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Board Games from Years Past Your Family and Friends Might Never Have Seen

by: Ronda Bowen ; edited by: Donna Cosmato ; updated: 5/25/2012 • Leave a comment

If you remember the board game Key to the Kingdom, then it's very likely that you were a child of the 90s. If you remember the board game Anti-Monopoly, then you were probably around in the late 70s. What do these two vintage board games have in common? You might be able to find them around to play.

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    As if There Weren't Enough Games on the Shelves to Choose From

    There have been a lot of board games made and played over the years, and it's quite possible that you have a few of the classics hanging out on your shelves. It's fun to find games from your past at the thrift store and at garage sales, but you can also find such games at online stores like eBay, Board Games Geek, Fun Again Games, and Vintage Game World. Not only can playing these games sometimes give you a glimpse into history, but they can be a fun and inexpensive alternative to some of the classic board games that are still widely in print.

    You can find some real gems at garage sale, thrift store, or even in a board game lot on eBay. While there aren't a lot of board games I'd pay a lot of money for (I'm thinking that the dollar a game price at yard sales is about my style - and I don't think I'd pay more than $5 for a used board game), there are some vintage board games it's worth keeping your eye out for. And hey, if you find a few that are similarly themed, you could even have a board game party focused around that theme.

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    Grunge-Loving Bubble Gum Pop Boy Band Early 90s Games

    Wow, did you get your tongue tied up just now. Me too! During the 1990s, there were a lot of crazy games based on popular music, television shows, and well let's just dive in. If you wanted to throw a party themed around games of the 90s, I'd suggest requesting people come over with their hair unwashed in their finest flannel shirts with hiking boots and cargo pants. Ladies can wear sundresses over white ribbed t-shirts. Here are some games that will have you giggling as you listen to Nirvana, Soundgarden, New Kids on the Block, Vanilla Ice, and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

    Don't miss the Beverly Hills 90210 Survey Game!  

    Beverly Hills 90210 Survey Game - The point of this game was to answer a question that asked what percentage of teenagers answered yes to that question. You set your percentage dial to what you think the correct answer is. You'll laugh at some of the questions that were from what they call "90210 situations." And if you haven't watched the classic 90210 (not the new one on TV) you might want to check it out.

    The New Kids on the Block Game made its way onto many girls' bookshelves.   New Kids on the Block Board Game - Oh the nerdity! This game was also a blast from the past in terms of bubble gum pop. If you find it, grab it. It's selling for between $60 and $200 online. The point of the game involved making your way around the board and collecting pictures from different board spots. It's good for a laugh if you find it now (or to resell online)!

    Careers for Girls was another popular game   Careers for Girls - Okay, this game is so not politically correct by today's standards. You can become a veterinarian, a supermom, a rock star, a fashion designer, a school teacher, or a college student in this game. Yeah, feminists everywhere are screaming. I actually owned this game. I still own this game. (In fact, I've owned all three games thus far mentioned). It's fun to play, but it very much reinforces gender stereotyping of girls.

    Stump your friends with Mind Trap   Mind Trap - This game certainly made you feel as though your mind were in some sort of vice press. The game featured brain teasers, and many people enjoyed this game, however, many people got annoyed too. I was one who enjoyed the game. Clue Museum Caper was a riot   I'd begged my parents for it. Guess who I would walk around stumping on a boring and rainy Saturday?

    Clue Museum Caper - Oh this game was a lot of fun. I never owned it. Some guy I dated in high school did. We played it one rainy day at his parents' house. It was the only time I played it, and I still remember it. What does that say? It was a 3-D game. There were tiny paintings. If you find it, grab it!

    Disorderly Conduct was quite the risque game for the time   Disorderly Conduct - This game...this game was labeled "For adults!" It was quite risqué for the time, and it was meant to be a teen party game - for when the parents were out and the teens were in the basement. In my case, I think my parents bought this game, then realized in horror that it was a kissing game. If nothing else, you'll get a kick out of the great 90s couples on the cover.

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    Please continue to the next page to learn about more vintage games from the 80s and earlier.

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    Great Games from the 80s - Hold Them Now!

    If the 90s were filled with teenage angst and bubblegum, the 80s were filled with MTV, feel-good sitcoms, and Saturday morning cartoons. The games from this era are also sure to amuse. If you want to have an 80s board game night, have your friends over dressed in their best 80s garb. Blast your favorite George Michael, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Cyndi Lauper tunes while you munch on Cheetos and drink Mountain Dew.

    Bonkers was enough to drive parents bonkers   Bonkers - I totally forgot this game existed until I was working on this article, and yes, it was a game we had as kids. The board game involved building a track you would move around on, and the point of the game was to get to the finish first. I think what happened to the game was that the pieces got lost. Either Bed Bugs will make your skin crawl.   that, or it was a game I played at a friend's house and it just stuck with me.

