By Chris M. Junior
If vinyl records have an underappreciated sibling over in the toy industry, it would be board games.
Just like cassettes, 8-tracks and CDs have all challenged (and, in some cases surpassed) records as the preferred physical format for recorded music, sleeker, faster and flashier game options (i.e., electronic) have often overshadowed those cardboard boxes of strategic fun.
But board games should never be forgotten or left for dead, especially when big-time rock ’n’ roll bands — such as the Grateful Dead — are involved.
Just like you’re ‘Playing In The Band’
Fans of Jerry Garcia and company will get a kick out of Grateful Dead-Opoly, the object of which is for players to circle the board acquiring Dead album-themed properties.
The game is the brainchild of music-industry veteran and longtime Grateful Dead associate Debbie Gold. When she came up with the idea for Grateful Dead-Opoly, Gold says the first thing she did was get in touch with Dead singer/guitarist Bob Weir to run the concept past him.
“I thought he would just laugh at me and it would be over,” she recalls. “But on the contrary, he said, ‘I love it,’ and he started coming up with ideas.”
Gold and Weir worked on the game over several meetings at the recording studio in Weir’s California home. She also enlisted the help of Dead roadie Steve Parish, and Dead drummer Mickey Hart stopped by during the development stage to contribute his thoughts.
Appropriately enough, the first time Gold played Grateful Dead-Opoly was with Weir at his house. She says the other living members of the band are pleased with the game.
“What’s cool is that you don’t have to know anything about the Grateful Dead to play the game,” Gold adds. “Kids love it, and so do indie-rock snobs who wouldn’t listen to the Dead if they had a gun to their heads.”
Released in late 2009 via Seattle-based Discovery Bay Games, Grateful Dead-Opoly features great artwork by comic book illustrator Timothy Truman. The game is available at Barnes & Noble stores; visit http://gratefuldeadopoly.com for more information.
The British Are Coming
Call it the British Invasion of board games: The Beatles and The Rolling Stones have their own versions of Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly, all of which are licensed by Hasbro and manufactured by USAopoly.
The Beatles:The Beatles Collector’s Edition Trivial Pursuit game contains 400-plus cards with more than 2,500 questions. The six “Fab” categories are Songs, Movies, History, On Their Own, Albums & Singles and The Beatles in America.
The Fab Four’s Collector’s Edition Monopoly game comes with six song-specific tokens (game pieces): “Here Comes the Sun,” “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “I Am the Walrus,” “Rocky Raccoon” and “Octopus’s Garden.” Fab Four and Beatlemania cards replace Chance and Community Chest cards, while custom Beatles money (renamed “Love”) takes the place of original Monopoly bills.
The Rolling Stones: Released in 2010, Trivial Pursuit: The Rolling Stones Collector’s Edition has six band-themed categories, which are Hot Rocks, Rewind, Rolled Gold, In Concert, Story of the Stones and No Stone Unturned. The game features more than 2,000 questions on 400 cards.
New in stores is Monopoly: The Rolling Stones Collector’s Edition. It has six collectible tokens/game pieces: a tour bus, a road case, a pair of tumbling dice, wild horses, a drum set and the band’s famous tongue-and-lips logo. Lyrics and Licks cards replace Chance and Community Chest, and custom Rolling Stones money takes the place of original Monopoly bills. For more information on these games, visit www.usaopoly.com.
Make room for The King and KISS
Elvis Presley fans can test their knowledge of the King of Rock ’n’ Roll by playing USAopoly’s Elvis Trivia Game: 75th Anniversary Collector’s Edition. Packaged in a collectible tin, the game features about 1,000 questions pertaining to Presley’s childhood, adult life and careers in music and film.
Blending classic board-game elements with a more modern touch is the Elvis Presley DVD Board Game from GDC-GameDevCo Ltd. in Toronto. The object of this game is to collect artifacts that match those on the Elvis cards and make it back to his Graceland mansion.
And then there’s KISS, a band that knows a thing or two about board games. (Anyone remember the KISS On Tour Game that was originally released in the late 1970s?) KISS also has its own GDC-produced DVD board game, and the objective is to become the leader of the KISS Army.
For more details on the Presley and KISS games from GDC-GameDevCo Ltd., visit http://gamedevco.net/.
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