x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

The rise of the board game

For one 8-year-old, the Cluedo board game beats the PSP hands down.

It's been more than three weeks and my almost eight-year-old nephew has not touched his PSP. Instead, he has let it rest on the bookshelf and has not even asked about it. It is not broken and he is not bored with the games he has.

Rewind a couple of months ago, and wherever he went, it went. Most times you could not have a proper conversation without his fingers going wild as he tried to battle through the latest game. His neck would tilt in a way to suggest he is listening to you but his eyes all the while are still glued to the miniature screen. Most parents are all too familiar with this pose, I'm sure.

When my sister booked her tickets to Dubai for a visit, I had one goal in mind: to finally beat her in Monopoly. We hadn't played the game in years but after a chat about all the old board games we used to play, I decided to go out and buy it. As I browsed the games section at Borders, I noticed an electronic version of Monopoly, but decided to stick with the original. As I checked out some of the other games, I saw that they also had Cluedo, which is one of my favourites, so without hesitating, I stacked it on top of Monopoly. I resisted the temptation to buy Connect 4 (yes, it still exists) and made a note to myself to come back for Pictionary.

When my sister arrived, the first thing I did was get the games out. Confession: every time we play I am always the one who ends up in debt somehow. This time, however, was going to be different for me and my old friend "the shoe", I told myself. With the money in place and dice ready to roll, we began the game with my young nephew wanting a piece of the action. He was definitely attracted to the idea of handling all that money.

I was off to a promising start, buying Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus and even Park Lane. I was sent to jail but had a Get Out of Jail Free card, so it was all good.

Once houses and hotels got in the way, it was all over for me and once again, I was in debt after landing on the hotel-filled Pall Mall, of all places. Never mind, I thought, due to my love of the Investigation Discovery Channel, I would beat her at Cluedo. And sure enough, I did - a couple of times. My nephew watched as we played and fell in love with the game immediately. Yes, it's a murder/mystery game but there is no blood or gore and no ripping off of limbs, no zombies are hunting you and not a single vampire tries to suck your blood. He loves the mystery behind it, using your mind and clever tactics in such a way as to keep your opponent guessing. The physical involvement beats any computer game he has played, he said. If he's not playing that, he's playing Guess Who, which my sister bought for him recently.

In the meantime, the PSP remains on the bookshelf as the old school becomes the new school.


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