    Bed Bugs - In light of the current problem with bed bugs in the United States, perhaps you'd like to honor these annoying little creatures by picking this game up if you see it around. (Hey, if you have your 80s board game party in a shady hotel, you can make it a bed bug party.) The purpose of the game was to capture little bugs that would be wiggling around on a vibrating table with a pair of chopsticks.

    Guess the word by listening to random words.   Password - Perhaps you've seen 80s TV shows where they play this game. My parents would play this game when they'd have people over. You know you've been witness to this game if you recall someone saying, "Bull," and pausing while raising his or her eyebrows. The Gender Bender   point was to give tips without saying the word so that your partner or team would guess the word. If you're wondering what the password for "bull" was, it was "bear." My mom's cousin was miffed that she didn't get it.

    Gender Bender - I've actually never seen this game. I can only imagine. The point of this game is to "switch roles with the opposite sex." Hmmm...I wonder what kind of gender stereotypes this game is perpetuating. It's almost enough to make me want to pick it up. Almost.

    Show how much time you spent on the couch in the 80s in this board game   MTV Remote Control - I used to sneak out to see my older brother watching this television show, and I remember the advertisements for this game. Even though I wasn't technically allowed to watch MTV in the 1980s, I was intrigued by this trivia game. The point of the game was to score as many points as you could by answering trivia about television shows. It embraced slacker culture.

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    Groovy Games from the 70s

    Ah the 70s, the time of bell bottoms, disco, and tiki bars. Many popular board games have remained around since the 1970s, but there are some strange games from this time period. If you see them, grab them up, man. We can have a groovy time being hip together. Don't forget to serve 70s-themed food and drinks. For inspiration, watch That 70s Show and Boogie Nights. For kid-friendly festivities, play the Monkeys and serve Kool-Aide.

    picture   Pass Out - Leave it to the folks in the 70s to name a game after what happens when you play it. This game was a drinking game, and you would have to do whatever it said to do on the space. The game also features what were called "Pink Elephant Cards." Now that you've stopped laughing, I can tell you what those cards were for. You had to say a tongue twister if you got one. If you couldn't do it...well you know what you had to do. Bottoms up!

    picture   Let's Go Shopping - Okay, so after you can't move the next morning, you pick yourself up. There's no way you can make it to the store. Instead, you pull out your favorite game that simulates the shopping experience and trains your children to become consumers. It was a predecessor for Mall Madness, I'm sure.

    Billionaire might be just the game you need to play to feel powerful   Billionaire - After all that faux-shopping you're probably going to be bummed out. Especially since you spent your rent paying for the rematch of Pass Out. Now, it's time to get ahold of this game. In this game, you simulate being, well, a billionaire. Anti-Monopoly can make you feel redeemed.   Maybe Donald Trump played this game as a kid.

    Anti-Monopoly - After all the money grubbing, partying, and shopping, you're going to need to purge your soul. Why not do so by breaking up other people's monopolies in this game. The purpose of this game, like any of the Monopoly games, is to be the best slum lord you can possibly be.

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    The Games of Yester-Year

    There were a lot of awesome vintage board games. In the pre-70s eras, many games were focused on family fun. As a matter of fact, many of the board games are still published today - Clue, Monopoly, Pit, Racko. In keeping with the spirit of finding some of the less common games of the era, here are some you'll definitely want to keep your eyes opened for.

    If you've always wanted to run for president, this game will help you prepare   Mr. President - Learn about the campaign process in this game. When you play this game, you'll find I wonder what Moses would say.   yourself getting frustrated. I wonder if the game includes campaign contributions and accusations of voting machine fraud? Either way, it can be a fun way to spend an afternoon.

    The Ten Commandments - After you've had enough of the politics, perhaps it will be time to play a game that speaks to your more spiritual side. You win if you've collected all ten of the commandments and you've landed on a commandment space.

    The Amazing Dunniger Mind Reading Game - This game was more of a test. It was a test to see whether you had any psychic powers. The point of the game was to try to guess - er discern- what the other person was thinking. The point of this game, evidently was to determine exactly how powerful you were telepathically.

    Can you read minds? Maybe if you practice enough.  

    There's my list of some of the very interesting games from years past that you may have missed or forgotten about. What are some of the games you remember playing when you were a kid? Have you found any notable vintage board games at garage sales, flea markets, or thrift stores?

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    References:

    Board Game Geek: http://boardgamegeek.com/

    Vintage Game World: http://www.vintagegameworld.com/

    Fun Again Games: http://www.funagain.com/control/main

    All images courtesy of Vintage Game World.

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