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Kate Erbland

20 Board Games Based on ’70s and ’80s TV Shows

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Kate Erbland

Better than trading cards, less useful than a lunchbox, and perfect for weekend collecting, there are a staggering number of board games based on classic television shows from the ‘70s and ‘80s still knocking around. Here are 20 of the very best. 

1. Happy Days

An almost totally Fonzie-focused endeavor, the entire aim of the Happy Days game is to collect enough “cool points” to impress the Fonz. Along the way, points are tallied by lighting up Arnold’s jukebox and time passes by finding “sumthin’ to do.”

2. Cheers

How’s your Cheers knowledge pool? Not too deep? Don’t worry, you can almost wing it with this trivia-based game—if you pay enough attention to hints about how the various bar occupants acted on the show, which pepper gameplay. Watch out for “Normie’s Olympics,” though, a mini-game that uses the sort of skills that only a drunk dude could master (it involves both balance and total carelessness).

3. Barney Miller

The Barney Miller board game has a few surprises up its cardboard sleeves—no one gets to play the eponymous cop and it’s essentially a bettor’s version of the match game. Is this how cops actually do their job? Perhaps—at least on television.

4. Knight Rider

This “high speed adventure game” doesn’t come with a tiny David Hasselhoff cutout, but it does require players to travel an admittedly “never-ending road” without getting hijacked. Clear “Trouble Spots” and hope that your robot car doesn’t get stolen—something you’d think K.I.T.T. would be far too clever to allow anyway.

5. The Fall Guy

A shockingly simple spin on the classic television show that asks players to accomplish exactly what star Lee Majors did in the popular series—complete dangerous movie stunts and capture bail jumpers. Sadly, the box doesn’t play the Majors-trilled theme song upon opening, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bust out with your own version.

6. The A Team

We pity the fool who doesn’t feel instantly compelled to play the board game version of The A Team once they hear what it’s about. Curiously focused on a mission to retrieve a stolen soda recipe from an evil band of apparently very weird baddies, the goofy action of the classic show is in full effect in this one-dimensional quest.

7. Welcome Back, Kotter

Intent on capitalizing on its trademark “up your nose with a rubber hose” tagline, the Welcome Back, Kotter game is entirely centered on said hose. The aim of the game is to use cards to spell out the entire phrase, and the “winner” ultimately gets a small piece of, you guessed it, rubber hose to celebrate their victory.

8. CHiPS

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It would be pretty unsafe to attempt to replicate the highway hijinks of CHiPS the show, so this board game will have to suffice. Each player takes on the role of a motorcycle cop, bound for the sort of glory that will only come after capturing no less than four vehicular baddies and sticking to the rules of the road. And, no, the speeding criminals don’t need to obey any traffic laws, leading to some seriously rough road ahead.

9. The Bionic Woman

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Aimed at the younger set, The Bionic Woman game is relatively straightforward—cards dole out assignments and points, dice rolls determine board movement. There are no bionic limb-shaped game pieces and the board design is weirdly reminiscent of “Candy Land.” Perfect for the Lindsay Wagner-obsessed child in your life.

10. Alf

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Sticking charmingly close to the dramas of the original show (yes, there were dramas in a show about a foul-mouthed alien), the Alf board game sees players taking on the mantle of the furry beast from Melmac and moving through the Tanner house, all in pursuit of a tasty feline treat. Running from the ALFs and their hungry bellies? Cat owner Mrs. Ochmonek, desperate to keep kitty Lucky from being, well, not so lucky.

11. Columbo

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A surefire disappointment for fans of the curmudgeonly detective, Milton Bradley simply repurposed and repackaged their “Why” game to suit the television show. Fans of Alfred Hitchcock should be pleased with the game, though, as the murder mystery “Why” was originally branded as his own brainchild.

12. Family Ties

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Casting players as one of the beloved Keaton clan is a classy move—and smart enough to ensure that no one flips out at the complicated game play. The aim is to gather one hundred bucks and for every member of the family (not you, Skippy!) to sit for a family portrait. It’s not easy, what with all the Keatons constantly flitting off in different directions, but if you can get all the Keaton family pawns together at once, the result could just be picture perfect.

13. Charlie’s Angels

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Requiring teamwork to conclude, the Charlie’s Angels board game not only provides valuable life lessons, but it also draws upon some of the big themes of the show. Charlie dispatches his three beauties to take down a baddie, and all must use their own skills and work together to effectively trap a villain. It looks good!

14. The Six Million Dollar Man

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An inventive spin on the show, The Six Million Dollar Man game casts all its players as the powerful Steve Austin—sort of. The point of the game is to prove, by way of handily accomplished assignments that increase your strength, that you're the real Six Million Dollar Man. Or at least the player to navigate around the board first.

15. All in the Family

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A great way to bring your family closer together—or rip them irrevocably apart—the All in the Family board game requires one player to read off queries from the provided answer book, with everyone else answering via written response, leading to a guessing match as to who said what. For fun, “responses” from Archie and Edith are included, and players can guess about those, too. Learn about how different you are from the rest of your family with one handy game!

