It’s often said that the ‘60s and ‘70s were the glory days of board gaming. But is this really true? Some people get nostalgic about board gaming experiences from their childhoods, recalling fond memories of hours whiled away playing endless games with their best pals. But was it a glorious board game-heyday or are our rose coloured glasses blurring the truth?
The Easy Bake Oven
While there were some spectacular board game highs, there were also some spectacular lows – one of which was the Easy Bake Oven, unleashed on girls in 1963 when a women’s place was still considered to be in the home – usually in the kitchen of course. It was pre-feminism, when the concept of a female astronaut or Prime Minister was nothing more than a “pie in the sky” dream (cooked in an Easy Bake Oven no doubt).
Games of the ‘60s and ‘70s
Despite a few duds, overall it was a pretty fertile and prosperous time for board gaming. Some games became classics while others were eventually overshadowed by changes in fashion or advancements in technology. Others patiently await resurrection by visionary marketers of the future.
Ten games from the ‘60s and ‘70s that stick in my mind – for better or worse!
Scrabble – The game that launched a thousand dictionaries and inspired a generation of literary nerds (known in the ‘60s as egg-heads) is still a sure-fire winner having sold over 100 million copies in more than 29 languages.
Careers – Recently re-released, Careers has also stood the test of time and is more relevant than ever, as we now change careers an average of three times during our lifetimes. Players can balance the amount of wealth, fame and happiness they wish to acquire and align this with their career goals.
Monopoly – A masterpiece of Capitalist propaganda or a gaming masterpiece?
Hungry Hungry Hippos – I never realised until recently that Hippos are quite aggressive in the wild and actually kill lots of people each year. Gives the game a whole new dimension doesn’t it?
Kerplunk – An upmarket version of pick-up-sticks, the marbles seemed an unnecessary addition to me as I was used to playing low-tech pick-up-sticks with my siblings. But most kids love the winning combination of suspense and noise!
Mousetrap –Offering a glorious array of colourful plastic contraptions designed to catch not just your eye, but ultimately a mouse, Mousetrap has an excruciatingly slow build-up, but the finale makes it all worth it. Or so they say. It’s not for creative types as each game is quite similar to the one before.
Operation – Now here’s a game you can get stuck into! I hear operating on Funny Bone Frank has led some kids to pursue a medical career. Apparently some doctors love surgery so much, they’d rather do surgery than do anything else. Maybe to them – every patient is Funny Bone Frank!
Mastermind – From the slightly creepy box art to the tiny board and plastic pegs, this is a compact but complex game that can be best summarised as Battleship for grown-ups. The basic premise is based on breaking your opponent’s code (a sequence of coloured pegs) in a limited number of steps.
Bermuda Triangle – Like a lot of games from this era, the TV commercial and box art promised a lot but delivered a somewhat mediocre experience. Still, the magnetic cloud was pretty cool and I still have very vivid memories of the board design and bits.
Ghost Train – Like Mouse Trap, this game is heavily dependent on gimmicky toy pieces that were invariably lost over time. It’s based on the amusement park ride of the same name and promises thrills and spills, but the most exciting thing about it was the buzz of peeling off the shrink-wrap plastic packaging.
What’s your most memorable game from the ‘60s and ‘70s? Why not enter our weekly giveaway based on this story…