retro closet. Playing these games is not only ecologically sustainable, they engage both body and mind. They teach life skills, nurture creativity and bring us together – and another major drawcard? Playing them is free! Take that credit card-crunching electronic gizmo companies!
Parlour Games for Modern Families also features a clever section on prepping your game-playing parlour, constructing games spaces, readying tools and even creating opportunities to encourage play (no more excuses!).
The book is divided into easy-to-use sections including Games of Writing and Drawing, Motion Mystery and Make Believe, Games Spoken Aloud, and Games of Cards Dice Marble and Knucklebones. Within these chapters, games are further divided into like-minded options. For example, Hide and Seek games include Hot Buttered Beans, Hunt the Thimble, Sardines and classic Hide and Seek. Such variety makes for an impressive array of alternatives.
For each listed game, Parlour Games includes a quick glance at the number of players, age groups, what you will need, and projected playing time, making game choice simple. Each game also includes the object of the game, how to play, and interesting variations on each one. Helpful illustrations and the odd fact pocket that dipps into the history and origins of games, make for a fascinating read above and beyond a bit of fun.
Remember Hangman? Crazy Eights? Dictionary, Celebrity Head, Battleships and Murder in the Dark? Go on, dig deep into those memory banks and feel the giggles rise from your toes. Remember how much fun they were?
Adults will delight in the whimsy of memorable games from childhood and will love enthralling the kids when hauling them out of the past.
Anyone for a thumb wrestle?