Games that Make You Feel Like a Kid
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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Among the myriad reasons that I play games is simply sheer escapism. As one is absorbed in the game, the pressures of work and responsibility fade into the distance, replaced by a languid, carefree feeling. Stimulated, alert, but without a care in the world.

I must have had a pretty good childhood, all things considered, because whenever I start to feel a game that way I am reminded of what it felt like to be a kid. To be concentrating on a problem that didn't really matter, to have a mind unfettered by mortgage payments, deadlines and traffic jams. To be thinking only about what my friend and I were going to play next. For my time to be marked by learning and growth rather than a sense of constant accountability.

All games put me back into this blissful state to an extent. That's what mental competition does to me. But quite frequently when browsing through the collections on BGG, I come across games that seem as though they'd be exceptionally likely to make me feel ten years old again.

This list is dedicated to such games. Impulsively, in making this list, I included no games that I've already played. This is based on BGG images and descriptions alone.

Along the way, I'll provide some commentary regarding what it is about these games that induces regressive reflections.

Feel free to add any games that place you into a state of youthful, carefree bliss.
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1. Board Game: Survive: Escape from Atlantis! [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:232]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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Any game with a title phrased as an imperative almost automatically sends me back to my 1970s childhood: "Survive!" "Stay Alive!" "Don't Break the Ice!" "Go for Broke!" "Toss Across!" "Clean Up Your Room!" "Look at Me When I'm Talking to You!" "Don't Be Such a Stumblebum!"

Not only the exclamatory imperative of this game's title, but the theme, the components, the gameplay, and the musical-chairs-ish feeling all lend themselves to the ambience.
 
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2. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:117] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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If you were born when I was (1963) you were acutely conscious of how the culture of childhood had changed in just the previous few years. Our older brothers and cousins played with plastic army men, with cowboys and Indians, and they traded baseball cards depicting players with crewcuts. We on the other hand played games with wild day-glo colors, bugs and flowers and psychadelic images, filled with pacifistic and environmentally conscious messgaes, and traded baseball cards with players in sideburns and Afros.

But the old ways persisted among the new. Black and white reruns of Leave it to Beaver co-existed with our parents watching All in the Family. And there was at least one family on every street that clung to the dominant fashions of just a few years before.

In our neighborhood, that family was the Ubers, a clan of boys who, every one of them, dressed, acted, parted and greased their hair like the cast of My Three Sons. The old play culture that had been built off of World War II toys (a trend killed off in most homes by disillusion over Vietnam) was still present and thriving at their house.

Looking at these images of Memoir '44 puts me back in those neighbors' house.
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3. Board Game: Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:545]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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Someday when I cross the River Jordan, I will be re-united with every glorious plastic figurine I ever held and cherished: the Freakies figures I dug out from the bottoms of cereal boxes, the Archies' car that I snapped together, and of course the little Viking men who swarmed all over a ship atop my dresser, right next to a couple of car models (which, by the way, Dad did most of the work in assembling.)

Whenever I look at the galaxy of figures present in Star Wars, the Queens' Gambit, I can only assume that playing the game must be quite a nostalgia trip.
 
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4. Board Game: PitchCar [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:314]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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I once had a race track that was supposed to operate via coil zipping along within the grooves, pulling the race car along with it. The thing never did work, the coil always getting stuck: one of my first lessons in the gap between hopes and realities.

The Carabande track seems tailor-made for the kind of idle, childlike fun I missed out on. What could be more satisfying for an overgrown boy than flicking his cars around the racetrack?
 
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5. Board Game: Um Reifenbreite [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1124]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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This looks to be a good game, and the artwork adds to the impression of wholesome, silly fun. Though not truly dating back to my childhood, the cartoony art looks endearingly 1970s-ish to me.
 
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6. Board Game: Formula Dé [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:576]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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Of all the games in my collection, Daytona 500 is probably the one that most puts me in a festive, childish mood. But fine game though Daytona 500 is, Formula De really looks much cooler in the photos. The greater detail in the scenery puts me in mind of a Matchbox layout I once had: with city roads, rural roads, an overpass, a construction area, and traffic lights. What fun!
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7. Board Game: Fearsome Floors [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:908]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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This game just looks intrinsically cool to a kid's eyes -- trying to avoid a hideous monster, while sending him after your opponents. The components of the monster look straight out of the Fright Factory images from my old Super Thingmaker set. Does anyone besides me remember Plastigoop?
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8. Board Game: Breaking Away [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:1972]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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Of all the games on my wish list, Breaking Away is probably the one that I am most concerned to buy before the publisher on his own decides to stop making it. (Unfortunately the quantity of my recent purchases forbids my justifying this to my beloved right now.)

