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Game on

Turn off the TV and turn up the fun with games everyone can enjoy.

Louis Fowler January 30th, 2013

When you’re stuck inside, the quickest path to the winter doldrums is boredom.

The Little Shoppe of Games
Credit: Mark Hancock

There’s nothing on TV. You can only refresh so many times. Even your significant other has ceased being interesting.

That might be a great time to pull out those board games from the back of the closet.

Bored? Grab a board!
Everyone has a go-to game: Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble.

Sure, they’re fun, but they can also be limiting in scope and a bit too familiar.

While role-playing games and tabletop games in the past were exclusive to nerd culture, more and more “normal” people are branching out and playing these boundless games of strategy and conquest.

Samuel Balaban, owner of The Little Shoppe of Games, 5109 N. Shartel, said he is seeing more nonregulars than usual stopping by.

“I love being able to sit across from a person and not only learn what you’re doing but figure out what strategy they’re doing and try to find a way to counteract it or beat theirs,” he said. “It’s always a lot of fun to see people come together and lose themselves in these games.”

Some of Little Shoppe’s biggest sellers include Small World, Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan and Shadows Over Camelot. Balaban’s personal favorite stuck-inside game is Tales of the Arabian Nights.

“If you’ve ever read choose-your-own-adventure books, you’ll be a big fan of this one,” he said. “You’re actually building the story of your character as it goes on. It’s one of the great ones to sit back and play on a wintery day.”

It’s this sense of fellowship from playing board games that Balaban said video games can never replace.

“I like board games more than video games because it’s so much more personal,” he said. “You’re sitting across from a person and you’re actually talking to them. You’re joking with them and even having conversations that spawn from the game. You don’t get that feeling from video games.”

Gettin’ homey
While board games might be making a resurgence with adults, so are homemade party games that don’t require excessive paraphernalia.

And we’re not talking those staid, old contests of charades or hangman here; we’ve gone beyond that. People are making up their own trivia games, card games and board games.

A currently popular one is the Leonard Maltin Game, based on the pithy reviews of the famed film critic. The game itself was created by comedian Doug Benson on his Doug Loves Movies podcast.

Using Maltin’s Movie Guide book or iPhone app, players try to identify a film based on a vague synopsis. Local software developer Taylor Wilken regularly plays it with friends.

“It’s cool because you can tailor a game like this to your audience,” he said. “We’ve played it with several groups of people, and the movies we pick will always be different depending on who we’re playing with. It’s a game that everyone can play.”

Inclusion is the name of the game.

Many game enthusiasts find themselves slightly tweaking longtime favorites to get more of a sense of originality and ownership.

“We used to play Risk, and we had what my dad used to call ‘Vietnam rules,’ because we only had one dice and these really simplified rules,” Wilken said. “Every game became a 30-minute game, as opposed to a fourhour game. You take existing games and bend the rules a bit. People are always going to want to have fun their own way.”

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