Michelle Martin

Playing games

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The word “gamer” nowadays conjures up the image of a teenage or 20-something guy, planted in front of a TV or computer monitor, probably in a dark basement, all by himself.

In our house, the resident gamer is a 9-year-old girl, probably dressed in pink and purple and playing in our living room. She’d like nothing more than to make a career of playing games on YouTube like her heroes do. Or maybe she could be an animator, drawing cartoons based on her life to share with followers all over the world.

In any case, she plays lots of video games: classics like Super Mario Brothers and MarioKart, quest-based games like the Legend of Zelda, role-playing games, building games like Minecraft. As a general rule, we avoid first-person shooter games.

Sometimes we can get a MarioKart or Wii Sports tournament going, but mostly she plays on her own, or in online games with other kids she knows.

But lately, we’ve been playing more board games as a family. Sorry! is a recent favorite, given that everyone in the family can play and it has wild swings in momentum. No one really has an advantage, it doesn’t take too long and everyone can have fun.

It’s one of dozens of games we’ve collected over the years: at least three varieties of Monopoly from Frank’s years when he loved the game, a couple of editions of Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble, Apples to Apples, checkers, you name it.

At family gatherings, there’s usually bingo, train dominoes or Left-Right-Center. If we want to get fancy, there’s Uno.

None of the games we play as a family require much in the way of strategy or skill, and all of them rely a lot on luck: the luck of the draw or the luck of the dice. The youngest player has as much chance to win as the oldest.

For some the games, like bingo, the younger players seem to have an advantage, if only because they are paying more attention to the numbers and less to the adults’ chatter. It’s never the grade-schooler who is surprised to find out it’s her turn.

Games, like sports, have their share of life lessons: play by the rules, don’t cheat, it’s more important to have fun than it is to win, keep playing and you’ll probably win eventually. Don’t be a sore loser, and don’t be a poor winner.

Those are lessons that I hope Teresa takes with her when she plays games with her friends and with other kids. I know that not everyone will play that way, just like not every kid on the playground plays nice.

In the same way, not everyone she meets in life will play fair or even want to play at all. But learning to play will always help her find a way to get along.



  • family life