It’s never all fun and games
By Jeff Allen, Contributor
It’s Saturday night and I’m at a house party. I’ve been playing the part of a smug, pompous ass all evening and it’s getting awkward. I secretly hope someone will come along and kill me. I’m not used to wearing a cape. I’m not a party games kind of guy.
Admittedly, this is the first murder-mystery-birthday-party I’ve ever attended. It’s taken about two weeks of mental preparation to work up the nerve to be here. Everyone is dressed up like a superhero, as stipulated by the rules of the game. I’m nowhere near drunk enough to feel at ease in my homemade superhero costume. My wig is making my head feel hot and itchy.
Perhaps I lack a competitive spirit. Seriously, doesn’t anybody just sit around, drink, yap, and eat chips anymore? What’s with this communal need to constantly challenge one another when we gather?
I blame technology for society’s need to socialize and compete simultaneously. We play apps on cell phones all day then tweet about it. Who’s winning? What’s your status? I guess party games and mystery parties like this are how people are choosing to unplug from their electronic devices and kick it old school. It doesn’t surprise me that board games seem to be making a resurgence in popular culture. I hear that Monopoly is being developed into a reality television series.
Before you peg me as some sort of anti-social, anti-gaming snob, let me assure you I have nothing against people who enjoy board games, poker nights, or Xbox get-togethers with friends. I’ve discovered Cards Against Humanity can be a charming distraction during the holiday season.
My beef is when a guest is bombarded like a plastic submarine in Battleship, secretly sabotaged upon arrival with the announcement of a game where everyone’s participation is mandatory. I have a long history of suffering in this department. Trust me, you quickly get branded as the weirdo when you grab a drink and say that you would rather just watch.
The featured choice of entertainment at a get-together says more about you than the snacks on the table, the brand of beer in the cooler, or the tracks your iPod selects on shuffle. Board games are rarely democratic. You impose your taste on everyone. You will forever be branded the Cranium Couple by your guests the moment you and your mate suggest playing it between Maroon 5 albums.
I still have eye-twitching flashbacks of my lacklustre card shuffling techniques being put on display before a table of ardent and vocal Skip-Bo fans. I went to a Valentine’s Day shindig once where guests were expected to leave the party and perform assigned romantic gestures, like hugging complete strangers in the street. I opted to become a drunken spectator at a nearby pub.
I guess what I’m saying is that party games just aren’t for everybody. I go out to relax and mingle, not to memorize rules and keep tabs on whose turn is next. That being said, I don’t get invited to a whole lot of parties anymore. Maybe I’m a killjoy.
On this particular night, my character is mercifully killed off in the second round. I am now officially a ghost. While my fellow partygoers continue to search for clues as to my killer’s identity, I am left to dwell upon my next assignment: assuming the role of a slightly more amusing version of my grumpy old self.