Board Games: The New Fruitcake

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"Today is Christmas. There will be a magic show at eleven hundred hours."

 That's one of my favorite lines in FULL METAL JACKET. In context, it's bizarre and almost completely alien.

 Anyway, it's not Christmas yet but it may as well be over at Gameshark.com because like a much slimmer Santa, I have delivered     my annual Christmas Message to the World and this year it is "Fruitcake is a better present than board games". Fruitcake tastes    good and makes you think of the holidays. A crappy, ill-considered board game gift is an emotional and psychological burden.

 Easy now baby, it's the holidays. There's no call for all those pitchforks and torches.

 Games are everywhere you look in retail right now. People are buying more games as we speak than they do all year. Right now,      copies of MAD GAB, CRANIUM, PICTUREKA, and- for god's sake- the TWILIGHT board game are flying off store shelves. Sure, there's a pile or two of decent games at Barnes and Noble, but everybody who actually wants them knows they'll be 75% off December 26. People buy games because they seem like good gifts, and they're easy. For example, you could probably tickle Bill Abner's Yuletide fancy by buying him that Ohio State MONOPOLY board he put among the pictures for this article. Or perhaps there's some hapless Whiskey Tango boyfriend out there thinking "Hey, Brandeen loves TWILIGHT...I was going to get her some trashbags to replace the busted windows on her doublewide but I think she'd really like that board game with them fancy vampires in it". Or there's that whole subset of holiday shoppers that will rush in and grab a copy of CLUE or SCRABBLE as a last minute gift- not bad games at all, but seriously, who wants those as presents when they're going to spend an awful lot of time stuck up in a closet? There's a reason that we see the kinds of games we do at thrift stores and yard sales, and that reason is Christmas presents.

I don't like getting board games for Christmas...I get board games all year 'round. I wouldn't be surprised by one under the tree, I'd be embarassed and possibly devastated  depending on what it was. If it were something good, odds are I'd either already have it or already traded it on to someone else. But if anyone draws my name in any kind of Secret Santa thing, I won't turn down a copy of CHAOS IN THE OLD WORLD.



 Michael is a member of the Fortress: Ameritrash staff, and a regular columnist for Gameshark.

Click here for more board game articles by Michael Barnes.

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Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of FortressAT.com and Nohighscores.com as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

Articles by Michael

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