Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hell on Rungs

Greetings friends. I must apologize for my absence on Monday. My daughter was sick over the weekend and spent most of the time coughing on your's truly and tainting me with her foul magiks. As a result, I was sick on Monday. Not horribly sick, mind you, just sick enough to not want to be at work, which ended up being a good thing as Abby was still sick and I could help out at home with her. Anyways, I'm back, and seemingly healthy, until the next virus that is.

You may have heard visciously untrue rumors about me today. Rumors that I went into a game store and purchased Club House Games for the DS. I am here to tell you that they are completely untrue. Yes, the person who purchased that game looked like me and sounded like me. Yes, that person paid with a card tied to an account that had been opened with not only an exact match of my social security card, but an exact match of my demographic information. Yes, the person who bought that game drove a minivan matching the color, make, model, trim level and license plate of my own, but I can assure you, it wasn't me.

Come here, I have something to tell you.



It was totally me.

I know, I know, I'm a weak man. But there are 42 games in this 30 buck package. 42 games! That comes out to 71 cents a game. 71 cents! I can't get a Snickers bar from the vending maching for 71 cents! Come on, it has Spit. Spit! It also has checkers, chinese checkers, chess and bowling. BOOOOOOWWWWLLIIIINNNGGGG!!!! Say what you will about me, I don't care. I'll be too busy playing spades and poker and backgammon. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! I shall regale you tales of club house gamery on Friday. Mark your calendars.

Speaking of games, Linda and I decided to buy Chutes and Ladders for Ben for his 4th birthday a few weeks ago. The box said it was a "classic children's first game" and was for ages 3+. Lies, lies and more lies. It may be old, but I'm not sure I would call it classic. And it might say it's for ages 3+. but I'll be damned if my kid could follow the complex rules set forth in this magnum opus of leisure activities.

Here's something I never knew, and maybe it's just because it's been some time since I played, but Chutes and Ladders is a thinly disguised morality play. The children start at the bottom, in a hellish pit of despair. As they move upwards, no doubt towards the right hand of their kind and loving G-O-D, they come across opportunities for activities. Choices, if you will. A good choice, such as helping a stray puppy find something to eat, allows you to climb a ladder, thereby getting closer to your eventual goal of ascension. A bad choice, like breaking dishware, causes you to slide down a chute into the darkest pits of Hades.

What the game designers failed to understand is that ladders aren't fun, slides are, so all of these life lessons were completely lost on my son, as he thought the goal was to slide down the slides, not climb up the ladder. I can't blame him. Short of an emergency deplaning, I can't think of any sliding situation that would be unfun, but I can think of many ladder based situations that aren't even remotely fun. Cleaning gutters, clearing cobwebs, caulking, installing ceiling fans, all are ladder based activities that I have participated in, and in none of these cases did I get to do this because I helped an old lady across the street.

Not only was the ladder/slide dichotomy lost on Ben, but he seemed incapable of understanding how to count off the blocks to move his cardboard based avatar. He would spin and then stare at me and say "where's one?" I'd show him that one was the block next to the one he's in and help him count from there. Roughly twenty spins later, and twenty questions later, I was ready to find whoever designed this game and Chute them. Ha! Get it? Sometimes he wouldn't ask me where one was, instead choosing to pick random boxes all over the board and move thusly. Truly his is a revolutionary style of gameplay.

It doesn't help that the last row of blcocks in this game is literally plagued with chutes so long, that the player is deposited into the realm of negative numbers. Try explaining to a 4 year old the concept of the left side of the number line while at the same time explaining that you don't want to go down the chutes, because going down the chutes means you have to keep playing this godforsaken game. It is no fun. No fun at all. We had thought about getting Candyland, because what kid doesn't like candy, but between the games redesign into some sort of Burtonian nightmare, and the fact that it requires cards to play, we felt it wasn't the best choice for our household. We've lost so many cards from various matching games in this house, that we ended up combining all of the remaining cards, and now the only way to win is to match a Triceratops with Spider-Man.

My son's daycare teacher has told us that Ben is exceptionally smart, as he's the only child who can tell her what month it is and other calendar based questions. Personally, I think she should play a board game with him before she starts getting him ready for Harvard. I can only assume that the environment at school is better suited to stimulate his young mind, as when we ask him what month it is, he responds with either "purple" or "eeeee!!!!' or "because, because, because I love him." Oooookay. Next time, instead of a board game, we can just buy him a dayplanner.

1 comment:

Booster MPS said...

Shame on you using integers to depress your poor innocent son....what's next? Imaginary numbers!