Sunday 5 December 2010

The Bonkers House is under attack

Warfare has erupted in the Bonkers House. Literal warfare, as in guns firing, grenades being lobbed, bombs detonating.
‘I’m going in!’
‘Cover me!’
James was given Call of Duty: Black Ops for his birthday. I know, I know – it’s an 18-certificate and I was deeply sceptical. Adrian, on the other hand, was typically blokeishly gung-ho about it.
‘It’s fine. His friends play this stuff. I’ve played this stuff.’ (er, once, at a mate’s in London when he was doubtless three sheets to the wind). ‘Anyhow, it’s legitimate killing in the Theatre of War. There’s no crime or rape or violence against women.’
Oh, so that’s alright then.
A few years back, when James first got into gaming, I spent hours trawling the Internet, convinced that gaming wasn’t good for children (or adults, come to that) – that there had to be side-effects. Weirdly, and annoyingly, I came up with very little. In fact, evidence seemed to point to the contrary – that gaming could help children with hand to eye coordination, with brain development and with a host of skills. More recently researchers have taken another look and observed that violent video games do fire up the area of the brain connected with aggression. But, interestingly, they didn’t find a correlation with real-life violence.

I suppose that is mildly reassuring but James’ behaviour definitely changes when he plays Black Ops. He becomes surly, irritable and downright stroppy. So, this Christmas, we’ll be waving bye-bye to body counts and bazookas and getting out the board games instead.

I know, I know (inner groan time). If we’re honest, we’ve (nearly) all let the games console play babysitter. And yes, traditional games take time and effort on the part of parents. But, come on guys, it’s Christmas! Once I get going (yes, okay, sloe gin or a large slug of Midori helps), I do rather enjoy some of these.

Articulate: A friend bought us this a few Christmasses back and it is, quite honestly, hilarious. The key is inter-generational play. It says 12+ on the box and younger children won’t know all the answers but team them up with adults (and preferably confused grandparents) and it’s a hoot. Actually I have nearly wet myself with laughter playing this.

Perudo: This is a South American game of ‘Liars Dice’. It’s a mix of guesswork, bluff and luck. Incredibly simple and the best thing is that you don’t need hordes of people: just two can play or up to six. Not really my cup of tea but James loves it. 8+

Don’t Say It! This is a little cracker – encourages children to think and expand vocabulary but equally tantalisingly tough for adults. You have to describe an object without using the obvious words (ie describe a balloon without saying ‘pop’, ‘blow’ or ‘float’... It's another one that will get grandparents' knickers in a right old twist.  6+

Urban Myth: This is a bit like QI mixed with Trivial Pursuit. Can you tell the difference between fact and modern folklore? Did Marilyn Monroe wear a size 16 dress? Are there really alligators living in the New York sewers? 12+ for this one but, like Articulate, I reckon it’s fine for younger children teamed with adults.

Tyrannosaurus Rex: I really really REALLY hate board games (can't abide Monopoly, feel physically sick at the thought of Cluedo) but I can tolerate this one (mainly because it doesn’t last forever). You race round the board, trying to keep out the way of the dreaded T-Rex. James loved this one when he was younger.. 6+ (and can be played with as few as two of you if, like us, you’re a small and imperfectly formed family).

Twister: Another classic and a good ‘un for small children (as well as the inevitable teen parties). Word of warning – not one to play with elderly grannies. Just trust me on this. The emergency services are always overstretched at this time of year.  This says 6+ on the box but just go for it (very small limbs will struggle but hey, it encourages flexibility!). My brother bent me into knots when I was four and it hasn't done me any harm... *hmm*

Any I’ve missed? Any crackers you’d like to add on?  

Meanwhile, I’m still touting for clicks to NEXT.... Thank you so much for the good-hearted souls who have already clicked and will, doubtless click again for the warm fuzzy feeling you gain from giving succour to the Bonkers House. For those more cynical souls, there is an incentive Next are giving away all sorts of goodies from now to 22nd December. Today you can win gadgets worth £210 so click HERE and try your luck.


Tattieweasle said...

Glad I am not the only one to notice that when The Boy plays with computer games he becomes a tad irratable and surly! And yes I too use it as a babysitter...BAD BAD but surely better than said child seeing Mum come over all competitive with the board games...I'm a demon at Trvial and don't get me on Monopoly as for Perudo, me lie!!!!???? Heaven forbid!

