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 December 3, 1999

Game players have more choices than ever

Why do you suppose that few of us like to be considered game players, but most of us like to play games? It must have something to do with the psychological manipulations we’ve stamped as head games, in direct contrast to the straightforward, adversarial competition associated with manufactured game boards and pieces.

What a wealth of the latter kind of games there is to be played! Leaving aside, for the moment, the possibilities available on the Web, “traditional” board games take up 90 feet of shelf space when arranged, for example, alphabetically at Toys ‘R’ Us, and use comparable space at other stores.

Everything from Ouija boards that glow in the dark to casino-style dispenser bingo games await your amusement in toy stores that offer more than just kids’ fare. Cases in point: The Newlywed Game – for “2-4 couples for Mature Adults” – surely seems designed for an older audience than typically patronizes toy stores, as does Rumors, “The Most Fun You Can Have Talking.”

Then there are the games we grew up with: Monopoly (now available in five versions – original, NASCAR, Star Wars, Millennium and Collectors; six variants of Star Wars, a couple of which are electronic; and five choices for Trivial Pursuit (original, Dummies, Genius 4, Junior and Millennium).

If power (physical, mental, financial, or the aforementioned manipulative) is more your style, check out the World Wrestling Association’s On The Ropes, Risk – the Game of Global Domination, TV Mogul that enables you to program shows and personalities with brutal disregard for people’s feelings, or Pit, which allows you to “Corner the Market.”

Should you be feeling either not quite that cutthroat or more kindly disposed toward your fellow human beings, there’s still dominoes, chess, cribbage, and – yes, even tic tac toe .

For those whose shopping time is compressed, catalogs offer a wondrous array of games, and gift selection can be accomplished without leaving the comfort of home.

The Seasons catalog, for example, offers “Life Stories,” billed as a way to get young and old to talk to each other about life experiences.

Wireless, NPR’s “Catalog for Fans and Friends of Public Radio,” offers its own specialized versions of Monopoly; the “Bass Fishing” edition and the “Golf” edition. Also available from Wireless, if ordinary board games seem too low-brow, is “Apples to Apples,” a synonym search game honored by Mensa.

Time consuming though it may be, going through the mountains of catalogs that arrive in your mail box at this time of year can provide felicitous results.

And then there’s always the Web. While for some – for whom playing games in a candle-lit room with a glass of wine glows with romantic possibilities — the idea of matching wits with a computer seems the epitome of loneliness, for others it’s an intellectual challenge. Pick your game, do a search, and the number of “across the board” players is unlimited.

Also without boundaries is the number of games offered for sale on the Web. www.areyougame.com , which advertises itself as the “Largest Game Store On The Planet,” offers a selection for any age, any price range. Likewise, it’s pretty hard to imagine that you couldn’t find the perfect gift game at www.sellingpower.com/holiday-specials/index.asp.

And for a whole different meaning of “board” game, there’s the $160 Kings Arms English Dartboard set that includes dartboard, six premium brass darts and a fine-wood cabinet from Sporty’s Preferred Living Catalog. Or, from the same source, there’s the electronic dartboard that comes pre-programmed with nine electronic games.

Why do you suppose that few of us like to be considered game players, but most of us like to play games? It must have something to do with the psychological manipulations we’ve stamped as head games, in direct contrast to the straightforward, adversarial competition associated with manufactured game boards and pieces.

What a wealth of the latter kind of games there is to be played! Leaving aside, for the moment, the possibilities available on the Web, “traditional” board games take up 90 feet of shelf space when arranged, for example, alphabetically at Toys ‘R’ Us, and use comparable space at…

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