Risk, Anyone?

Date June 26, 2007

Benton’s passion for chess has waned. Temporarily, I’m sure. But, he used some of his remaining birthday money earlier this week to buy Risk. Remember Risk? It seems like one of those games, along with Monopoly and Dungeons and Dragons, that my generation (and, perhaps a half a generation in either direction) grew up with. In our teen years, you either got hooked on one of these or you didn’t. I…didn’t. I had a D&D game, but I don’t think I ever played it for more than an hour at a time. That might have been the result of growing up in a rural area where getting a critical mass of like-minded teenagers together took a good chunk of effort. Or, it might have been that I lacked the imagination to really get into it.

My cousin, Steve Wilson, was a big D&D player. But, he’s always been on another, higher plane intellect-wise — Plan II at The University of Texas, wrote poetry in high school, was an early adopter of the personal computer, and now teaches math and supports his school’s computer lab in Illinois. As for Monopoly and Risk, I just never really had the patience to play a whole game. They seemed to take sooooooo long.

Benton hasn’t gotten hooked on Monopoly. Yet. But, good friends of ours, the Herberts, have kids that are hooked. I wouldn’t be surprised if Benton winds up getting into the game at some point before we leave (although their son, who is just a bit older than Benton, is playing All-Stars baseball this summer, which is 3 hours of practice every weeknight and a tournament every weekend, so that’s keeping them pretty busy).

Benton discovered Risk over the summer when we were in Colorado. Dave Roth is the husband of Julie’s godparents’ daughter, Brittany. One more time: the husband of Julie’s godparents’ daughter, Brittany. Still struggling? The picture of the couple where the lady is on the cell phone a couple of posts back — he’s their son-in-law. We stayed with Brittany and Dave on the front and back end of our summer vacation last year. It turns out that Dave and his friends were hugely into Risk in college. Somehow, the game board came out during our visit, and Benton learned to play. As Benton is prone to do, he just filed away that knowledge for eleven months and then announced he’d like to buy the game. It says that it’s for ages 10 and up. But, he’s going ahead and whupping up on Julie to make up for the fact that he’s not, technically, old enough to play yet.

Of course, that means we’ve had a Risk game board migrating back and forth between our dining room table and the activity table for several days as they continue the game. Julie has visions of marathon Risk games amongst Benton (and maybe Carson) and their friends down in the basement of our house in Ohio. We’ll see if that comes to pass. Personally, I feel no compulsion at all to join into the game. It still seems long and relatively boring. But I am looking forward to the prospect of being in a house that’s big enough that the Risk board won’t necessarily have to be mobile in order to complete a game!

While I’m on the subject of board games…

I read an article in The New Yorker last week (not last week’s issue, mind you — I’m wayyyyyyy behind on that front) about the game Life. Did you know that The Checkered Game of Life was what really launched Milton Bradley? Heck, did you know that Milton Bradley was a person and not a company founded by a Mr. Milton and a Mr. Bradley? Milton Bradley invented it back in 1860, although, apparently, it wasn’t an entirely original invention, in that similar concepts/ideas had been the basis of other games that existed long before then. The modern game is closest to the 100th anniversary edition that the Milton Bradley Company rolled out in 1960. But, it’s continued to get tweaked and tuned (and had its currency adjusted for inflation) almost continuously. I’ve got some vague memories of playing Life growing up, but apparently didn’t really get hooked on that, either!

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