essays

We Got Game

dice and markersBaby boomers are going all in for games. No, we’re not gamers, as in video gamers. I’m talking old-school games. Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Clue, mahjong, poker, and Bunco (had to look that one up).

It appears that the Twitter era can leave many boomers feeling disconnected. They want a social connection that’s real, face to face. Email is a great way to stay in touch, boomers are clearly flocking to online dating services, and Facebook has almost become a Boomer Boneyard, but it’s not really person to person if you’re not in the same room.

When boomers want a real social connection, they want game(s). A game night is a way to have direct contact with existing friends and a way to meet/make new friends. It doesn’t hurt that these games help boomers stay mentally sharp as well.

Many boomers are selecting retirement communities almost solely on what level of games and activities are available. In other words, socialization through games has become one of the top criteria for ranking a community in which to retire.
What’s funny and ironic about this for me, is that I grew up in a household where there were a lot of games played. Monopoly, card games, crossword puzzles, Perquackey (you can look it up, it’s real), charades, MadLibs, Boggle, U-Boat, Scrabble, you name, we played it. And then it all stopped. Life intervened. There was no time for games, and it all seemed lame to us. We were beyond games andquiddler cards focused on making a living and building careers. While we moved away from the game orbit, our parents dug in even deeper. Every time we returned to the nest for a visit, they were playing a new game and the rules were getting more complicated.

Now we’re the ones who have come full circle. We have more time and the inclination has returned. We’re going to throw dice, cards, chips, whatever, all in the name of being social. Personally, I’m hoping that this doesn’t turn into Monday is Scrabble night, Wednesday is poker/mahjong, Thursday is the trivia contest, and Saturday is Quiddler. In theory, I like the opportunities for socialization that these games afford us, but I also like the idea of expanding our minds by getting out into the big wide world where you meet people of diverse backgrounds and interests.

I guess you could say I’m worried about ending up with a bunch of baby boomers who are trapped in a game ghetto. Escaping from there could be the biggest game of all.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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