Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Gaming in a hospital room - revisited

A little over four years ago, I wrote a couple of posts on what works and what doesn't when playing games in a hospital room or waiting room.  We find ourselves in a similar situation this week, although the medical circumstances are decidedly more serious.  All the same, it is helpful to revisit the principles that make for a good pasttime under such trying circumstances - portability, compactness, simplicity, humor, interruptibility, and brevity.  What follows is an amalgamation of highlights from the two posts.

September 14, 2011

What worked:  Pass the Pigs (designer David Moffatt [or Moffitt] of the original title Pig Mania, now available as Pass the Pigs from publisher Winning Moves) is great for cheering up a hospital patient for a number of reasons.  It is terrifically portable.  It requires very little space on which to play and no set-up to speak of.  It requires little mental and physical effort to take one's turn.  It's good for a laugh.  The game can be interrupted easily without consequence.  It finishes quickly.  It lends itself easily to a re-match if "the pigs are against you" in the first round.

We also brought Uno, which, if we'd played it, I think might have worked almost as well.  There's a little more difficulty in sitting up in bed and holding a hand of cards, depending on the circumstances (like an IV or an awkward bed configuration).  But again, Uno doesn't require a lot of thought or effort, it's good for a laugh, and it interrupts easily.

January 28, 2012

I had the occasion this week to while away time in similar circumstances, and we settled on Monopoly Express (designers Garrett Donner and Michael S. Steer, publisher Hasbro) as a not-bad alternative when conditions don't allow the kind of space that board and card games typically require.

Monopoly Express
photo Hasbro 2007
First published in 1991 as Don't Go to Jail, the dice game Monopoly Express was re-released in 2007 in a round plastic container that is rather difficult to open.  This inconvenience is a blessing in disguise, because it allows ME to be thrown into a bag and taken anywhere without concern for lost pieces.  The container also serves as a dice tray, and it was this feature that made the game work so well in a surgery waiting room.  My wife and I were able to play this game on the seat between us without worrying about pieces rolling onto the floor.

Monopoly Express board
photo posted to boardgamegeek.com
by Chris Blakely
The "board" is a round plastic disc with recesses for placing dice to score points.  The game itself is a "push your luck" game along the lines of Pass the Pigs, $GREED, or Can't Stop.  Three dice have only "Go to Jail" policemen, "Go" green arrows, or blank faces.  Seven other dice have colors and denominations on each face that correspond roughly to familiar properties on a Monopoly board.  A player's turn consists of rolling the dice, putting any policemen on the board, and then also placing on the board a combination of colored denominations that offers the best prospects for scoring points.  Completed sets are worth more points than the sum of individual dice and also offer the opportunity to add the "house/hotel" die to the mix on the next roll; houses and hotels add greatly to the score.  A player can re-roll remaining dice or stop at any time and score the results of the turn, but if a roll turns up the third policeman, then the player scores nothing that turn (like a "pig out" in PtP).

The value in this game isn't the twist on the push-your-luck format, and certainly not its very small addition to the deluge of Monopoly titles in the world.  Its real value is its extreme portability and quick play.  This week it got more action than PtP because it doesn't even need a flat playing surface.  At a time when we all needed a little cheering up, ME helped pass the time in a pleasant, undemanding way.

This week

We now have a second game in the "Express" series - Clue Express - which I'll be bringing back to the hospital, assuming we have the inclination to play a game under the circumstances.

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