Shuffle the cards and roll the dice, it's game night!

Jul. 11, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Family game night in my house always brought my siblings and I closer together and encouraged a bit of friendly competition as we attempted to defeat our parents by getting the highest scores, collecting the most cards or passing 'GO' first.

When my younger brother and I are on the same team, everyone else has their work cut out for them. We make a great team, especially when it comes to strategy games like Sorry! or Sequence.

He and I playfully gang up on our parents by managing to move our pawns around the board the fastest while issuing an apologetic "Sorry!" or by building multiple, menacing rows with our poker chips on the Sequence board.

And it is never a true family game night until someone yells, "Bingo!" or "Yahtzee!" or "Uno!"

My family never really keeps score seriously during family game night, even though there are still winners and losers.

Oftentimes, we bend the rules of Monopoly or form our own version of Catch Phrase, just to make things even more interesting and raise the stakes higher.

My favorite board games when I was little included Candy Land, Ready! Set! Spaghetti! and Hi Ho! Cherry-O, even though I managed to lose all of the cherries. Somehow a few of those cherries, the mice from Mouse Trap and the marbles from Aggravation mysteriously ended up in the same game.

Mystery board games always intrigued me while I was growing up, such as Clue, 13 Dead End Drive and The Omega Virus. Colonel Mustard was always the guilty one.

Surprisingly, at a young age I became fond of skill games like Scrabble, Pictionary and Boggle, but usually lost my attention span during Monopoly, Risk and Domino Rally.

And so, the thimble and wheelbarrow joined a line of dominos occupying territories on the Risk board.

A few games made me incredibly anxious while playing them, and I imagine today they might have the same effect on me. They were games like Operation, Perfection and Shark Attack! — basically anything requiring me to have a steady hand or race against the clock.

My siblings and I often altered the circumstances, counting the removal of the wishbone even though the buzzer sounded, twisting back the timer before it popped all of the shapes out of their slots and moving our fish ahead before the motorized shark crept up to devour them.

As I became older, I learned how to play card games such as Uno, SKIP-BO and Phase 10.

My family is fond of card games because they guarantee plenty of laughs and friendly banter. Like cards, games involving teams or that can be played with a large group provide more interaction and allow people to be more competitive.

These days I enjoy group games like Password, Cranium and Apples to Apples. I also will not turn down a good game of trivia.

Have you ever realized just how much information our brains can store, whether important numbers, random dates or downright useless trivia?

Some people I know can recall the most mundane facts almost instantly. They would make successful contestants on Jeopardy and excel at the local restaurant's trivia night.

I am good at trivia games, but it is difficult for me to recall such a myriad of information so quickly. It is really not just what you know, but how fast you can recall it. That is why I never liked timed tests, like the SATs.

I prefer to gather my thoughts and process my inklings before blurting out any answers.

The trivia tidbits my brain tends to store are those that are unique, bizarre and great conversation starters.

Like did you know that oak trees are most commonly struck by lightening? Or that polar bears are actually black with translucent hair? Or one in 20 people has an extra rib?

Whether or not these nuggets of information will help me during the next game night or as I watch Jeopardy, I am still uncertain.

So who wants to have a board game and trivia night?