My childhood memories are happily peppered with afternoons sitting cross legged on the carpet, moving colorful tokens around a cardboard rectangle. Like many families, we played Candy Land, Trouble, Sorry, Operation and the list goes on and on. As an adult, one of my favorite things to do is spend three hours at a coffee shop playing a single game of Scrabble. So you can imagine my horror when I learned about ‘Snack Toys.’
According to The Wall Street Journal, that’s what Hasbro is calling its latest line of toys that are played in super short amounts of time.
Scrabble Flash, the newest version of the classic Scrabble, a board game found in a third of American homes, only takes two and a half minutes to play. The new Monopoly Empire only takes 30 minutes to complete and Hasbro even eliminated the jail component to speed the game along.
The reason? Kids don’t have the time, with all the activities they’re always running too, and they often don’t have the attention span.
Dan Restione, father and KIRO employee, is downright angry.
“They’re ruining the games in the process. Monopoly is meant to take a long time. There’s supposed to be jail! That’s dramatic tension! Where’s the Get Out of Jail Free card anymore? It’s not there, kids! It’s not Monopoly. One of the things those games teach kids is strategic thinking. ‘Should I put in hotels? I don’t know. Hmmm…I think I’ll stick with the houses.’ Not in this new, current game. I hate what they’re doing to Monopoly, Scrabble and probably every other game I love.”
But Kim Shepard, mother to four kids ages three to eight, thinks the shorter games are brilliant.
“I don’t even know how long a regular game of Monopoly would take with my kids because they have yet to get through the entire game. Probably it would be, like, an hour but within 20-30 minutes they’ve had enough, they’re done. We never finish a game. So, yeah, to have a shorter game that would be 10 or 15 minutes? I think they might actually finish it. So that would be kind of appealing.”
Kim says she doesn’t have time to play a two-hour long game either.
“For me, as a parent, I only have 20 or 30 minutes at a time that I can really spend just playing with my kids. That I don’t have to clean the house, do the groceries, go to work or whatever else needs to get done. So to have those shorter games that I can actually play with my children, when I have the time, is great.”
Kim says she would rather her kids play a 10 minute long board game, than spend that time on the computer or playing video games.
The Wall Street Journal says a Kaiser Family Foundation study shows that in 2004 kids took in about an hour and a half of digital media a day, including TV, video games and movies. In 2009 that jumped to seven and a half hours of screen time every day. Mattel, the world’s largest toy maker, says 60 percent of parents surveyed still want their kids to play with traditional toys and shorter games are rated better by game testers.
I realize that the horror Dan and I are experiencing is almost 100 percent fueled by nostalgia, but momma Kim says that no amount of talking up the good old games of yore seem to change her kids’ minds.
“They basically roll their eyes, like I’m an old fogy and I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about. So I don’t think you can force it on them. But I think the good thing is, if you can give these little bite size games to them now, maybe when they get older you can convince them to try the longer versions, the classic version of the game, and do those fun things that you did when you were a kid.”