Save Valentine's Day ... by Avoiding These Games
Casual Game Insider|Winter 2021
Dating can be a difficult process. Traditionally, two people might chit-chat over drinks or dinner, then spend two hours in a darkened theater ignoring each other. This is not the most effective means of getting to know someone. A shared activity is a better way to share the real you with someone else.
By Bayard Catron

May I suggest a casual evening of board games?

Games reveal our passion, creativity, and how we think. During a game you can see someone unfiltered. You learn their sense of humor or find out if they are a team player or a good sport. Those who play together, stay together. I’m pleased to report the game group I’ve hosted on Meetup the past 14 years has inspired at least three marriages, with a fourth in the works. Bringing people together to share game experiences is proven to build strong friendships, which can grow into something deeper. A good partner in games could be a good partner in life.

It’s not all fun and games, however. There are pitfalls to playing with your significant other. My friend Michelle recounts a tale of her parents’ near-divorce over a game of Monopoly. Apparently, her father-to-be was winning big because he was sneakily stealing cash out of the bank! Michelle’s future mother grabbed the Monopoly set, threw it out on the front lawn, and vowed they’d never play again. Many years later, seven-year-old Michelle received a new Monopoly set from her grandmother and her mom quietly grumbled, “don’t let your dad be the banker.” It is a sobering thought that my friend might never have been born because of a game.

For a decade I organized a tongue-in-cheek Anti-Valentine’s party known as “Bayard’s Blackhearts.” It was a chance for singles to whoop it up each year in the sugary season around February 14th. We sought out the games no loving couple would venture near: the offensive, the satirical, the overly-personal. So, I feel I am uniquely qualified to be your guide into the world of games you should avoid if you value your relationship. Note that these games are not bad per se, just not recommended for couples. If you’re single — or just open-minded — feel free to think of this list of caveats as a shopping list.

Potential relationship-breaking games generally fall into three categories: Inappropriate, I’m Not Having Fun, and Vicious.

Inappropriate

Say what you will about Cards Against Humanity — and humanity seems to love or hate it with no middle ground — the R-rated take on Apples to Apples has been undeniably successful and spawned an ocean of clones. I have had some good experiences with this type of game, and some so-so ones. After hearing how much fun someone had playing Cards Against Humanity with her grandmother, I tried it out with my family, including my seventy-something-year-old mom. It fell flat, not because it was offensive but because my unflappable mom didn’t see what the big deal was. As the humor in the game comes from the cards and not the players, there is no subtlety, creativity, or double-entendre. Once you have seen all the cards, the game becomes less interesting. I prefer games where the players fill in the blanks, as there’s more opportunity to create memorable moments. Some enjoy the equal-opportunity button-pushing Cards Against Humanity provides, while others abhor it. Find out what camp your sweetie is in before breaking out a game with racial, political, and scatological overtones.

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