If your family was like many, during Hurricane Ike’s powerless days and nights, you brought out some board games. In my house, we played Scrabble, Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit. I hadn’t played a game for years until the computer, the TV, the radio and all things electric went dark for 13 days. We had fun together, as did many Houstonians. Hasbro Toys, which just released their Christmas 2008 game lineup, recently conducted a survey which found that nearly half (48 percent) of Americans believe that a family game night is the most enjoyable form of family bonding, and that nearly two in three people (59 percent) play board games with their family or significant others more than anybody else. Several sources trace board games back to 3500 B.C. Human beings have been spinning, twisting, landing and rolling their way through many a relaxing hour for centuries. Each year, revisions and anniversary editions of the most popular games debut along with thousands of copies of the good, old classics. This year, several much-beloved classics have received makeovers. Clue has a new Harry Potter edition where Hogwarts rule with spells and magic. The traditional version now takes place at an upscale mansion with new rooms such as a spa and a theater; a few new weapons are also included. Hasbro found that Colonel Mustard and Ms. Scarlet tied (19 percent ) for the country’s favorite Clue character. Twister, patented in 1966, was originally named “Pretzel.” It sold 3 million games its first year and its popularity has not waned in 40-plus years. Twister Hopscotch is new, targeted at children 4 to 6 and combines Twister with hopscotch. Trivial Pursuit turns 25 this year – hard to believe! The 25th edition offers questions at all skill levels and there are several varieties of the original game created in 1979: Digital Choice, Greatest Hits, ‘80s, Kids, and Family. Nearly half (45 percent) of American gamers ages 18-29 have used board games as an icebreaker at a party. Jenga, the classic wooden block game, now comes in the Jenga: Party version where players answer a question written on the blocks. Partini has six games to choose from: players compete in musical humming challenges, molding clay objects, firing balls into a cup and more! Cranium (seven versions), Don’t Forget the Lyrics, Yahtzee: Free For All, Risk and Hollywood Dominos will keep the crowds happy after they push away from the Thanksgiving turkey. Almost four in five (78 percent) Americans find that board games make great gifts, with Christmas being the most popular time (75 percent) to give games, followed closely by birthdays (62 percent). Cool tweens will love Hannah Montana versions of Mall Madness and Twister. The hugely popular High School Musical 3: Senior Year is captured in a Mystery Date version. In the classic edition, created in 1965, a large white door located in the center of the board had five ‘dates’ waiting inside. Depending on how the doorknob was rotated, a different guy appeared when the door was opened. In 2008, players collect clothing and accessories to go on dates with four “mystery dates.” Kids still play the most board games and Hasbro’s survey found that more than three out of four adults (76 percent) would purposely let a child beat them at a board game. Newly revised this year is Operation. The 40-year-old game has been “reinvented” but players still try to skillfully remove the ‘Adam’s Apple, the ‘Water on the Knee or the ‘Brain Freeze,’ a piece added in 2004 after a national contest, from Cavity Sam. For the younger set, there is also Gator Golf, Bulls-Eye Baseball and Littlest Pet Shop: Hideaway Haven. If you prefer games of luck or strategy, there is something for everyone on the game board shelf. Wikipedia has a definitive list of board games with links to each. But instead of doing research on the computer, grab a game and your family, pop some popcorn and just enjoy!

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