Art, education, interaction, fantasy, nostalgia, trivia—whatever the urge, there's a game to satisfy it. We're cocooning more than ever before, and games that bring people together are doing big business.
Why wait for the next national survey? Thepollgame, created by Darrell Jochum and partner Jeff Snow of Pollgame LLC in Seattle, lets you and up to seven adult friends poll each other, often with unexpected—and not uncommonly hilarious—results. The game begins with the posing of an intriguing poll question, chosen from the game's 660 "yes" or "no" cards. The object is to guess how the other players will answer the question. Each accurate prediction moves the player ahead one space. The first player to advance, via winding, question-mark-shaped paths, to the center of the board wins. But, it's the process of getting there that's the real point of the game. Questions range from "Do you like cats?" to "Have you ever cheated on a test?" and "Would you travel to another planet with an alien?" With queries from the very personal to the political, you're ensured a lively and unpredictable array of answers. Pollsters who don't like a card's questions can ad lib. If you make a mistake in your own answer (you forgot you once did that?), you must move backward two spaces. A Mensa Select game for 2001—just because it's lots of fun. Call (888) 989-7655, fax (425) 644-6416, e-mail email@example.com; www.thepollgame.com.
Mad About Movies! offers movie-lovers a trivia game to call their own. Invented by Cherise Lamber of Parklife Games in Chanhassen, Minn., the game contains over 1,500 multiple-choice and open-ended questions—from the categories "Who's Who," "In the Movies," "Quotes" and "Reel Knowledge"—about popular films released mostly between 1970 and 2000, as well as such classics as Casablanca, The African Queen and North by Northwest. The star of the game is the first player, in a "road trip" around the board, to earn a film frame from each of the four question categories. Suggested for ages 12 and up. New for 2002 are a booster pack of 3,100 new questions from movie classics through 2002 films and a desk calendar for 2003, with a daily trivia question for buffs who just can't get enough celluloid brain teasers. Call (952) 906-1968, fax (530) 326-8369, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.madaboutmovies.com.
The Art Game, published by Birdcage Books in Palo Alto, Calif., is a fresh and fun twist on the classic card games Go Fish! and Concentration that not only looks fabulous but also teaches art history (currently Impressionism and The Renaissance, in two different sets) in a way both kids (age seven and up) and adults can enjoy together. A deck of 32 high-quality cards illustrating four paintings by each of eight major artists forms the basis of the games—either "go fish" for works by the same artist (whoever makes the most complete sets wins) or play a Concentration-like game of matching two works by the same artist. Accompanying each deck of cards is a beautifully produced 80-page book on the artists and time period in which they worked. The book also includes biographies, a historical overview, a time line and discussions of each painting represented in the cards. Thoroughly kid-tested and especially handy before a family trip involving the "m-word" (museums). Call (650) 424-1701, fax (650) 424-1930; www.BirdcageBooks.com.
Lucy Hammett Games, in Mineola, Tex., takes picture bingo to the highest level. Featuring excellent illustrations on a wide variety of educational themes—nature, science, wildflowers, birds, bugs, dogs, the oceans, the United States and a number of individual states, as well as Lewis and Clark—the sets include six playing picture boards, 42 cards with descriptions, and plastic markers. Not only a clever way to play a colorful game of classic bingo, but also a marvelous classroom tool (teacher's editions are available with 18 boards). Custom bingo games can be arranged. Call (888) 420-7585, fax (903) 569-0690; www.lucybingogames.com.
For the very youngest gamers, several companies offer fun diversions of a creative nature. Aristoplay, Ltd., in Dexter, Mich., announces Monster Stomp, a board game for two to four players ages three and up. After molding little monsters out of dough (included) and placing them around the board, players move their pieces along the game path, gleefully stomping the monsters when the opportunity arises and putting them in jail. The object of the game is to stomp the most monsters and fill your "Monster Jail" card. Colorful, silly and developmentally keyed to wee ones learning colors and fighting monster fears. Call (800) 634-7738, fax (734) 424-0124, e-mail email@example.com.
Briarpatch Inc., of Millburn, N.J., creator of children's games and puzzles based on licensed books and characters (Thomas the Tank Engine, Harold and the Purple Crayon), introduces the I Spy Rhyme-A-Thon, a board game based on Walter Wick's captivating photos and Jean Marzollo's delightful riddles from Scholastic's blockbuster I Spy book series. Players race against one another to find words that fill in the blanks of their rhyme cards, using words and objects dealt at the beginning of each round as well as I Spy picture cards or even objects in the room visible to the entire group. The quickest, cleverest and luckiest player reaches the finish line by successfully composing rhymes. Call (800) 232-7427, fax (888) 231-7427; www.briarpatch.com.