Board and card games have long been a staple of many family nights, but in this new digital age the games themselves are as varied as how you can play them.
Take the classic Monopoly for example. Sure, you can run down to a local Target and you are bound to find a classic board. Or, if you are more of a collector, you can search online for a favorite version (personally, I’m partial to the Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace board). But suppose your family or friends don’t share a schedule with you. Or that everyone is grown and living in opposite corners of the world. It should be no surprise that that is also remedied. iOS users can download two different versions of the classic game, and even Xbox and Playstation users (sorry Nintendo, no Wii U copy for you!) can all play even online. But does playing online make any of these classic games better or easier?
I say yes and no. Running with our Monopoly example, on the Xbox and Playstation platforms you can make your own board and share it with others around the world. You can also play with up to eight people, both offline and online. Not only that, but one of my greatest frustrations with real board games is made impossible by a digital copy. I can’t lose any pieces. Or, as was the usual case, I won’t lose the piece when I want to play, only to find it some night with my bare feet as I’m walking around in the dark. It happens to everyone. But, not everything is perfect.
If you choose to play online in one of these versions, and let’s say Uncle Larry tends to be a sore loser. Well, Uncle Larry isn’t good at managing properties so he bankrupts first. While everyone else may be gearing up for a long haul to beat the real estate agent in the family, Uncle Larry quits the game and goes on with his day. But when he quits, everyone else gets disconnected and the game ends early. Why is that? In this scenario, Uncle Larry was what is called a host, the person running the game, while everyone else is connected to him. To think of it in another way, if a local TV station is having technical difficulties, no one else can watch them. It’s the same concept at work here. But, since Uncle Larry quit the game, no one else can finish the game that was already started. But of the most recent digital version of Monopoly, this is the only issue I have come upon so far.
Monopoly isn’t the only one that has been digitized by far. You can also find digital versions of games like UNO, Mouse Trap, Risk, Settlers of Catan, Carcassone, LIFE, and Magic the Gathering to name a few.
So are digital board and card games a good buy? I’ll say that if it ends up cheaper than the tangible board game, and you don’t mind playing against AI (artificial intelligence) if you can’t get people to play with you, then yes, absolutely. There’s always something to be said for playing Monopoly with a new rule that puts your little brother in jail for longer though.