"All now was turned to jollity and game,
To luxury and riot, feast and dance."
-- Milton, Paradise Lost
The playing of party games has a long and distinguished history. Humans have played games of one sort or another for as long as there have been humans, so it was only natural that games should be played at parties and get-togethers. The wise host or hostess will do well to remember what his or her ancestors knew so well - party games keep a party going.
For the purposes of this essay, we need not go so far back in time as that era envisioned by Milton in his epic poem. My personal opinion is that party games - like so much in our past - came close to reaching their nearest peak of perfection during the Victorian period. Back then, before the ubiquity of radio or television, the concept of "home entertainment" had nothing to do with electronic equipment. One had to rely on oneself and one's companions for fun and distraction. And, of course, one could only bear to listen to little Cousin Becky's ardent but uninspired violin-playing for so long . . .
If by oneself, one could play solitaire (or patience), or assemble a jigsaw puzzle. If with one other companion, perhaps a game of chess, or checkers. Dominoes can accommodate more than two players, and some card games absolutely demand a larger crowd. One must have four players for euchre. Fan Tan works best with six or seven players. Pokeno can accommodate 12 players or, with the addition of Pokeno Too, up to 24 players.
The trouble with card games is that they aren't often thought of as party games nowadays, primarily because one must know how to play them beforehand. Most moderns, when confronted with the phrase "party game" always seem to think of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. It's a sad reflection of the fact that we've been raised to think that only children should actually have fun at parties, and that adults enjoying themselves at get-togethers is somehow unsophisticated.
Fortunately, there are now a variety of party games appropriate for adults. (Let us agree amongst ourselves to accept the game of Charades as passé, and make no mention of it.) Most of these games involve a bit of role-playing and dressing up - which, if we were honest with ourselves, we would admit to enjoying immensely. I am thinking here primarily of mystery party games (I've listed some of the more popular ones below), but the Shakespeare In a Box series also qualifies. I am not thinking of games such as Dungeons and Dragons - these aren't really party games, and certainly not games at parties any of our readers would want to find themselves at.
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