I've heard criticism of the components as cheap, but for me that doesn't at all interfere with nostalgic feelings. I was perfectly content, as a kid, to work on those little cheaply-constructed brainbusters that vacationing parents could pick up for their kids at the likes of Howard Johnsons' and Waffle Houses.
 
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9. Board Game: Pirate's Cove [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1020]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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What small boy didn't love pirates? To make matters worse for me than for most kids, I was a diehard Pittsburgh Pirates fan. I also was taken to Disneyland in early childhood and came home fascinated by the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. A layout like this would send my inner child into paroxysms of ecstasy. "No fear of evil curses, have ye. . . "
 
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10. Board Game: Loopin' Louie [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:682]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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I'm delighted to see that this excessively juvenile-looking toy is enjoying a resurgence of favor among adults. Sending a crazed biplane pilot hurtling through the objects balanced on my opponents' barns seems like an extremely worthwhile way to spend an afternoon.
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11. Board Game: Hare & Tortoise [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1072]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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I understand that the math of Hare and Tortoise is quite subtle and the game very challenging. But if you can't feel like a happy kid while playing a game where bunnies and turtles nibble in a garden of carrots and lettuce, you really need a vacation.
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12. Board Game: Battleball [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:2196]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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I was a sports nut as a kid, so any sports-themed game immediately reconnects me to early days. Look at the kids enjoying this one! They are interchangeable with many a pair depicted on the gameboxes of my youth. I can easily see myself holding tournaments of this. . .
 
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13. Board Game: Subbuteo [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:1280]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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. . and this! I had a tabletop hockey set, and Skittle Pool. Not sure which this reminds me of most, but dexterity-based sports simulations are right up my alley (playing piano is definitely good training for all of these.) As Phil Collins said: "Su - Su - bbuteo!"
 
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14. Board Game: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Game [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1635]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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And what better way to make you feel young than to entertain yourself with a product with a mass media tie-in? This layout reminds me of the look of several games in my youth -- distantly, but enough to conjure the feeling.
 
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15. Board Game: Buccaneer [Average Rating:6.04 Overall Rank:5979]
Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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Pirates again. And a nostalgic old pioneering game to boot. I only recently stumbled across this one while browsing on BGG, and it truly seems like a classic. Not only would it tap into a sense of childish fun, but would no doubt remind me of some of the earliest games I ever saw. Those colors! Wouldn't that look great on a formica kitchen table?
 
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16. Board Game: Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:270] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Lyman Hurd
United States
Cupertino
California
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The first game that came to mind when I saw the topic. Take that, you swamp creatures.
 
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17. Board Game: Mystery Mansion [Average Rating:6.04 Overall Rank:6415]
Tim Fiscus
United States
Maricopa
Arizona
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I'm 31 and I still own this game. Sometimes my wife and I will sit down and get this out and laugh and laugh... It's so very silly, but you really do get nervous huddled around the little treasure chests. Will it be treasure?! Will it be cobwebs?! GASP! It's...

Great times.
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18. Board Game: DungeonQuest [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1281]
Björn Hansson
Sweden
Bromma
Stockholm
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I spent literally hundreds of hours playing this as a kid. Still a great game!
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19. Board Game: Strat-O-Matic Pro Football [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:3060]
Li'l Ronnie Post
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Fond memories of skipping grade school to hide in Dad's den playing this in stealth mode, so as not to get caught...
 
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20. Board Game: Waldschattenspiel [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:4298]
Li'l Ronnie Post
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Playing this charming little game by candlelight (the candle doubles as a player token) warms the cockles of my evil little heart.
 
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21. Board Game: Goldland [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1676]
kevin crog
United States
N. Canton
Ohio
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Searching for treasure, battling jungle cats, questing across deserts, this game has it all. I really love the mechanism where the stuff you carry slows you down, makes it feel like you're really wearing a pack. Racing your opponents, cutting them off, and finding out what lies around the next corner all add to the atmosphere, and make this into any kid's fantasy adventure.
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