To spend months in isolation due to COVID-19, a relaxing hobby that was once considered old-fashioned is now seeing new life. Take a minute to scroll through social media and you will see pictures of embroidery projects or puzzles complete with a proud cry: “So I did something!”
The past year has sparked a desire to have fun; and when locked, many turn to board games. They pull up vintage games of their youth or learn new games to share with family and friends.
What’s Old Is New Again
Crystal Custer-Dull and her brothers, Ken and Kevin Custer, have been avid board game players, especially when they were children. Reflecting on their time playing together, the three talk about long summer days where the boys play baseball in the mornings at the Oakhurst Playground on Harold Avenue in the West End where they live, then come home in the afternoon with their friends. to play games. their front porch, cooling off from the hot summer sun.
When they are not playing with friends, family members continue to play, picking from the various games that are in their house.
“We always have games for Christmas,” said Crystal, a seventh grade teacher in the Greater Johnstown School District.
“My mother has a stand in the attic. They are easy to reach and there are lots of stacks. “
While Crystal is the youngest of the three, her fond memories of the moving pieces across the game board make for lasting memories.
“We play everything – Life, Monopoly, Uno. The value of finding out and spending money actually teaches you to think critically and use math skills. “
Crystal’s brother Kevin, a highway construction inspector, remembers the days fondly and says the pandemic is an opportunity to be with neighbors while remaining socially distanced.
“This is a great opportunity to be with your neighbors in a safe way,” said Kevin. “Bonding is a great way to build community in the midst of trying to figure out how to win the game.”
Ken, the oldest of the three, remembers his favorite game, Pro Draft, which he received as a Christmas present in the early 1970s when he was 9. He says it taught him a lesson for life.
The game, which can be compared to Fantasy Football leagues, provides players with a set of official football trading cards with statistical information. Then, each player collects and trades the cards, building a team during the game.
“The game came out just as the (Pittsburgh) Steelers won,” said Ken, a pastor at the Grace United Methodist Cole Center in Washington County.
He said the game came with 50 cards, but the great thing about it was that he could add playing cards himself.
“I love being able to go to the store and use my spare money to get a pack of cards and find out if I have Steelers and see if I have Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, Jack Ham. That would be a great thing. “
Ken and Kevin were big sportsmen at the time. They still are. And they like to collect playing cards. “As a collector, this game is a huge bonus,” said Ken.
“It doesn’t matter if, in real life, players are the hall of famer, in this game, they might not be that good,” said Ken, who still lives in Oakhurst. “The game has separate rules and I appreciate the way in which you can trade. You are like your own general manager. “
Kevin, who is both passionate about the sport, admits another reason for playing Pro Draft: “I’m a little younger than Ken. I like only with my brother. ”
Connecting to the Past
People play games for many reasons. Either to spend time or competitive style. Some say they like the challenge of figuring out the rules and others like the fantasy built around a specific board game.
For Tammi Yeckley of Armagh, it is a relationship with her two grandmothers, who are now deceased. Playing games forging unforgettable relationships that run deep.
She links the game of Anger with her maternal grandmother, Florence Sharvaugh; and Monopoly for paternal grandmother, Nelda Berkey.
“I think I’m pushing my bean gram by playing Monopoly, because I want to play it all the time,” said Tammi, who works at Laurel Medical in Richland Township. “Grandma Berkey also likes Racko and Skip-po and Uno.”
Tammi said she was an only child until she was older, so only she and Grandma Berkey played while her grandfather worked. He remembers playing games, especially Monopoly at night between his favorite television shows The Love Boat and Fantasy Island.
“With my other grandmother, we will play Aggravation,” said Tammi, referring to her grandmother, Sharvaugh. “When he died, my uncle, his brother, was still at home, and he made sure I got his game,” said Tammi with a laugh. Looking back, he’s sure Grandma Sharvaugh keeps him busy playing board games so he doesn’t get into the candy jar.
“He always ate Hershey Kisses on the buffet in his dining room.”
Tammi says that having memories of her two grandmothers is a blessing, and it’s heartwarming to have a game they actually played together.
He encouraged people not to waste time like that.
“Appreciate what you have, because they will not be around forever,” he said.
Play with friends
Board games have come a long way since The Game of Life first appeared in 1860. Milton Bradley’s popular game imitates a person’s life, through college, marriage, even having children. Now, the game simulates a future situation, enters a fantasy world, or mimics a model of building a kingdom.
Nathan Madison, a 24-year-old multi-media specialist with Visit Johns-town, has often plunged into these often extraordinary and immersive multiplayer games that make his friends think beyond the present and vice versa, thinking “what if. “
“I’ve always been interested in board games,” says Nathan, from Summerhill, “but it’s only been about a year and a half since I put them together on Amazon.” The more complex the rules, the better, he said.
Nathan first started paying attention to large-scale Euro-style games, or games with an intellectual component (as opposed to chancy games) on YouTube, an online video sharing platform. There, he sees an interesting looking zombie-themed board game and he scrolls to see what it is all about. From then on, he started buying games that caught his eye. As for any games he owns, he keeps logs on the Internet site, BoardGameGeek.
“I try to play everything I buy,” he said. “I keep updating my collection there.” He uses his friends to test his purchases and explore which games are fun and which are not.
“Once a week, we have game nights, but that’s tough with a pandemic,” he said. “We have a core group that people screen in and out every week and if there is a social situation where I can bring a board game, I will.” Nathan said he had a rotating system where he and his friends chose games to play each week.
“The match itself is pretty good. Board games look better than ever and come from like your standard Monopoly to some of the games I have, they look great and play great, but the main thing is the social aspect. “Nathan said that the interaction between players and friends is what he is looking forward to.
“Anytime you do something that affects everyone at the table and they all go crazy, it’s a great feeling.”
Nathan recommends some games for newcomers or even those who have played before and are looking for something different to add to their gaming repertoire.
Catan, the resource management game, involves player interaction with trading and gaining resources. Nathan said it wasn’t too complicated, but difficult enough if players wanted to move to Terraforming Mars.
“I found the games I like are games in the near future,” said Nathan. “Mars terraforming is about life that has moved beyond Earth and we are moving to Mars, and these big companies are struggling to reap the rewards – to change Mars.”
The whole end game is to make the planet habitable with very limited player interaction.
“It’s like a brain teaser,” he said. “You have to manage your money, resources, and cards.”
Next on Nathan’s list is Agricola, another resource management game in which a player becomes a subsistence farmer in Germany, managing crops. Agricola is a Worker Placement Game, which means the player places a piece of play on the cards and accepts whatever is listed on it. The game is also categorized as a Euro Game, where there is little player interaction during play.
Root was a game that Nathan liked because of its strange nature.
“I bought Root because I really like the art and the game can look really good and get really great,” he said. The game features a different faction of forest creatures trying to reclaim the forest after the cats take over. “It’s unique because each player gets different unique abilities.”
Nathan also collects old games like Belter, which he found in an antique shop.
“It looks really old and old and there is something about it that I can’t leave it there,” Nathan said of the game.
“I brought it to the table for my friends to try. I’ll compare it to doing taxes. “He said it was very interesting to compare Belter to current games and how far they have come. Belters are all pen and paper, while the newer ones have all the bells and whistles.
Nathan encouraged people to go ahead and try some games. Although he and his friends also love video games, one of the things that prompted him to try board games was that he had a habit of playing games.
“I think the best way to do that is to throw a board game at the table and teach the rules and run them,” he said. “Most people will respond in a way like, ‘oh, wow, I want to keep playing this,’ and the price is quite affordable too.”