16. Archie Bunker’s Card Game

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If you are an All in the Family fan who doesn’t want to start World War III with a simple board game, Archie Bunker’s Card Game offers up some more relaxed entertainment. A complicated combination of suits, tricks, and even a “Ding Bat Tally” wheel, it’s fun for (most of?) the whole family!

17. The Dukes of Hazzard

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Hopefully no one will be shocked to learn that The Dukes of Hazzard board game is a wild road race that asks players to decide between going the safe way (the highway) or tearing it up on backcountry roads. Players can throw some wrenches into the plans of their competitors by way of roadblocks and bumper slams. Sure, it’s not safe, but it is just a game.

18. Kojak

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A classic “roll and move” game sets players up as competing detectives, all bent on making the most criminal collars of four big cases. Relatively simple, sure, but few other games could make “move your car into the correct car park for a surveillance operation” sound quite so fun.

19. Fantasy Island

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While a tiny plane is not included, the Fantasy Island game comes packed with various fantasies (obviously) for players to indulge in. Of course, those fantasies don’t always play out in the most pleasurable of manners, but if you can collect enough kisses, adventures, and cash and get to the main house first, you can win (at least for that week and until another batch of clients hit the beach).

20. Mork & Mindy

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Amusingly styled as an Orkan game, the Mork & Mindy game is packed with all sorts of fun alien words and rules. Sure, it may seem a bit “out of this world” (tee hee) at first, but it’s really just a classic dice rolling game with funny rules to gussy it up.

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Dungeons & Dragons Gets a Digital Makeover
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Since the 1970s, players have been constructing elaborate campaigns in Dungeons & Dragons using nothing but paper, pencils, rule books, and 20-sided dice. That simple formula has made D&D the quintessential role-playing game, but the game's publisher thinks it can be improved with a few 21st-century updates. As The Verge reports, Wizards of the Coast is launching a digital toolset meant to enhance the gaming experience.

The tool, called D&D Beyond, isn’t meant to be a replacement for face-to-face gameplay. Rather, it’s designed to save players time and energy that could be better spent developing characters or battling orcs. The resource includes a fifth-edition rule book users can search by keyword. At the start of a new campaign, they can build monsters and characters within the program. And players don’t need to worry about forgetting to bring their notes to a quest—D&D Beyond keeps track of information like items and spells in one convenient location.

"D&D Beyond speaks to the way gamers are able to blend digital tools with the fun of storytelling around the table with your friends,” Nathan Stewart, senior director of Dungeons & Dragons, said in a statement when the concept was first announced. "These tools represent a way forward for D&D.”

This isn’t the first attempt to bring D&D into the digital age; videogames inspired by the fictional world have been produced since the 1980s. Unlike those titles, though, D&D Beyond will still highlight the imagination-fueled role-playing aspect of the game when it launches August 15.

[h/t The Verge]

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Pop Culture
Can You Spot Fake News? A New Game Puts Your Knowledge to the Test
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In 2017, misinformation is easier than ever to access. During the 2016 election, scammers—including hordes of Macedonian teens—raked in serious money by churning out deliberately fake stories about U.S. politics, with a very real impact. In a December 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 64 percent of U.S. adults said that fabricated news was sowing "a great deal of confusion" about current events.

It can be hard to determine what’s real and what’s fake in the viral news world. A new game—expected to launch for iPhone on July 10—will test your skills. Fake News, designed by the creative agency ISL, asks players to distinguish between headlines found on true stories and headlines drawn from fake news sites (as determined by fact-checking sites like Snopes, Politifact, FactCheck.org).

The simple, arcade-style game for iPhone asks you to swipe left on fake headlines and swipe right on true ones. You have 100 seconds to sort through as many headlines as you can, competing for the highest score with other users. For instance, did Arby’s really get its name because “RB” is another way of saying roast beef? (No, RB stands for Raffel Brothers, the founders.) Does Jeff Goldblum really have a food truck named Chef Goldblum’s? (Kind of. It was a film promotion stunt.)

Fake News also exists as a physical arcade game. The creators installed a table-top arcade game in a D.C. bar on July 5, and may install it elsewhere depending on demand.

The game is harder than you’d expect, even if you think of yourself as fairly well-informed. As research has found, viral stories require two things: limited attention spans and a network already overwhelmed with information. In other words, our daily Internet lives. The more information we try to handle at one time, the more likely it is that we’ll fall for fake news.

Scientists found in a recent study that warning people that political groups try to spread misinformation about certain issues (like climate change) can help people sort through dubious claims. While that’s good to remember, it’s not always useful in real-life situations. It certainly won’t help you win this game.

One of the reasons Fake News is so hard, even if you keep abreast of everyday news, is that it doesn’t tell you where the headlines are from. Checking the source is often the easiest way to determine the veracity of a story—although it’s not a foolproof system.

Need help finding those sources? This Chrome plug-in will flag news from troublesome sources in your Facebook feed.

Update: The game is available for iOS here.

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