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I enjoy games. My whole family enjoys games. When we get together for family reunions, we play a lot of games. Mostly, they’re the standard games: Yatzee, Monopoly (Super-Commemorative Regular Edition), poker, etc.

Gaming is a large niche business. I mean that with full irony. There are new games being created daily in the western world, games of strategy and games of luck and most of us will never see any of them. But look on-line, look in the right catalogues, and you’ll find thousands of interesting games. Interesting to gamers. So, while the gaming industry is huge, the market is still a niche in that most people just aren’t that into gaming. Once a year they might sit down and play a game with someone. So the industry exists for those of us who play several games a week—and those people who play several games a day.

So, if you’re a gamer, see if any of the following tug at your memory strings (warning, though, they might play the theme from “The Gong Show”) …

Some of you, guys mainly, may remember APBA games. The best APBA games were their baseball and football games. In them, you (the coach) had cards for actual major league baseball and professional football players. Roll the dice, check the charts, find the result and—with players who were familiar with the rules—you could play a 9 inning game in just a little less time than it takes to change out a transmission. Bunting, stealing, etc. it had everything but spitting and scratching (these had to be supplied by the players at home). The football game was OK, the baseball game was better, but (IMHO) both of them were inferior to Strat-O-Matic’s baseball and football games.

For those who remember APBA, did you know there was an “APBA American Saddle Horse Racing Game”? Using dice and charts and cards of ACTUAL HORSES you could replicate all the thrills and excitement of actual horse racing! And it only took an hour to recreate the excitement of a two minute race!

Or, remember that hockey game you used to play in the arcade? The one where you twisted the rods to make the hockey players go back and forth and spin like crazy in hopes of hitting a microscopic puck that usually got caught in the cracks where the players were? Right now, on eBay, you can get a “vintage” copy of that game that’s “like new” except that all the rods that control the players are gone.

In 1973, Sports Illustrated—in it’s partnership with games giant Avalon-Hill (with whom they had produced the excellent but weirdly named “Statis-Pro” games)—released a golf board game called “Go for the Green”. If you think watching golf has all the thrill of watching paint dry, then this is the game for you! If you love golf, you still won’t get a thrill out of this game. The most realistic thing about the game is that, unless you left the game somewhere where the cardboard can turn moldy, your charts of the greens have turned brown over the ensuing years.

And who can forget “Vibrating Football”? As a child, I loved this game. Line up your players in a realistic NFL formation, turn on the vibrating field … and watch your running back suddenly head for the sidelines like there were little plastic naked cheerleaders over there. The copy on the “vintage box” I’m looking at on-line proclaims: “Players actually run-block-tackle even fumble.” I remember that! Especially the fumble part. My players led the league in fumbling, even on plays where I had forgotten to actually give one of them the football. And do you know anyone who ever got the “built-in clock” to work? For me, it either moved slower than an hour hand, or spun like a top—often flying apart and decapitating the special quarterback.

Kids these days, whose only experience with a football game is the hyper-realism of “Madden” have no idea what they’re missing. No wonder the world’s in such sad shape.

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About Sam White

Samuel Ben White (“Sam” to his friends) is the author of the national newspaper comic strip “Tuttle’s” (found at www.tuttles.net) and the on-line comic book “Burt & the I.L.S.” (found at www.destinyhelix.com). He is married and has two sons. He serves his community as both a minister at a small church and a chaplain with hospice. In addition to his time travel stories, Sam has also written and published detective novels, a western, three fantasy novels and four works of Christian fiction.

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