Were you one of the millions who added that clever five-letter word game to your daily routine this year? If so, I’m right there with you, and if you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend it. In fact, here’s a case study: My family and I have never shared a family group text until Wordle! We are now quite competitive with Wordle. And this led to Quordle, and Loble, and yes, even Filmle. Why?
Games are Good For You
Games get us together and keep us together. During the pandemic, my kids, husband, and I played more board games than at any time since they were in kindergarten. We did puzzles alone and together, played Scrabble a dozen different ways, played games with friends online, played games with friends far away over FaceTime and Zoom. Now that we’ve all started going out again, the novelty of inviting friends over for game night is still with us.
Need proof that weekly game night is good for kids? Let Ellie Dix convince you with her book, "The Board Game Family." Eating dinner together even just once a week strengthens kids’ self-esteem. But did you know that out-strategizing their parents builds it even better?
Monopoly Tips & Tricks
Even our Director of Community Engagement, Matt McNally is a fan of games, especially the board game Monopoly. In fact, he is the 2003 U.S. Monopoly Champion! He even shared with me some tips and fun statistics if you find yourself in front of a Monopoly Board:
- You would think that Park Place & Boardwalk are the best properties to own, but that’s not necessarily true. The orange properties of St. James Place, Tennessee Avenue, and New York Avenue provide the best investment on the board. Only the railroads are landed on more frequently than the oranges.
- Seven is the most commonly rolled number when rolling two die, followed by 6 and 8, and then 5 and 9. The oranges happen to lie 6, 8, and 9 spaces away from the most commonly landed-on space in the entire game, which is Jail.
- A typical rule of thumb is that spaces closer to Free Parking are landed on more frequently than those closer to GO. These factors also make the orange properties the most coveted properties on the board when trading ensues. Some strong, championship-level players won’t even trade them away because they’re so powerful!
Want to learn more?
Check out these Monopoly items at your local library!
Monopoly (Special Note: Chapter 14 is called McNally’s Method)
Practicing Life Skills – Free at the Library!
Playing games teaches all kinds of life skills - taking turns, winning and losing gracefully, strategizing, memorization and recall, quick thinking, even relaxation. Young or old, there are games for everyone. And if you’re a tad old like me, you will remember that games existed before everything went digital. (Seems like just yesterday, right?)
As I always say, why spend money when everything is FREE at the library? Many of our libraries have fun, classic board games such as Sorry! and Scrabble available for checkout. And ALL of our branches have video games. There are Lego titles for the littles, Kirby adventures for older kids, and Elven Ring and Divinity for the grownups. NBA2K22 and Madden NFL22 will keep your esports skills hot! We have games for both Xbox and Playstation platforms.
A Fascinating History
Before you dive in and play, I recommend getting your game history on. I started with "Board Games in 100 Moves" by Ian Livingstone and "Seven Games: A Human History" by Oliver Roeder. Both books trace the place of games in human development as well as the importance of gaming to our culture.
Bebo, also known as Brittanie Boe, was born in Olympia, Washington, and moved to Seattle in her early 20's to chase her dreams of working in gaming. She finally landed her dream gig and learned it all. Bebo went on to write "The Everything Tabletop Games Book: From Settlers of Catan to Pandemic, Find Out Which Games to Choose, How to Play, and the Best Ways to Win!" It's a veritable encyclopedia of gaming. You might even gain some tips on winning strategies!
Another favorite along these lines is, "It's All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan" by British Journalist Tristan Donovan. A renowned games expert, Donovan reveals the incredible and often surprising history and psychology of board games. He traces the evolution of the game across cultures, time periods, and continents, from the paranoid Chicago toy genius behind classics like Operation and Mouse Trap to the role of Monopoly in helping prisoners of war escape the Nazis, and even the scientific use of board games today to teach artificial intelligence how to reason and how to win.
More Tips, Tricks & How-To’s
Not to brag, but I own the word games competition and Scrabble is still my old-school favorite. I swear by the "Official Scrabble Players Dictionary," updated with more than 100,000 playable two-to-eight-letter words with hundreds of new words including facepalm, listicle, bitcoin, and emoji.
I also enjoyed "Word Nerd: Dispatches From the Games, Grammar, and Geek Underground" by John D. Williams, Jr. He explores anagrams, palindromes, the highest-scoring Scrabble plays of all time, and the birth of the World Scrabble Championship, as well as many of the more colorful figures that inhabit this subculture. Die-hard word fans will find tips on how top players see their boards and learn to apply this to their own game strategies.
Bringing Games to Life Through Books & Movies
Keep your kids in the game with the delightful "Clue Mystery" series from Diana Peterfreund. The three-book series celebrates the spirit of Clue while students solve a series of murders at the elite Blackbrook Academy. Start with "In the Hall With the Knife."
"Secrets and Scrabble" is the newest cozy mystery series by Josh Lanyon. Our hero, Ellery Page, is an aspiring screenwriter, Scrabble champion, and guy-with-worst-luck-in-the-world-when-it-comes-to-dating, and is ready to make a change. When he learns he's inherited both a failing bookstore and a falling-down mansion in the quaint seaside village of Pirate's Cove on Buck Island, Rhode Island, it's full steam ahead!
If you haven’t picked up Amy Tan’s "The Joy Luck Club" in a while, now is the time. It will remind you of the deep bonds we can make with each other while regularly gaming together.
Pressed for time? Watch the movie instead. Or Clue the movie, Game Night (a hilarious Jason Bateman gem), Stranger Things (a series to remind you how much fun Dungeons and Dragons is), or Knives Out (a Clue-like mystery if ever there was one). We’re here to help you have fun and bring more games into your world, however you like!