by Michael Salston
At our recent Orion Day event, the day also featured a showcase of student run and promoted clubs, with students signing up to attend clubs of their choice during the lunch period throughout the year. These clubs are an important part of our Orion program, as they promote community building, social skills, and developing student interests. It was my pleasure to be selected as a faculty advisor for our Fun and Games club this year, which has led me to reflect on the importance of games in our community, our culture, and our lives.
Our club will feature board and card games to be played by students in small groups. Far from being simple diversions, these games bring up connections to our past, childhood, friends, and family. For me, it was memories of playing Chutes and Ladders growing up, or challenging my Mom at Scrabble or my childhood friends playing Uno. Bonding over these games is a shared experience, away from the distractions of our smartphones and screens, and teaching these games to a newcomer is a way of sharing this part of our culture.
Card games and board games help us learn how to strategize, how to operate under an agreed set of rules, how to cooperate and compete appropriately, and how to provide entertainment for ourselves. Socially, they are a great way to start and cement relationships. In my travels, I have struck up friendships almost instantly with people over a deck of cards or a travel Backgammon set. Barriers of culture, language, and different outlooks can almost magically crumble away when people sit down together to play a game. I look forward to practicing these valuable skills with our students and having fun while doing it.
For your next get-together or long trip, I leave you with my personal recommendations of some of my favorite games (the full rules of these games should be easy to find online for anyone interested) Othello (or Reversi) is a strategy game for 2 players played on an 8×8 board with black and white tiles. Players try to flip each other’s pieces by surrounding them. The rules of the game are very simple to learn, but there is a lot of deep and complex strategy, and is fun for players of all levels. Cassino is a card game for 2-4 players which involves trying to capture cards from a central pile by matching values or adding up cards to a specific value. Players can build up larger piles of cards, but risk other players stealing from them. Chinese checkers is a familiar favorite for 2-6 players where players attempt to move across a board by jumping marbles over each other. For an interesting variation, try Super Chinese Checkers, which allows for longer jumps (See the full explanation on Wikipedia’s Chinese Checkers page).