January 8th- some notes on parlour games

Parlour games used to be quite the thing. If you ever read a good Victorian novel, like a classic Dickens for instance, you’ll see him leap into a fun discussion of some wonderful parlour games. They’re games that you play as either a family or as friends that really require very little resources: no clever board layout, no pieces and certainly no pieces of electronic equipment. Playing a parlour game feels a world away from online gaming. In a way that’s kind of interesting.

You could map out games on a graph like the type that I’ve drawn:

boardgames
A wholly unscientific and badly drawn chart

We play games for all sorts of different reasons. Sometimes, we want to enhance a particular type of skill so play a game that requires a particular type of thinking, such as chess which throws all our mental energy into the game and not very much into what our mouths are doing. Sometimes, the game is more complex, such as Risk, so playing it requires a bit more thinking and a bit more introspection to be able to best your opponents and grow your skills.

I’m a huge fan of chess, although a terrible player, so I can absolutely understand the draw of playing a game in complete silence for an hour, shifting pieces on the board slowly, the quiet peppered with occasional calls and the calm statements of ‘check’. But sometimes, you need something a little more rowdy.

Parlour games are absolute darlings for games which are slightly more rowdy. There is no complicated board and no difficult set up. These games actually require you to be talkative with those around you. And that can be something which is absolutely lovely.

The parlour game we played tonight was sticking a post-it note on your head and having to guess who is written on it. You question around the room- whether your character is male or female, British or European, fictional or factual, alive or dead.

I had Queen Elizabeth II written on my forehead.

The beauty of games like these is that they force you to have fun, to be ridiculous, to be silly. The object of the game isn’t to win. The object of the game is to end up sharing a laugh with people you like. And that can be pretty special, whatever the occasion.

This graph is not, I repeat not, scientific. Please don’t reference it.

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