Sunday, January 31, 2016

"Five Nights at Freddy's" with my Pals

    I think the most important thing about playing games is that you experience them with your friends. And one day my best friends and I decided to do just that. The cult indie game "Five Nights at Freddy's" had just come out and was taking YouTube by storm. In the game, you played a security officer, forced to guard a Chuck E. Cheese type restaurant filled with animatronics trying to kill you. You had to survive five nights from twelve to six in the morning and it was anything but easy. To say the least it's stressful and terrifying and when you're best friends are beside you, screaming and telling you to turn around, nothing gets your heart pumping faster. Another aspect was the fact that you only had so much power to turn on lights and shut your automatic doors, the only things that are there to protect you. Thousands of people were playing this game and recording their reactions because it was just that scary and seeing them react was just that much funnier. 

    It was a day at the end of the summer, right before we would all be going to our first semester of college. We had all planned out the day to just hang out together, watching movies and playing games. But of course, one of those video games had to include the biggest game of the summer, "Five Nights at Freddy's." It was only five dollars and I had recently been given my first debit card so I was quick to start swiping it.

    The whole thing had to be to the nines though. The three of us went into my basement because we didn't want to disturb my parents with screams we knew we'd be uttering. I set up my laptop to the TV through an HDMI cable and got the full experience of the surround sound. We took turns on the laptop, trying our best to get through night after night of the game.

    Here's how a stereotypical round went:

    I would take over control of the mouse and we'd begin listening to the voicemail left by the previous  night guard. Then, we'd be told to watch the camera. At first, the animatronics stayed in one room, looking vaguely normal if not creepy.

    "Taylor, check the doors." Faythann would excitedly yell at me, her nerves getting the better of her.

    And then I would and suddenly a terrifying bunny would be staring at me with the scariest music blasting through the surround sound, encapsulating us in terror.

    "SHUT IT. SHUT THE DOOR." Sam would scream as Faythann pounded on my arm.

    And then if I wasn't fast enough, that was it. The end.

    The lights on the screen would go out and we'd be facing a black screen. Then your forced to wait a random amount time, tension building as you wait for what happens next. There's this slow children's music that begins playing. I was hiding my face in my sweatshirt, Faythann was basically under a blanket and Sam was hiding his face in his hands. I think for a moment the three of us believed that maybe, just maybe, nothing would pop out at us and we'd all slowly look back up to the screen. 

    We were wrong every time.

    I think that this is one of my favorite moments with my friends even though we were constantly screaming and terrified. There's something about playing horror games that I feel like really gets you to remember hanging out with your best friends. We were all yelling and talking and laughing as soon as the jump scare hit us and we were finished screaming. To this day, when someone says "Five Nights at Freddy's" we all kind of side-eye each other and instantly recall that day. I think that what makes playing games with friends so magical. Not just board game but digital games, they help you create these memories that you look back at so fondly.

Taylor O'Neill

Sisterly Fun with Clue

        I grew up in a big Italian family with two sisters. Laura, my oldest sister was four years older than myself and my twin, Christina. We were probably about 10 and Laura was 14. Laura actually taught us how to play Clue during a snow storm at our cousins house and it then magically appeared under our Christmas Tree that Christmas. We were SO excited. 

          Being Italian, there were always so many people over at our house and believe it or not, to escape the loudness, the three of us would venture upstairs to Laura's bedroom and play Clue. The memory of the board game laid out in Laura's bedroom leaves a vivid memory in my mind. We would all sit on Laura's king size bed, in the same spots every time we played Clue. Laura, being the oldest would distribute the correct amount of cards each one of use needed. We would role the dice and the person who rolled the highest number would go first. Unfortunately, I feel like I never was the person to go first. But I put on my big girl pants, a pretty smile, got over and enjoyed the game. I remember how much fun it was trying to guess what three specific cards were in the middle in the envelope. I also remember how I could never pronounce ‘Colonel Mustard.’ Laura would always yell at me. However, she would be nice at times and teach me little “tricks” to playing Clue. The smartest one was paying attention- especially when people were guessing. Always pay attention and write down what place, person and weapon they guessed and if it were incorrect, you, as a player, would know not to guess that. This was somewhat hard for me because my ADHD seemed to kick in when paying attention was involved ;) 

   Sports or competing always came natural to Laura and Christina. Every time we played board games I would never win. But there was more behind that. Over time, it came down to enjoyment and sisterly bonding time-not who won or who lost. Our schedules were so busy that a few nights a week were dedicated to playing Clue. It was always such an exciting feeling knowing the end result of the cards in the envelope. I can still hear the three of us “guessing” and laughing and just enjoying our time together. I enjoy games where the end result isn’t about winning. It’s about having fun and making memories.

