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May 24, 2009

Junior Leagues

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — inky @ 10:51 pm

I was thinking earlier about Hi-Ho! Cherry-O (as is so often the case). This and Candyland are generally accepted by parents as the worst board games ever invented. But now I’m thinking that is actually because of a misapprehension. See, they’re both educational games — Hi-Ho! Cherry-O is designed to teach counting and Candyland is designed to teach color matching or sugar addiction or something. Which means the intent is for an actual developable skill to be involved. Which means they’re sports, not games. So in this context it is perfectly sensible that they’re lame for parents — it’s like complaining that tee ball is insufficiently challenging.

There are two obvious ways to fix this. One would be to fix these two up so they are at a more appropriate skill level. Like Candyland could have more sophisticated color gradients a la this arrangement test. Or Hi-Ho! Cherry-O could have a spinner with things like “Add cherries equal to the largest prime factor of 600851475143.”

But what’s more interesting to me is the idea of adding some kind of meta-game layer on top which the parents would appreciate. So, say, what about Fantasy Candyland? Get together with the other parents at preschool and form a league, draft kids and then report results back to the PTA. Suddenly your games become much more gripping — you have $50 riding on Billy down the street drawing a blue in the next two cards. The only problem is if Billy just can’t perform up to standards and keeps trying to eat the cards, there’s nothing much you can do about it — you can’t send somebody down to the minors when they are a minor.


  1. ha ha ha.
    We’ve tried both Hi-Ho Cherry-O and Candyland at home. Candyland was a total bust. How do you explain to a three year old the concept of staying on the path? He knows his colors, but “go to the nearest box of this color going forward on the path” is pretty difficult. And a bit dull.

    The cherries on the other hand, are really fun, and popular. Even the dog knocking over the bucket evokes giggles. But now I am wondering what the meta-game would be like. Making a cherry pie? An RPG?

    Comment by duchess — May 27, 2009 @ 5:32 pm

  2. Man, I’m just thinking of the ride home, where Dad is enraged because he had $50 riding on his son.

    Great points, though. When my friend’s six-year-old was having trouble communicating with kids at school, I made up a game for her:

    I told her to go have her mom draw a picture of stick-people doing something. Then, I had her bring it out and, without letting me see it, describe it to me with words. And I drew what she described.

    Then, we compared them. Finally, I had her mom draw a picture, and I described it to her.

    Now that was a fun game.


    Comment by Conrad — June 14, 2009 @ 6:47 am

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