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14 Justifiably Forgotten Milton Bradley Board Games

Aside from Parker Brothers, few board game manufacturers have come close to Milton Bradley's track record: Millions of players across multiple generations have put in serious time playing Twister, Yahtzee, The Game of Life, and Battleship.

But while games like Simon and Connect Four have kept up brand appearances over the decades, it’s possible that founder Milton Bradley (who died in 1911) might have flinched at some of the other titles that bear his name. The next time you arrange a game night, it’s probably best to keep these in the closet.

1. TOWN DUMP (1977)

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It’s never too early to get a child used to playing with garbage. In this game, two players take turns winding up a miniature bulldozer that propels itself through pieces of trash and pushes them out of the way. The object appears to be to clear waste out of your dump and into your rival’s property, which imparts a valuable lesson: Let your discarded trash become someone else’s problem.

2. BREAKER 19: THE CB TRUCKERS GAME (1976)

What could be a better premise for a game than '70s-era long-haul truckers who gobbled caffeine pills and forged driving logs so they could remain on the road for dangerously long periods of time? Players begin at a warehouse and draw cards to see what kind of cargo—live animals, eggs, office furniture—they need to deliver before a deadline; CB cards can either help or hinder the job. Upon completion, they return to the warehouse to collect their pay and kiss their families goodbye for another two weeks.

3. A DAY WITH ZIGGY (1977)

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In a medium full of bland, inoffensive content, Ziggy might be the blandest, most inert comic strip of them all. The pimple-shaped, pants-less sad sack first appeared in 1971 and garnered enough notoriety for licensed products. Like the strip, the game is unburdened by any complications or ideas; players simply roll the dice and move forward or backward the appropriate number of spaces.

4. FEELEY MEELEY (1967)

With the success of Twister in 1966, Milton Bradley quickly caught on to the potential for party games. In Feeley Meeley, players are asked to draw a card describing an item and then fumble around in a dark box to see if they can retrieve it. While the game came with props like small forks and plastic animals, it also encouraged players to add their own. For households with cruel siblings, it’s hard to imagine that didn’t sometimes include bugs.

5. NO RESPECT: RODNEY DANGERFIELD’S GAME (1985)

Self-respect, not phony money, was the currency for this game based on the stand-up act of comedian Rodney Dangerfield. While collecting game tiles, players are advised not to "count on winning ’til you’ve won.” A sample of Dangerfield’s jokes (“As a kid … my yo-yo never came back”) are included inside the box.

6. LET’S BE SAFE (1986)

When it’s time to put away homework and settle in for some recreational time with a board game, the first thing kids look for is something with a lecture. Let’s be Safe disguises itself as a fun diversion, but before children realize what’s happening, the game is cleverly imparting lessons about street-crossing safety and stranger danger; the first player who makes it home in one piece wins. Television news anchor Joan Lunden acts as the game’s mascot.  

7. STUFF YER FACE (1982)

A variation on their own Hungry Hungry Hippos, Stuff Yer Face features two warring clowns in a race to see who can inhale the most marbles. The ravenous circus employees are controlled by two joysticks that position their hands on the playing field; a clown caught eating one of the red marbles loses. Experienced players can try to hurl the forbidden orbs into the opposing clown’s mouth.

8. SQUATTER (1962)

Some board games turn up the tension so high you practically sweat through your clothes. Squatter, an Australian import which brings home the high-stakes world of sheep-herding, is probably not one of them. Players take turns corralling sheep through buying and selling tactics: The first to wrangle 6000 pieces of wool-encased inventory is the winner—but land on the wrong square and your "stud ram" may fall victim to plant poisoning, plummeting the population.

9. DURAN DURAN: INTO THE ARENA (1985)

Thrust into the pop culture limelight by MTV in the 1980s, Duran Duran made the most of their licensing opportunities. Shoulder-padded fans could jam to “Hungry Like the Wolf” while playing this game, in which they tried to match single titles with music videos to gain entry into the “inner circle.”  

10. LOBBY: A CAPITAL GAME (1949)

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“Here’s your chance to be a congressman! You can pass all your favorite bills and lobby against those you oppose.” Milton Bradley felt confident a game of governmental regulations and lobbying would be a hit with anyone “old enough to read a newspaper.”

11. DO THE URKEL! (1991)

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Only Duran Duran’s neon-geometry game board could appear more dated. Do the Urkel! focused on the Fonzie of Family Matters, Steve Urkel. In the game, players roll dice and perform an action based on a card: snorting, hiking up their pants, or, in a worst-case scenario, doing “the Urkel” by wearing glasses and making a cardboard Jaleel White dance on the board.  

12. BIG FOOT (1977)

The mythical woodland creature experienced a considerable amount of attention in the 1970s, including a memorable encounter with Steve Austin on The Six Million-Dollar Man. (Andre the Giant was cast in the fur suit.) A famous and non-copyrightable beast made a perfect premise for a game in which players assumed the roles of Alaskan gold prospectors who roll dice while trying to avoid the “footprints” made by the monster. Although Bigfoot looks affable enough on the game box, his plastic game piece appears to be anything but.

