While on holiday, The Wife bought a copy of The Independent. It had a magazine called 'The Information' which had a cover story about 'The fifty best games'. Cool, I thought, I'd love to see what they rate.
The panel of judges who had picked the games consisted: of a curator of games from the V&A Museum, the owner of the Compendia games shop, an editor of a parenting magazine, the Independent's own computer games reviewer and, bizarrely, an MD of a luxury hotel PR company. Weird.
Based on the judges I expected a lot of traditional games, with a few computer games thrown in. I was hopeful that some modern games would have snuck in there, but I wasn't expecting many. I was disappointed. The choices were obviously aimed at children rather than adults, but still - disappointing. So now I feel the need to vent.
The computer games were a pretty good pick: Singstar (2), Buzz! the Big Quiz (7), Dance Factory (12), Big Brain Academy (17), Lego Star Wars II (22), XBox Live Arcade (27), Eye Toy Play 3 (32), Guitar Hero (37), Mario Party 7 (42) and Zoo Tycoon 2 (47). Several are inovative, and a bit more interactive than the usual camp-out-in-front-of-the-controller fare.
Traditional games I expected to get a large showing, with someone from a traditional games company on the panel. The list was mostly to be expected, but the order was very bizarre: Dominoes (29), Cribbage (34), Backgammon (38), Go (46), Bagatelle (48). I'm crap at chess, so I don't really enjoy it, but one of the top fifty games? I think it's a shoe in, it's been a hugely popular for 1400 years. But no, dominoes is better. Apparently.
Dexterity games get a decent showing too, which is fair enough as they can be a lot of fun: Twister (3), Pikastyk (8), Race Cups Sport Stacking Kit(What the fu-hey?) (10), Polarity (20), Jenga (33) and Operation (43).
Standard board games got a disappointingly large showing: Scrabble (6), UNO H20 & UNO Spin (9), Trivial Pursuit (11), Guess Who (14), Happy Families (18), Cluedo (23), Rummikub (24), Snakes and Ladders (28), Memory (30), Monopoly (36), Pass the Pigs (39) Pit (44), Connect 4 (45), Shut The Box (49). Happy Families better than Go? Interesting.
Party games are also well represented, as you would expect. These games sell phenominally well, reach out to a much larger audience than modern games, and are available in a far wider range of outlets. Pictionary (13), Cranium (16), Apples to Apples (19), Articulate (26), Absolute Balderdash (31) and Friends Sceneit (41) are a pretty good selection (with the exception of the last one maybe - although I've not played it so I can't really say).
Now we move into BoardGameGeek territory. Modern games: None. Not one. Nada. Wargames: None. Ok, Risk at 21 almost counts. But it's not very good.
I've saved the two major disappointments for last. The number of puzzles (not even games) was too big: Sudoku (4), Noughts and Crosses (5), Rubik's Cube (15), Solitaire (35), Tantrix (50). And finally, the best game ever? Pirates of the Caribbean Buccaneer. Not convinced. At all. Perhaps they should have entitled the article: 'Fifty Well-Known Games Of Varying Quality With Families In Mind'. It's less catchy though, admittedly.
... and relax. I feel better for having got that off my chest :-)
Sadly I didn't get to Paul's games night yet again last night, but I was interviewed via email for a UK games magazine. It's the first time in my life I've given an interview, on any subject. Hopefully, I wasn't too dull...