11 December 2011

Games need not be board-ing

What can I say? With a full-time job (that I am extremely grateful for), publications to write, and other commitments, it has been darn near impossible to find time to blog. I barely find time to Tweet relevant archaeology stories, but I am finding that venue at least a bit easier than the full micro-narratives one comes to expect from blogs. Life is all about prioritizing our time and well, the blog, I'm afraid, is coming up very short. Perhaps strict 'tweets' if the way I ought to proceed?

While I meditate on that, here was a fun little story in Discovery News last week on ancient board games. Readers of this blog (when it was active, that is) will remember I have a keen interest in ancient games. One of these days I might even have some free time to explore the subject further. For example, one book that has been on my radar for quite some time now is Ancient Board Games in Perspective. Papers from the 1990 Britsh Museum colloquium edited by Irving Finkel [2007]. Any other recommendations out there?

Ancient Egyptian game of Senet (from Discovery News)
I only have three things to say about the Discover article. First, it focuses solely on board games as a past time of the elite, but of course we know every segment of the population in the ancient world was playing games of some sort like "roll the animal knuckle bones" (early form of dice) that didn't require a board. Second, while the article goes beyond the ancient world to give examples of board game development in the United States and elsewhere, it fails to mention the role of the Muslim world which, during the Medieval period in the Middle East, transmitted board games like chess invented in India or Afghanistan to Europe where it became a fixture of society.

Third, I found it mildly amusing (and my husband might too) to see that a "relevant" video embedded within the article discusses the question of "why are video games addictive?" This is a comparison of apples to oranges of course. Do you know anyone who is addicted to Monopoly or Scrabble the way people can get addicted to Call of Duty or (recently) Skyrim? Video games are an immersive environment the way board games can never be, though aspects of strategy, heightened anxiety, and pleasure in winning are present in both mediums.
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