Are you the kind of person who’ll sulk if you’re not Colonel Mustard? Or will you do anything to get your hands on Park Lane? On a simple level, I’ve come to realize that the games we loved playing as children might show more about personality than we think.
Last week a friend suggested a game of Monopoly after a dinner party; there followed a combination of groans and excitement. Interestingly, the great number was an accountant and those keen to play included an Estate Agent and a financial consultant. Whilst we tend think of most board games as ‘child’s play’ a game of Monopoly amongst ‘serious’ players can get competitive, not to mention vicious. Watching the game that night got me to thinking about how the games that people have enjoyed playing since childhood are quite revealing. Perhaps the jobs we’ll go into in later life are fixed long before we can already spell the information ‘career’?
Personally I can’t stand Monopoly, watching adults play (once I ‘lost’ everything to get myself out of the game as soon as I could) reminded me of all the reasons I’ve avoided it since childhood. Given a choice I’d play Cluedo for hours, Monopoly, no thank you! As the game continued I chatted to a friend who had also extracted herself from the game early. She’s an interesting lady; currently working as a legal secretary but studying for a degree in Criminal Justice or Criminology online in addition as looking after two children. She told me a bit about the degree, and then revealed that she too loved Cluedo. As we watched Monopoly descend into less than friendly banter, we concluded that Cluedo lovers have strong skills in logic and persuasion, perfectly appropriate to very different careers than those who enjoy the out and out competitive strategies needed for Monopoly.
It turned out that not only did she love Cluedo; she was also a walking treasure trove of information about the game’s history. She told me that a solicitor’s clerk named Anthony Pratt, who was an avid murder mystery fan, invented it in Leeds during World War II. He came up with the idea as a way to pass the time during air raid drills in 1944. Mr. Pratt, who seemingly described himself as “an introvert complete of ruminations, speculations and imaginative notions” took the game to Waddingtons with some friends who’d already invented, and sold, Buccaneer. Due to wartime shortages it wasn’t released until 1949.
A play on words was used to name the game. Since the object was to collect clues; Cluedo was a play on the information ‘Ludo’ – meaning, “I play” in Latin. However, for an American market the game was simply named ‘Clue” because they play ‘Parchisi’ instead of ‘Ludo’.
It was fascinating stuff that made my love of the game seem positively amateur, I recognized that she’d be a great opponent. Fortunately, just as she spotted a set in our great number’s house and suggested that we might play, the game of Monopoly ended in a sulky truce.