I hope that one day my children can enjoy the “good” games and bond with their siblings just like I did.  

Bethany Gencarella 

Games with Friends

Games have been a major component of my relationship with my best friend Hannah ever since we became friends sophomore year of high school. We shared a gym class together and initially bonded over our lack of athleticism, hiding in the back during games of kickball and dodging the basketballs lobbed at us by well-meaning classmates trying to get us more involved. This single gym class was life-changing for both of us, as we became (and still are) inseparable.

Though neither of us are one for athletic games, we both love boardgames. Some of my most vivid memories from high school are playing round after round of Sorry on a rainy afternoon, or playing a near endless game of Uno in the room above Hannah's garage because we both spitefully refused to shuffle. For us, games are the best way to get to know someone. Whenever we make a new friend we schedule an impromptu game night, playing games like Scattergories, Cards Against Humanity, Bananagrams, and Scribblish. There was one summer where we had game nights multiple times a week, every week, with Hannah and I often being the only static members of the group.

I remember playing Scribblish (essentially telephone but with drawing instead of speaking) at Hannah's New Year's party just a few weeks ago, resulting in one of my favorite rounds of the game, where someone misinterpreted a drawing of a goblin getting a makeover from two lizards as ferrets attacking a troll who had been playing darts. My favorite games are ones like Scribblish, where every game is different, no one is competitive or upset, and you can just sit back and enjoy the company you're with.

Rowan McKenna

Road Rage


Being the youngest child of three, by seven years, growing up in my household was quite the experience. I had always wanted to be more like my brother than my sister which sparked my liking for video games. He owned one game in particular that I was, and still am, quite fond of: The Simpsons Road Rage. The game is based on the animated sitcom The Simpsons that my whole family used to sit down and watch together.

Because I was little, I had no real idea of how inappropriate the game was, but I can remember pulling up chairs from the kitchen table, moving them too close to the TV, turning on the game, and being entertained for hours. Throughout there are multiple challenges assigned and races you must win, but I think I had the most fun ignoring some of the challenges for a while and driving Homer around carefully, stopping at stoplights or stop signs, and exploring the shortcuts Springfield offered me. That was the opposite of what I was supposed to be doing as indicated in the title of the game. It was fun for me to go back and forth between driving carefully and recklessly, driving into telephone poles and through people's lawns, then outrunning the cops.

There was one race I had the most fun with against Mr. Burns trying to make it to Lisa and Bart's school before he did. The exact details are escaping me now, but there were specific shortcuts that I loved taking such as smashing through the side of someone's house to fly onto a new section of road right near the school long before Mr. Burns would ever hope to arrive. The commentary by the characters during this race always seemed to make me laugh.

The game created a lot of excitement for me. It was one of my favorite things to do when I would get home from school. I have a lot of fond memories playing it with my brother or my good friends.

Allie Provost

Sent from Windows Mail

Saturday, January 30, 2016


The first game I remember playing was the game I knew growing up as football aka soccer. My uncles and older cousins would play with me for hours on end in an empty field about a mile away from my home. We took on the personas of famous players and kicked and ran and laughed. There never was a score kept. Just the sounds of playful screams and contact between foot and ball. The smell of fresh cut grass was in the air. One of my uncles would bring a grill and we would eat after playing and drink pineapple soda. Good time and better memories

Kirk Louis


When I was in my senior year of high school, I started noticing more and more that I was having trouble with anxiety and depression. I found it hard to have fun with anything that I used to have fun with, like playing games. I tried playing games to relax me, but I couldn't really find any game that made me feel at ease, nor could I find a game that was a really satisfying escapist-fantasy. A lot of games that I owned were violent power-fantasies, and it's not that those games can't be enjoyable, but those games weren't delivering the experience I was looking for.

After quitting my high school job, I didn't spend money on many things but, while browsing the Steam store one day, the title of a game caught my eye:


I clicked on the thumbnail and looked at a few screenshots. The game is composed of low-poly models and bright-colored textures. The game's only description was: "Proteus is a game about exploration and immersion in a dream-like island world where the soundtrack to your play is created by your surroundings. Played in first-person, the primary means of interaction is simply your presence in the world and how you observe it."

