I just finished reading “Linchpin” by Seth Godin. There are so many amazing nuggets in this book. I could write a very long blog about all the ideas I gained from this book, but one in particular really has me thinking. I love playing board games. Growing up it was one of the few things I remember we did as a family. We did not go on vacations, to sporting events, movies, etc. So playing board games is what I remember as “family time.” Games were also how I became competitive. As the youngest, I often felt left out. As the baby of the family, I thought that if I learned each and every game, and could even win ones that maybe other members in my family would make sure I was included and got to play. I did not want them to have to hold my hand and help me along. I wanted to play and win on my own merits and skills.
I have never thought anything of the actual games we played or what they were teaching me. When I was younger we played Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Memory, and eventually moved on to Monopoly, Tripoly, Poker, Parcheesi, Trivial Pursuit, and Yahtzee. I have not played any of these in years. Most recently I have played Cranium, Tripoly, and my favorite is Taboo. I enjoyed the competition, the family time, and the laughter and fun. So when I read this section in “Linchpin” it made me rethink all the games of my past, and quite frankly how I would want to approach games with my family in the future.
“Author Steven Johnson hates the board game Candyland and all board games like it. I hate them even more than he does.
‘I realize that games of pure chance have a long history, but that doesn’t make them any less moronic,’ he writes. He’s how Candyland is played: You pick a card and do what it says. Repeat.
This is early training in agenda following. Indoctrination in obedience. We teach kids that the best way to win is to mindlessly pick cards, follow instructions, and wait for it all to turn out okay.
Sheesh. What a disaster.
My decree: If you own a copy, burn it. Replace it with Cosmic Encounters or chess or a big box filled with wooden blocks. Please don’t look at school or even board games the same way again. If they’re teaching your kids or future employees to be map readers and agenda followers, make them stop.” Page 193
To give you more context, this section in Godin’s book discusses not being a cog that just takes orders and follows direction, but to become someone who creates their own map and paves their own way. I wonder what games help kids to create their own map. I am still processing and thinking about what those games could be. Any ideas?