Today’s lunch time news chum brings together a collection of articles all having to do with games and amusements (as opposed to gaming the system — I may have an article on that tomorrow):
- A Granddaddy of Gaming. One of my many hobbies is the history of Las Vegas–especially the early days of the strip. Thus I was interested to see an article in the Las Vegas Sun about Jackie Gaughan. While not one of the founders, he’s one of the few people from the early days still arounds. He’s owned numerous casinos on and off the strip, and has been a vital element in the revitalization of downtown Vegas as the long time owner of the El Cortez. Fascinating article, well worth reading.
- Behind the Scenes. An interesting profile piece in the LA Times this weekend looked at a key player in the amusement park industry that you rarely hear about: Bud Hurlbut. Hurlbut operated a workshop in Buena Park that built and refurbished carousels, miniature train rides, antique car rides and countless accessories destined for amusement parks around the world–including rides at Knotts. Hurlbut died recently, and his shop is being sold off so that the city can build on the property. It is fascinating to read about all that this craftsman built.
- Chess. As we’re talking about pieces built for parks, it is worth noting that the world’s largest chess piece has gone on display in St. Louis MO. It is of a king, it is 14.5 feet high, and weighs 2,280 pounds. It has been installed in front of the World Chess Hall of Fame, which is also in St. Louis for what I’m sure must be a good reason.
P.S.: Appropos of nothing, simply because a like it: A recipe for avgolomono soup.
Music: Dixieland Cajun Style (Red Nichols): My Melancholy Baby
Today, I visited my stepmother, and it got me thinking…. about gaming for good.
The backstory is that a few weeks ago (shortly before our trip to Berkeley), my stepmother had a small stroke. She’s going to have a full recovery, but is still in the hospital, hopefully being released next week. Today was the first chance I got to visit her. I’m pleased to see that she’s doing well: she’s talking — a bit slower than normal and its harder to find the words — and she’s moving — again, a bit slower than normal. We went with her to speech and cognitive therapy, and that’s where this post began to form in my head.
The exercises they had her doing were very similar to a lot of games. She was attempting to match shapes and fill spaces. She was completing sentences and writing words. I talked to the therapist a bit, and she agreed that a number of games could be very good for this. To my mind, games such as the ones in the Blokus family would be great, as might card games such as Coloretto or Set, as well as classics such as Scrabble or Clue. I’m trying to think of accessible games–especially those that might be found at a Target or Barnes and Noble.
So I did some searching on Boardgame Geek and came up with other ideas, such as Rapid Recall, Apples to Apples, Qwirkle, Rummikube, or even classics like Boggle or Stratego.
This is why I love the boardgaming world. We’re not just the gigantic hex-grid games of old, or the dumb roll-and-move games. Boardgaming can provide games that will help people and challenge their brains. I welcome your suggestions in this thread of other games.
Music: tick… tick… Boom! (2001 Off-Broadway Cast): No More
This is a reminder that the
TAS Men’s Club Men of TAS is hosting doing a family gaming (i.e., boardgaming) afternoon on Sunday, 1/22, at Ahavat Shalom in Northridge. The event is free; we’ll have some snacks available for a nominal charge (plus we’re likely to order in something if there is enough interest).
If you are into boardgaming, word games, or other non-electronic games… and you aren’t gamed out by the Games Day on Saturday, then I encourage you to come on over. I’d love to see you, and we can use people who know games to help teach games.
So remember, boardgaming at TAS on Sunday, starting around 1130am. Exit Route 118 at Reseda, go E on Rinaldi to Chimineas, make a right, and we’re on the other side of the bridge.
Music: Company (2006 Broadway Revival) (Company): Opening
This is a reminder that our quasi-annual New Years Eve Boardgaming Party will be (duh) on New Years Eve. I’ve sent out invitations to local folk (i.e., Southern California) and potentially local folk who I thought would be interested. If you’ve seen the invitation, we hope you can make it — please let me know by commenting/responding in an appropriate place. If you’re in SoCal and might be interested, please contact me for specifics. Note: As this version of the post is public, I do reserve the right not to provide specifics if I have absolutely no idea who you are (so introduce yourself :-)).
Music: Folk Era Live Sampler (The Clancy Brothers): Finnegan’s Wake
A few lunchtime news items on some recent changes announced in the news:
- Borders Bankruptcy. If you haven’t read it by now, Borders has filed Chapter 11. They are closing a lot of stores. This article summarizes the SoCal closures, and here’s a full list. Looking at the SoCal closures: (a) I’m glad Northridge isn’t closing; (b) the one in Sherman Oaks is no surprise — it was a horrible location; (c) the one in Pasadena is probably great news for Vromans; (d) the one in Westchester, again, was a terrible location, in Howard Hughes Plaza.
- Monopoly. Hasbro is coming out with a cashless version of Monopoly, where a central computer rolls the dice, collects rent, manages the bank, auctions properties, and introduces various new things when the game seems to slow down. Sigh. I didn’t think there was a way Monopoly could be made worse (it is, after all, roll and move), but Hasbro came up with one.
- Feed a Cold. For those that thought chicken soup was good for a cold, research is showing zinc may be better. Of course, research is also showing there is no cure for the cold.
In today’s The Producer’s Perspective blog, Ken Davenport writes about a new boardgame he has developed called “Be a Broadway Star”. Skimming the rules, it looks to be mostly “roll and move”, with some additional singing bits and Broadway-themed complications, like Equity cards and publicists. They don’t give an estimate of play time.
This intrigues me to some extent. After all, I have the board game that covers the other side of the picture: “The Broadway Game”. As I described it in a comment to Ken, that game (which is roll and move, to some extent) consists for three acts and a finale. In Act I, you are moving around the inner track, investing in the available shows for either a full or a discount price. Once a show has a full set of 10 investors (Act II), you move to the out of town tryout track, where you have do to things like meet payrolls, etc. If you can’t cover that from the initial investment, you have to go to your investors for money, and if they don’t have the funds, they may have to sell shares, which might move you to have to find investors again. If you make it through out of town tryouts, you open on Broadway, but again have to handle costs which could result in the show closing and having to go out of town again. Once all the shows have opened, there is an end-game with an odd voting scheme — perhaps the weakest part of the game.
The problem with “The Broadway Game” is that it is hard to get it played with the Euro-gaming crowd. Some just don’t like any game that involves rolling and moving (they don’t see the investing strategy part of the game). Some think it takes too long (playing the full game took almost 3 hours the last time I played it). Based on this, I’m not sure I want to pick up “Be a Broadway Star“. It isn’t that expensive ($29.95—and most Euros are $40+) looks potentially interesting (although I’m not sure about the singing aspect), but I fear that I would have trouble finding people to play it for the same reason that “The Broadway Game” has trouble.