Analog Fun

Dominoes face-up on a table

By MJ Ali

My sister bought board games from eBay one year, and it was really fun to reminisce about how much fun we had playing them as kids. Handling the weight of the pieces, remembering the artwork on the boards, seeing the card faces, it all brought back a lot of memories that were very tactile.

What activities can you remember from childhood? I can remember some typical ones, but also some quirky games my sisters and I used to make up together. Like, holding a hand mirror in front of us pointed toward the ceiling while we walked around in the house. It seemed like we were actually walking on the ceiling, and it was funny and fun. Card games were big in our family, as well as linear logic puzzles, dominoes, backgammon and chess. Eye-hand coordination toys like yoyo’s and those ball-and-paddle toys, jump rope (anyone remember double dutch?), and creating worlds from our imaginations were all big parts of childhood. And, I’m finding, a big part of adulthood, too.

If you’re looking for ways to get a little digital/analog balance in your life, it’s probably a lot easier than you think. There are so many analog ways to have fun and relax.

Closeup of hand drawing with chalk on sidewalk

  • Re-enact some of the games on Hollywood Game Night
  • Try these fun pencil-and-paper games
  • Riddles are fun (and sometimes frustrating but mostly fun and worth it!)
  • Pictionary – this site gives you explanations, rules and random word generators
  • And, if it’s not a gazillion degrees where you are, 30 classic outdoor games await
  • Sidewalk chalk party
  • Darts! There are magnetic ones to avoid “hey!” or “ouch!” situations
  • OFPG (Our Family Plays Games)! This family has a YouTube channel packed with great board game info and reviews, and information on diversity in board games found nowhere else

The games our family has the most raucous chaotic fun with, no matter what age, happen around the table:

I Doubt It
Good bluffing is key to winning this one. Good luck!

Sh*thead (We pronounce this with the “th” sound and a long “ead” to make it sound not like what it is when there are very young humans around). It may seem a little complicated at first, but trust me. Stick with it; it’s totally worth it.

We just use a regular deck, the more players the better, and we don’t use signs or sounds, just really hard animal names to torture our opponents’ memories. In this game, players take turns placing a card face-up in the middle of the table. The first person to see a pair and successfully yell out the animal name of the player who put down the matching card takes the pile. The game continues until there are no cards left, and the person with the biggest pile wins. There are variations of this game, but the constant is the chaos!

Play is essential. Whatever that means to you (a game of solitaire, frisbee with friends or dogs or both, play wrestling, making paper airplanes), I hope we all get ample and frequent opportunities to practice and enjoy that wonderful balance of productivity and rejuvenation.

Balance is good. Balance between work and play, and balance between digital and analog. I feel healthier when I’m striving for that balance. Computers and video games have been part of my life since high school, and I love them both, but — thanks to the foundation laid down by parents and grandparents — I’ve always enjoyed and appreciated a balance with sports, music, art, writing, activism, intellectual pursuits, holistic mind-body-spirit integration and spiritual practice.

“Everything in moderation” is the cliché that keeps on giving, and ringing true. (Except maybe love. And laughter.)

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