It’s Tuesday night – party night for many students at the College. The halls bump with bass from the blasting sound systems, girls cover their faces in layers of make-up and dress in their favorite pair of jeans, guys finally shave their 5 o’clock shadow. The energy is intense as students get ready to go out for a night of carousing and letting loose.
But Lauren O’Malley, sophomore music major, and her friends have opted to stay in this Tuesday night. Instead of partying, O’Malley and her friends are playing board games.
Board games are not just for children anymore. This cheap and easy way to pass the time is regaining popularity among adults and college-age students. The NPD Group, a marketing-information company, recently found that sales of board games rose 10 percent in 2003. Now the trend is making its way to the College.
Students say the socializing that accompanies playing these games is one of the major reasons they enjoy the activity. In an age where entertainment often consists of staring at a television or computer screen for hours at a time, board games actually require players to interact with each other.
O’Malley said seven of her friends participated in her game night in the dorms, while Nicole Meister a sophomore math/secondary education major, said she sometimes gathers a much larger crowd, so the night truly becomes a social event.
“Last semester we ended up recruiting a pretty big group of people because we would tell everyone how much fun we were having. By the end of the semester, we had almost too many people playing,” Meister said.
Also, students are finding that board games can be just as competitive as playing action-filled video games.
“I am a competitive person, as are people that I play with, so we get a kick out of [playing games] just as much as a game of football,” Meister said.
And on those nights when going out is simply not an option, many students on campus believe board games are a perfect way to pass time.
“Sometimes you either don’t wanna drink or go out really, or you can’t party because you have class or something else to do in the morning, so you stay in and have a PG night,” Meister said.
Sarah Rasmusson, professor of women’s and gender studies, teaches a class regarding popular culture. Rasmusson believes that 9/11 and the invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq are part of the reason of this renewed interest in playing board games.
“With the country being at war and the economy in the tank, people are looking for fun without having to get dressed up, go out to clubs, buy drinks and spend,” she said. “People are looking for less socially-pressurized settings to have more intimate, low-key, inexpensive fun.”
One of the most popular games on the market today is Cranium. Since its introduction in 1998, the game has received the Toy Industry Association’s “Game of the Year” award twice and sold over 3 million copies.
The game appeals to a wide audience because it incorporates aspects of Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, charades and different “word” games all into one game. Because of the variety, it is almost a guarantee that each player will like at least one part of the game.
“It’s got something for everyone,” Meister said.
Another new game that dovetails off of the recent popularity of retro shows like VH1’s “I love the 80’s” is “The 90s Game” by Intellinitiative Incorporated. The game tests players on their knowledge of the popular culture of the decade covering topics like Jenny McCarthy, the Seinfeld cast and Deon Sander’s debut rap album.
Although newer games like Cranium and The 90s Game are soaring in popularity among students, classic board games like Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit still have a market. Chuck Murphy, senior English major, plays Scrabble at least once a week. Murphy says for those looking for a way to challenge their minds, Scrabble is a perfect choice.
“I like to play it because it is not the easiest game,” he said. “It uses my vocabulary, and while it is a game of chance, and requires some skill, it takes an active and interested mind to spend the time to get good at it.”
Whether Cranium or Scrabble, board games are filling the shelves of students at the College. The new trend is giving students more options as to how they would like to spend their free time. As Murphy said, “Good times at college don’t have to be limited to debauchery.”