7 Board Games That Probably Weren't Appropriate for Kids

Board games are a time-honored tradition for kids of all generations to enjoy, and parents depend on them to keep their young ones in check for at least a few minutes at a time. Some competitive games have the added benefit of being educational, too. But then there are those few that, while popular or memorable, don't seem like they should be a part of shaping young minds. Here's a look at seven games that are probably best left on the toy store shelves.

1. Busting balls?

The soft-spoken narrator of "Ball Buster" appears to be in on the joke. It comes from a different era, before double entendres lost their subtlety. This promises to be "a family game" that can be played with kids or without them. The mother winks at the audience upon busting her husband's balls.

2. Snot a Good Idea

What kid doesn't love a good booger, right? Playing this Dutch game is likely to have kids reaching deep inside their noses trying to pull out sticks of snot like they found inside of the disembodied head of "Snotty Snotter." Some children love to search for gold inside their nostrils, and this game capitalizes on the curiosity and anticipation that kids exhibit. But it's not the best lesson for them to learn at an early age if parents wish to ever begin to stamp out the nosepicking.

3. Playing with Poo

Giving your dog a tasty treat sounds like something valuable and humane. But in "Doggie Doo," the goal is not to satisfy the pooch—it's to get the mutt to pass it on the other side. "You win by collecting the doggie's doo," the commercial excitedly professes. One kid in the ad seems to realize what a bad idea this is; he holds his nose and braces for the stench.

4. Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Another flashback to a different time reveals some misguided and questionable tactics to keep your kids entertained. "Pie Face" is exactly what it sounds like: a guillotine-like structure that requires children to stick their faces inside of a cardboard outline and prepare to get splattered with a pie. "Get your face full of goo," the ad boldly says. A decade later, children hoped to avoid being "Swacked!" when they looked to remove small pieces of cheese from the gameboard.

5. Beware of Sharks

The imagery in the commercial for "Shark Attack" should come with a PG-13 rating as rowers try to steer clear of the incoming shark looking to ravage them and their boats. Even cruiselines aren't safe from the gigantic "maniac" on their tails: "It's coming to get you." The last survivor will win the game, but everyone might go home with nightmares and a fear of ever going into the nearest ocean.

6. Pig's Delight

Feed this pig a few burgers, then pump his head and hope he doesn't "go pop." His growing belly can only ward off so much indigestion before he absolutely blows. For those who revel in giving animals food they shouldn't be eating, the game "Pig Goes Pop" is a riot. However, some parents may not want to encourage their kids to participate in this kind of terrorizing behavior. Thankfully, the game doesn't lead to a massive mess full of pig guts and fluids (though that's what the ad seems to imply).

7. Bedbugs Everywhere

It's every parent and New York City resident's worst fear: bedbugs. But the notion of the cost and effort it takes to rid your furniture of these oft-returning pests is lost on tykes. They instead view bedbugs as something they're lightheartedly warned about when being tucked into bed, and in the "BedBugs" game, the little and speedy bugs are a source of amusement. Who can catch the most? The real winner might actually hope to finish last.

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Kena Betancur, AFP/Getty Images
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Health
Want to Live as Long as an Olympian? Become a Chess Grandmaster
Kena Betancur, AFP/Getty Images
Kena Betancur, AFP/Getty Images

It’s well known that physical fitness can help prolong your life, so it’s not surprising that elite athletes, like Olympians, tend to have longer lifespans than your average couch potato. But it seems that “mind sports” can help keep you alive longer, too. According to BPS Research Digest, a recent study suggests that international chess grandmasters have lifespans comparable to Olympic athletes.

The study, published in PLOS ONE, examined the survival rates of 1208 mostly male chess grandmasters and 15,157 Olympic medalists from 28 countries, and analyzed their life expectancy at 30 years and 60 years after they attained their grandmaster titles. They found that both grandmasters and Olympic medalists exhibited significant lifespan advantages over the general population. In fact, there was no statistical difference between the relative survival rates of chess champions and athletic champions.

There are several variables that the study couldn’t take into account that may be linked to chess players’ long lifespans, though. Grandmasters often employ nutritionists and physical trainers to keep them at their best, according to the researchers, and exercise regularly. Economic and social status can also influence lifespans, and becoming a world-champion chess player likely results in a boost in both areas.

Some research has shown that keeping your mind sharp can help you in old age. Certain kinds of brain training might lower the risk of developing dementia, and one study found that board game players in particular have slightly lower rates of dementia.

If keeping the mind sharp with chess really does extend lifespans, the same effect might apply as well to elite players of other “mind sports,” like Go, poker, or competitive video games. We’ll need more research to find out.

[h/t BPS Research Digest]

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David Franzen, Library of Congress
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architecture
You Can Thank 1950s Suburban Architecture for ‘The Floor Is Lava’
David Franzen, Library of Congress
David Franzen, Library of Congress

No one knows who, exactly, was the first kid to play "The Floor Is Lava," the simple childhood game that has only one rule: You can’t touch the floor. But as Quartz reports, a new paper contends that the game wouldn't have come about if it weren’t for the rise of American suburbs.

Published in the Social Science Research Network, the analysis by Tim Hwang of the MIT Media Laboratory argues that architecture was a vital factor in the spread of the folk game.

In the new suburban housing developments of postwar America, builders began to market the relatively new idea of the family room, an informal room designed for the social needs of the whole family. This room was separate from the formal living room and dining room, both of which were more likely to contain the inhabitants’ good furniture and fancy china. In building plans popular in the 1950s and 1960s, they were also set apart from the kitchen. One 1965 poll found that seven of 10 new houses built that year contained a family room.

And these factors, Hwang argues, are integral to playing The Floor is Lava. Family rooms provide big couches, coffee tables, and other furniture that kids can move around, climb on, and use as props for the game. Bedrooms would be too small, and formal living and dining rooms too full of potentially fragile items that Mom and Dad would be livid to find disturbed. And kitchens were seen as a mother’s domain, meaning that she would likely be there to put a stop to any shenanigans.

"What is unique about the family room space is both the quantity of space and permission that it affords to the play of The Floor is Lava,” Hwang writes.

However, this is just a hypothesis, and no one can really identify who started playing the game first. Kids in urban apartments can also theoretically jump all over their parents’ living room furniture, if allowed. During my childhood, the game typically took place on a playground rather than inside, requiring players to avoid the ground rather than the family room floor. There are games that originated elsewhere in the world that also revolve around avoiding the floor—Hwang notes examples from Kenya and the UK. But given how the spread of suburbs in the U.S. during the postwar period affected home design, it makes sense that a game might arise from the new spaces children lived in. We may never truly know how The Floor Is Lava was invented, but architecture seems like a good clue.

[h/t Quartz]

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