Exmoorjane said...

LOL, Tattie! I'm WAY too competitive too...get very stroppy if I don't win. James always rolling his eyes if we play Monopoly - 'It's just a GAME, Mum. Chill out.' *blush*

Headhuntress said...

Gosh, I hate all these horrible games. My son (who is also called James) is absolutely obsessed with them. I've now banned him from playing the "too old" stuff.

The Xbox is a great way to get him to behave himself though. "If you [insert chore]you can play the Xbox when you've finished..."

"What did you do?!... No Xbox this evening!"

Not sure how he will cope when he is an adult. But I've told him that if he doesn't et a decent job he won't be able to afford the electricity for the Xbox. He has Asperger's, but the Xbox metaphor seems to resonate with him!

Miss Havisham said...

Christmas is THE time for board games! It's a must! Although we are increasingly using those that come with DVD interaction. Like Scene It.

But my all time favourite board game that very few people I know are willing to play is BALDERDASH.
For those not familiar with it - you have to write a false definition to a real word. The real word, taken from the pack, is unusual so it can be easy to fool your fellow players into thinking it's the correct definition.

Rob-bear said...

May your re-experience the joy of board games (not bored games).

Wally B said...

Our little angel definately gets fired up when he plays video games. We don't have any, and won't get any, so we will be on his bad list this Christmas

Carah Boden said...

Again, dear Jane, we are on a wavelength! I was in glorious Macclesfield, just this afternoon, on a mission to buy Family Trivial Pursuit which I spotted in WHSmith just a week or two back. I went in specially to get it but...oh, sold out. Bummer! Clearly there are others out there that believe there is more to life than video games....and I'm one of them. Such a traditionalist. Or just plain old. xxx

Fennie said...

There's a game I loved much more than the children. We called it Tin Mining. I can't remember it's proper title. Anyhow you bought your own mine in South American and then had to mine and ship something or other overseas buying or hiring lorries, ships and ports in the process, acquiring truly fabulous sums of toy money and being besets by pirates, gangsters kidnappers and so on. It did suffer from being interminable and Younger Daughter inevitably won because she is just jammy and therefore wins all board games. But owning a mine - even a paper one - is a great experience. I once worked for - an almost had a share in - a gold mine in Ecuador. But all I got out of it was a single Ecuadorian banknote of so many 'sucres' - sugars which is apparently what their currency is (or was). But that's another story and a long time ago before computer gaming was invented.

DD said...

I'm sorry, I absolutely loathe board games and would almost rather play Sudden Death Assasin or whatever, I'm definitely with James, in the combat gear, with Monopoly in my sights ....

VP said...

I get surly, irritable and downright stroppy when I'm on the computer and I don't do any gaming.

I'm forming a theory that [excessive] computer usage leads to aggression, moodiness, depression and a host of other nasties.

For instance, I've noticed I don't sleep well if I've been on the computer late at night.

Therefore your chosen strategy looks a wise one for us all to adopt :)

CAMILLA said...

Love the Header to your post Jane.

Yep, my Grandson is on to these games too, loads of board games when he comes to stay over also, there is usually though some disagreement about who is going to be a winner of points.!


CAMILLA said...

Forgot to say Jane, have clicked the Next logo many times for you.!


Unknown said...

I thinks it's about reasonable usage, both computer and board games! I can only take an hour or so of both, but that could be that I'm useless at most games and my attention drifts once I've lost!!

But it has to be scrabble...but play with only festive words?!

Northern Snippet said...

That's a perfect replay of what happens in our house all the time.Your research actually made me feel a bit better,I hadn't bothered looking into it in too much detail,probably in case I found out something terrifying.And I feel guilty about the time they spend on it,and they do get very stroppy and don't answer when they're playing it..
I think its time to revisit the Xmas board games!

Family Affairs said...

YES don't forget Bananagrams - invented by my friend and currently No 1 game in the UK. In fact - I could arrange for a competition or something - let me know if you have an idea Lx

English Mum said...

Late to the party here but HAD to comment. My oldest is completely addictive to Black Ops and we have to limit the time for exactly the same reason - he's irritable and aggressive.

I guess it's okay but in small doses? x