Times have changed for family games. With iPads, iPods, and smartphones abound, the old family card and boardgame standbys like Monopoly and Uno face some serious competition. Is there no middle ground between great family living room classics and Farmville?
I just recently helped my mother upgrade her smartphone, and as an avid Scrabble family growing up, I set her up with Words With Friends so we could keep in touch over tiles and triple word scores. As fun as it is, the point of board games was always to bring the family together in the same place.
Growing up before iPad's ruled the living room, my favorite board games we're always electronic, in fact my personal Monopoly handheld (pass and play or computer play) got so much use the buttons were worn out when it finally made it's way into the garage sale.
Despite the iPad, electronic board games (and board games in general) still have something to offer, in that by design they're meant to be played together. So this holiday season, put away the iPhone, and sit down with your family to enjoy these modern classic, (and fresh spins on a classic) electronic board games.
Scrabble really is a classic family game, for the longest time the board my family played on, must have been from the 1960's, cobbled together with tiles from multiple sets. Scrabble has really stood the test of time, from knock offs like Words With Friends, to modernized wordplay games that bring the Scrabble brand into the 21st century.
Scrabble's Electronic Catchphrase
I was actually introduced to Scrabble's Electronic Catchphrase last night at a house party, and we all got super into it. A great pass and play group experience, Catchphrase is kind of an electronic Password (for those who remember the classic 70's game show). The game centers around an electronic disk which lets you select a category, and two teams go head to head trying to guess their teams clues. A countdown timer keeps the game moving quickly, as the goal is to not be holding the disk when the buzzer sounds.
Speaking of Monopoly, when I was a kid I loved this game, but always hated getting stuck being the banker. Forget that silly paper money, today's high roller rocks the Electronic Banking edition. The cash in hand has been replaced by the swipe of a credit card for your convenience (though it makes cheating by keeping a few bills tucked away in your lap a lot harder).
Remember electronic talking Battleship? I do, it was Christmas, probably around 1987, or 89, and all I wanted from Santa was Electronic Talk Battleship. I can't even imagine kids today caring about something so banal, but to me it was the height of gaming technology...it talked!
Far from just being a retro favorite, Hasbro has released the new Deluxe Electronic Battleship alongside the Battleship movie (there isn't a Hollywood movie out today that isn't some how capitalizing on my generations childhood nostalgia). While I likely won't rush out to see the movie, Battleship is still a great two person classic game, and really a must have for any family gaming collection.
Jenga for iPad
Ok, I know I said to put away your iPhones and iPads, but luckily their are a few decent classic multiplayer board games which work pretty well on the iPad. Jenga for iPad is one of them. No setting up the tower every time someone moves the table!
Simon Electronic Memory Game
What could possibly be one of the first really popular electronic games, Simon is a true classic. It's four colors and simple beeping melodies, Simon still challenges, with modern version available on Amazon, along side a couple of decades worth of classic editions just waiting for a fresh set of AA batteries.
Pacman The Board Game
Researching this article, I came across this oddity, and basically the opposite of most of what I've mentioned here. The board game based on a video game just goes to show the staying power of a good old fashioned standby cardboard and dice game (even if no-one ever played this one).
While video games consoles and iPads have taken over a lot of the niche that board games used to occupy, there still is something special about a board game shared between friends or family. Looking for a nostalgic gift or a just to introduce your gadget obsessed kids to a classic game? Consider hunting down one of these classic electronic games this holiday season.
(Image credits: as linked, header images from Toys 'R' Us)