Due to school, I didn't have a ton of time to play games but, on a night when I could not sleep, I decided to play Proteus. I was immediately lost in a world of beautiful colors and amazing music and sounds. At first I had no idea what to do or what would happen, but the game allowed me to lose myself in such a relaxing and mysterious world. All the player does is walk around an island, and yet there's a ton of stuff to examine. The more I played and discovered, I realized that I had found an experience, however short, in which I could feel at ease. 

The game only takes about 50 minutes to complete (depending on how much you explore), and there isn't a ton of replay value, but I will never forget that one night where I finally got some peace of mind and was allowed to relax.

Cameron Bryce

Friday, January 29, 2016


I remember sitting at a large, round table with my family (my mom, dad, brother, sister and I), playing hearts.  At first, my siblings and I were too small to hold all of the cards in our hands, and we used cardholders -- colorful round plastic disks held together with a spring.  Mom or dad would shuffle the cards, riffling them that looked really fancy to us.  Us kids could arrange our cards out on the table, and then stick the cards into the holder in the order we wanted to view the cards.  There were polite rules we learned never to break, like never pick up your cards off the table before the dealer was finished dealing.  Never tell anyone about the cards you passed in the beginning of the game.  Don't pass the queen of spades unless you have no other spades in your hand.

At night, there was a set of glass doors behind one side of the table.  The doors acted as a mirror and so whoever sat in the chair with their back to the window had their hand reflected back to the other players (like a mirror).  We all learned to turn our chair just so, so that the reflection wouldn't mirror back to others.

My dad was really good at counting cards and knowing when to shoot the moon.  If he was shooting the moon, he would fold his cards in front of him in a certain order and just play from the top of the deck each round, winning the trick each time.  Mom would sometimes put on music -- one of her favorites was "the house of the rising sun" by the Animals.  I remember her periodically getting up and changing the music selections as the night wore on.

As we grew older, we graduated from the card holders, and we learned to shuffle and riffle the cards just like mom and dad.  One time I shot the moon just like my dad, with my cards in front of me, flipping over each round without me looking at the cards.  We also graduated to selecting music and playing DJ for the night, though dad wasn't always happy with our music choices.  I loved the times we sat around the table, playing and talking and sometimes trying to double guess the cards that others held in their hands.  There was a familiarity to the rules -- we didn't have to learn anything new -- and yet each game was slightly different.  Different card hands, different sized hands and arms as we grew older, different conversations, different winners.  And yet.  It was always the same.

Corinne McKamey

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Rainbow Road

    Ever since we were kids, me and my younger brother have always been highly competitive. Being relatively close in age often left us interested in similar things around the same age, which only added to our competitive relationship. However gaming was always the one thing we were most competitive about. Starting from Zelda on a Nintendo super to Grand Theft Auto on a PlayStation. However more then any other game, Mario Cart was the root of all rematches. My brother and I would play Mario Cart for hours in our family room, playing until our fingers were sore and cramping. Our Mario Cart obsession started on the GameCube, but went to completely different level when the Wii was released. The Wii changed the game, especially since we also used the Wii Mario Cart steering wheel. Currently there's not many things me and my brother are competitive about, since we have both realized our different interests and niche in society. However if we do make our way into the old family room, and the Wii happens to get turned on, I can guarantee at least one round of Rainbow Road... with a few rematches of course  

Emily Castonguay

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Snow Day Board Games

On a typical weekday day in mid-January during 3rd grade I woke up and saw white covering my whole window. I ran down the stairs and found my mother watching the news to see the school closings running across the bottom of the screen. I waited a couple of minutes and finally saw the name of my school go by. In my mind I screamed, "IT'S A SNOW DAY!!!". Now as a child I always loved playing in the snow, but this snow day I had an idea of something else I wanted to add to my (not) busy schedule; I wanted to play a board game! I went into the basement and dug out my favorite boardgames, The Game of Life. I've always been into the sort of role-playing types of games. I took every little piece out and set it all up on a table. After everything was ready, I went back upstairs and announced my great idea to my family. For some reason, they weren't as excited as I was. My father told me that he had to shovel, my middle-school aged brother just wanted to lay on the couch and watch TV, and my mother seemed to feel bad and said she wanted to play with me. To my 8-year old mind, that wasn't enough. I wanted everyone to play. Two players just wouldn't be as fun as it would be with four players. It took at least an hour of waiting and convincing for my father and brother to FINALLY agree to play. Playing the game with my whole family made my day and I haven't forgotten about it since, even 11 years later.

Regina LaPietra