SG50 Fifty and More memories – The Games We Played at Home


Let’s recall a time where wifi and tablets doesn’t exist, where handphones cost a bomb and could only perform simple tasks like calling and texting. Internet was slow and troublesome to setup and neopets hasn’t infiltrated our lives (before year 2000). It took me a long time to recall the games I played with my cousins every weekend or during the ultra long school holidays – where holidays were really holidays. No make-up classes, no extra enrichment classes, no extra curriculum activities. Just some bored kids indoors.

2. Playing “Ghost”

This was one of the simplest game we ever invented (or so we thought we invented it) for a group of at least 3 people. All you have to do is to gather all the blankets at home and perform an “oh-ya-pei-ya-som-ba-lei-ya-roti-prata-chao-kway-teow” by flipping one hand back and front in the middle (together with the entire group). We repeat the process multiple times until an “odd-one-out” is identified and everyone else will pile all the blankets on the chosen one (aka The Ghost) and invite him/her to the door. They will have to count to 10 outside the room before entering. The remaining people (aka The Humans) will have to stock up or throwables (usually soft toys, pillows, bolsters) and find a good hiding place in order to not get caught by The Ghost and become the next Ghost. We usually turn off the lights for the best effect though the lights from the street lamps outside makes it visible anyway. The Ghost enters the room (suppose to close their eyes on integrity but nobody does it as you will probably trip and fall) and puts his/her hand out into the open and try to touch everything/anything hoping that it would be their replacement. The Humans will try to attack the Ghost by throwing whatever soft items they can (we may be violent but we have basic sense on pain) in order to hinder his/her search. Well, the Ghost usually wins by cheating as they will obviously have to open their eyes to sight for legs within their limited vision of the blankets before capturing the next Ghost. When does the game end? It usually ends with one parent entering the room and turning on the lights shouting “Time to Go Home!” and the Ghost will be the happiest person lifting up all the blankets for the breathe of fresh air. It is pretty suffocating to the Ghost and I guess this game is not safe for kids in today’s context.

3. Board (Bored) Games

Despite Monopoly and The Game of Life being the more popular games (still seeing it around and toy fairs today), I never owned any of them. Instead, I play with two other more exotic games – The Mad Magazine Game and Hotels.

3a. Mad Magazine Game

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Gosh, for the first time ever, I realised that this game is older than me. It was produced back in 1979 and this ridiculous game amazingly survived more than 20 years before I set my hands on it. This game first belonged to my brother and it was passed down to me when he outgrew it. If you haven’t played this game before, it is an absurdly MAD game (monopoly-style with usual dice rolling and money transactions) with the winner being the one that loses all his/her money first. You can only roll the dice with your left hand or risk receiving money from every player. Their Chance pile includes a “This card can only be played on FRIDAY” card, “exchange money with any player” card, “Put this card on top of your head and walk around the table backwards. If it doesn’t fall off before you sit down you lose $1000” card, swapping seats, put the card on top of your head and walk X rounds and a whole long list of ridiculous rules. It’s a really fun game and a winner will emerge much faster than the traditional Monopoly (In fact the only monopoly game I ever completed was online via Feeling very tempted to buy this game off amazon and play it with my “Monopoly Deal” clique – yes I have a group of friends who meet and play intensive Monopoly deal for the past 4 years.

3b. Hotels Board Game

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Hotels (1987) – Another game that is older than me and yes it was a hand-me-down by my brother again. It was another Monopoly-styled (usual dice rolling and money transactions) but with highly fashionable hotels and names like Waikiki, Le Grand, Boomerang, Taj Mahal, Fujiyama, President (the most expensive hotel). We always take this game out to play on rainy days because it is a very long game which we hardly ever had a winner because the hotels collapse very easily (we play on the floor) and we get annoyed when the roof keeps falling off. Often, we spend more time arranging the buildings than the game itself. The game usually ends when my toddler cousin enters the room and walk through our board game like Gorilla and makes all the building collapse. This board game exists to bore us out after an hour or so. The toughest part is to pack as we can never remember how to properly fit the off shape buildings back into the box.

4. Bedroom Baseball

I think we only played this game once or twice in my whole life but it is something which lingered in my memory till today. In order to play this game, you need to have a very long room/corridor, a pillow, a bolster and a small round stuffed toy. This is not going to be a complex game where you are required to run a circle and complete a homerun. It is basically just throwing, aiming and hitting. Someone throws the stuffed toy (as a ball) to the person with the bolster (hitting it like a bat) and hits it to the person with the pillow as a catch. It may sound easy but in reality it is difficult and we just end up laughing most of the time.

5. Tamagotchi

I wonder if the kids today know what a “Tamagotchi” is. Back in the 1998-2001 era, this egg-like device is the hottest thing ever. It is pocket-sized, only has 3 buttons and 8-10 options to “play” with. You can choose to feed it, play with it, clear the poop, bathe it etc. I think I only received one when in 1999 or 2000 after my Dad visited Japan for a work trip. Sadly, he did not buy the popular “Tamagotchi” brand but this grey and ugly device, which turned out to be even better. It has curved shape which fits perfectly to the grip of a hand and it has a pedometer function. Back in 2000, where miband and fitbit doesn’t exist, nobody really cares about the number of step each person take each day. Anyway the point of all this was that I remembered this one night where I stayed over at my cousins place. We were dreading to sleep as we had a lot of fun in the day and we were practically just lying down talking. There were very bad thunders that night and we all up and bright awake. We got up and started having a competition to shake the Tamagotchi, comparing who could clock the most number of “steps” in 1/5 minutes. We were very proud to sleep way beyond midnight; I guess we felt that day as there was a bit of excitement that we were “disobeying” our parents by not sleeping. Just a random memory which lingers in my mind through the years.

6. Card Games

Back when we were young, poker cards were generally associated with gambling and it was the less preferred cards to play with as compared to Uno, Old Maid, Donkey & Happy Family. There were two games that I remembered playing excessively with my cousins – 7 Diamonds and Memory Game. It was a long forgotten game and most people wouldn’t have heard of 7 Diamonds. Thankfully, I found the entire set of rules on Wikepedia. Basically it is a card clearing game whereby the person holding 7 diamonds will start off first and you will take turns to discard a card as long as it fits the sequence or start a new suit if you have the 7 card. If you have many As and Kings in your hand, you won’t have a good chance of winning. It may seem like a simple game but there were many fun memories and it was a game which could have an ending (unlike Monopoly which takes forever). The other game was “Memory Game” where we basically flip all the cards face down on the floor or table and take turns to open 2 cards at a time. If the cards match, we will keep the card. The winner is the one with the most number of cards at the end. The greatest joke of this game was that we once played it on top of a transparent table when we were in Penang. It took us a while before I realised that we could cheat by staring underneath. Alright bad joke but it was funny at that moment. Over the years, we evolved to playing Stress, Heart Attack, “Big 2”, “Blackjack”. Then came the non-poker card games like Saboteur and Monopoly Deal (which I still play with my clique today and for the past 3 years). Card games are here to stay alright.


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