The Kid loves boardgames, but it’s a love tempered by a short attention span and dislike of complicated rules. Once an explanation pushes past a single paragraph or half-minute of explanation, her eyes glaze over and she abruptly changes the subject. Part of it is typical teen bullshit and part of it stems from her childhood experiences. We have now doubt she’ll get past it given the time and encouragement, but it does mean that my plans for family D&D nights or weekend sessions of Talisman aren’t really feasible at the present time.
On the other hand, her love of Monopoly is something that tests the limits of my paternal devotion. If push came to shove, I would suffer through those long dreary hours of a game sessions with her, but I’d really prefer to avoid things ever coming to that.
As a result, I’ve been seeking out and acquiring games which fit both her style of visual thinking and my lack of patience. Because I’m a sad soul who spends too much time marinating in Gen X nostalgia, I started things off with a third-hand copy of Milton Bradley’s Stay Alive.
While I can remember the 1978 commercial for the game and “I’m the sole survivor” becoming an ephemeral bit of playground lingo, I can’t remember owning a copy of the game when I was a kid. It — alongside Mouse Trap and most other plastic-heavy ludological artifacts of those times — was usually encountered among the better-off members of my childhood peer group. These were the kids who went to Disneyworld every February vacation, had dedicated rumpus rooms, and owned Intellivision consoles instead of the more plebeian (yet still treasured) Atari 2600.
If I did possess a Stay Alive game, it would’ve been some unboxed and incomplete set scored for a quarter from some church sale. It would’ve been “played” the way most such games were played in my house — with Lil Bro and me futzing around with the moving parts with zero regard for the actual rules. You wouldn’t believe the amount of entertainment two kids could get out of dropping a mismatched assortment of marbles through holes in the days before Gameboys and smartphones.
The Kid was a little wary of the game at first, perhaps sensing the “anything but Monopoly” intent behind my purchase of it. She warmed up to it quickly, however, grasping the mechanics and methodology with ease. I allowed her to work things out on her own instead of armchair quarterbacking her every move, which led to a few moments of “why the hell did she move that slider” followed by her simultaneously sinking two of marbles on her next turn.
A couple of weeks later, and we’ve started to enter the meta-stalemate phase of the game, no matter how we try to randomize the starting positions of the sliders. I’m not sure how that bodes for the game’s longevity as a father-daughter diversion, but it has already paid invaluable dividends in terms of father-daughter bonding.
(And I’ve got a few more simple, prop-heavy games of my childhood arriving to change up the rotation.)