The Victorians are all too often written off as being an uptight bunch of moral nutjobs who lived in an age to which we must never, ever return. That is basically true. There is a whole lot of stuff that was common in the years between 1837 and 1901 that we would be better off without, forever. A whole lot of stuff. But there is one thing that should make a bold return, and that is “Victorian Parlor Games.”
Even though most of the population of the Victorian Age was impoverished and working eighteen hours a day, the middle class formed and luxurious free time started to become available to people outside of the wealthy idle elite. Back then, there weren’t televisions, video games, and apps to waste all of your time with of course, so they had to devise games to play in gentle social settings. They were still joyless and genteel, so they couldn’t just gather and get blasted on booze or the devil weed. Let’s just say that they did their best.
You can do your own research (I love it when you do your own research), or I guess you can just follow this single link I am willing to supply for you, to see for yourself just how they used to do it. Most games seemed to center around getting light-headed or not-laughing. Sometimes those two things would be combined, if they were feeling really full of jolly-beans!
Some day, you may find yourself without electricity. It seems to be a more and more common scenario, as natural disasters are ramping up in devastation, and our infrastructure steadily disintegrates. In some places, even a moderate rainfall could leave you without television channels and with an internet that is so slow that it is worse than not having a connection at all! So, I advise you to print out this article for reference on such times, because you won’t want to use your precious battery all up.
You find yourself in a maze filled with edible orbs, and you are not alone. Monsters lurk in this place, is it a dungeon? Is it a castle? Is it a level of HELL? You must run from these evil things — oh! You catch a glimpse! They’re g-g-ghosts! Vengeful, doomed spirits chase you, wishing to devour your soul. So you run. You dodge them by darting into unused corridors! Oh god but there are more! Mindlessly being forced to eat orbs as you run in terror, you stumble upon one that causes the ghosts to flee from YOU. Ha ha! Who’s chasing whom NOW, you fiends?! You gobble them up for a few seconds, not nearly enough seconds. Then their fear is over. You didn’t kill any of them. You do not kill ghosts. The chase is on again, and again, and again until you somehow eat all of the orbs. Then it all starts over.
No, I didn’t write out an entry from my Terrible Dreams journal. I just described the basic plot of Pac Man, an early video game from the otherwise glorious 1980s. It was released on this date in 1980, and I was never the same again.
Habbo Hotel has done it. It has trapped our favorite Sneerists in its greasy claws. They were able to sneak some letters to the mail room to update us on their dire situation. Will the obsession ever end? Probably. Everything ends eventually. But until then, there will be….
I intend to begin a series of games articles today, with or without the help of my trusty sidekick, cchris, that take a look at the games out there in the world that are meant for girls to play. Even though I write tons of gaming articles (even though these are generally hardly even to be considered games), I am really not a “gamer.” I am dimly aware that there is a whole Girl Gamer Culture out there, and that there are politics and strife and some kind of women’s liberation movement screaming for equal rights and respect while playing various games, because not only are games a serious part of life, but opposition to women doing anything or having any fun is everywhere at all times. But I am not here to fumble around with explanations about topics I know next to nothing about. WAIT YES I AM. But the topic I choose to fumble with is games, not with complicated social issues.
Hasbro has a bunch of little games on its website, but I haven’t bothered to explore them. Really, I wouldn’t even know that Baby Alive exists at all except that one day cchris linked me to this one, thinking that it would stir up my maternity instincts or foul-mouthed rage – one or the other. He has his own reasons for experimenting on his friends and they are not reasons I bother to question. The only thing I am left questioning, actually, is why I click any link he offers me.
But I do, and I did, and I was immediately disgusted by what I saw before me. Truth be told, as soon as I realized what I was seeing and hearing, I complained to him and threatened to turn it off. Then of course, I proceeded to play the game.
This VR thing is finally taking off but that doesn’t mean I’m going to be easy to please, now or ever. It’s probably going to be a few years before the technology is as realistic as I want it to be, but I already want it to be the best, now. Right now! I would hold out for a holodeck, since current VR headsets look cool and all, but they are hard to reconcile with all of my Star Trek assumptions about the real world. But I’m not going to hold out because quick make these games.
Forget horror games and porn. Forget the immersive action gaming experience some people have been waiting for. Forget the interaction with people you know or don’t know, anyone at all. Here’s what I really want from virtual reality.
The desire to communicate with the spirit world is not a new fad in our society. Indeed, since the very first caveman crawled from the sea, humans have been trying to find that there is more to life than running away from carnosaurs, angry herbasaurs, larger cavemen, and various stampedes. How depressed would they have been if they couldn’t believe in a spirit world, intangible to them, and yearning to share spirit secrets with the living? Cavemen begat shamans who could commune with these spirits by drinking poisonous plant mixtures and chanting a lot. Through the persuasions of these “spirits” or DEMONS, PERHAPS?!, societies were built, machines were invented, and scientific reasoning began to rule us all. I believe this is what they SHOULD teach in Sunday Schools across America, if they don’t already.
You know what ELSE is taught in Sunday Schools? That Ouija Boards are BAD. MAYBE. Do they teach that? I have actually never been to a Sunday School.
But what IS a Ouija Board? It is a game, of course, made by Parker Brothers. You basically have a board with letters, numbers, and some words on it, a planchette (which is a pointing device), and two or more friends trying to put their fingers on the planchette and decide what it will spell out, while pretending that it is a spirit force doing the directing. The word “Ouija” is owned by Parker Brothers and is entirely made up. It is French and German for “yes.” A yesboard. The idea and use of “talking boards,” as they are commonly known, has been going on for a thousand years or more, but “ouija” has become like “kleenex” or “coke” these days, and I am sure the Parker Bros are happy about this, as any company would be.
Gambling, huh? It’s confusing and there are so many games. But I am here to help. As the descendant of the author of Playboy’s Book of Games, I feel that I have a special connection to this topic and therefore will be an expert without ever necessarily having played the games.
Because of that special connection I have created this handy guide for you!