13. WHERE’S THE BEEF? (1984)

Advertising character fads tend to implode at a moment’s notice, so it’s probably not shocking that a board game based on a commercial catchphrase was destined for yard sales. Based on the Wendy’s campaign that had actress Clara Peller asking “Where’s the beef?” while in line for the competition’s burgers, this game has players jetting around tiles and collecting slices of ground meat.  

14. TETRIS (1989)

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Considering the tangled knot of licensing issues surrounding Tetris in the 1980s, it’s a wonder Milton Bradley was able to issue this analog version of the classic Game Boy title. The larger question is why they would want to. Two players try to arrange Tetris pieces from the bottom up before time expires; pieces can also be tossed in the opponent’s direction. Alternately, you can toss the entire thing out. Then everyone wins.

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Why the Soundtracks to Games Like 'Mario' or 'The Sims' Can Help You Work
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When I sat down to write this article, I was feeling a little distracted. My desk salad was calling me. I had new emails in my inbox to read. I had three different articles on my to-do list, and I couldn't decide which to start first. And then, I jumped over to Spotify and hit play on the theme to The Sims. As I listened to the upbeat, fast-paced, wordless music, my writing became faster and more fluid. I felt more “in the zone,” so to speak, than I had all morning. There's a perfectly good explanation: Video games provide the ideal productivity soundtrack. At Popular Science, Sara Chodosh explains why video game music can get you motivated and keep you focused while you work, especially if you're doing relatively menial tasks. It's baked into their composition.

There are several reasons to choose video game music over your favorite pop album. For one, they tend not to have lyrics. A 2012 study of more than 100 people found that playing background music with lyrics tended to distract participants while studying. The research suggested that lyric-less music would be more conducive to attention and performance in the workplace. Another study conducted in open-plan offices in Finland found that people were better at proofreading if there was some kind of continuous, speechless noise going on in the background. Video game music would fit that bill.

Plus, video game music is specifically made not to distract from the task at hand. The songs are meant to be listened to over and over again, fading into the background as you navigate Mario through the Mushroom Kingdom or help Link save Zelda. My friend Josie Brechner, a composer who has scored the music for video games like the recently released Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King, says that game music is definitely written with this in mind.

"Basically, successful video game music straddles the balance between being engaging and exciting, but also not wanting to make you tear your ears off after the 10th or 100th listen," Brechner says. Game music often has a lot of repetition, along with variation on musical themes, to keep the player engaged but still focused on what they're playing, "and that translates well to doing other work that requires focus and concentration."

If you're a particularly high-strung worker, you might want to tune into some relaxing classical music or turn on a song specifically designed to calm you. But if you want to finish those expense reports on a Monday morning, you're better off choosing a fast-tempo ditty designed for seemingly pointless activities like making your Sims eat and go to the toilet regularly. (It can help you with more exciting work responsibilities, too: Other research has found that moderate background noise can increase performance on creative tasks.)

These types of songs work so well that there are entire playlists online devoted just to songs from video game soundtracks that work well for studying. One, for instance, includes songs written for The Legend of Zelda, Skyrim, Super Smash Bros., and other popular games.

The effect of certain theme songs on your productivity may, however, depend on your particular preferences. A 2010 study of elementary school students found that while calming music could improve performance on math and memory tests, music perceived as aggressive or unpleasant distracted them. I was distracted by the deep-voiced chanting of the "Dragonborn Theme" from Skyrim, but felt charged up by the theme from Street Fighter II. There's plenty of variety in video game scores—after all, a battle scene doesn't call for the same type of music as a puzzle game. Not all of them are going to work for you, but by their nature, you probably don't need a lot of variation in your work music if you're using video game soundtracks. If you can play a game for days on end, you can surely listen to the same game soundtrack over and over again.

[h/t Popular Science]

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This Augmented-Reality App Makes the Hospital Experience Less Scary for Kids
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Staying in a hospital can be a scary experience for kids, but a little distraction can make it less stressful. According to studies conducted by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, UK, distracted patients have an easier time with their appointments and require less pain medication. Now, Co.Design reports that the hospital is releasing its own app designed to keep children entertained—and calm—from the moment they check in.

The Android and iOS app, called Alder Play, was designed by ustwo, the makers of the wildly popular smartphone game Monument Valley and the stress relief tool Pause. Patients can download the app before they arrive at the hospital, choosing a virtual animal buddy to guide them through their stay. Then, once they check into the hospital, their furry companion shows them around the facility using augmented-reality technology.

The app features plenty of fun scavenger hunts and other games for kids to play during their downtime, but its most important features are designed to coach young patients through treatments. Short videos walk them through procedures like blood tests so that when the time comes, the situation will feel less intimidating. And for each step in the hospitalization process, from body scans to gown changes, doctors can give kids virtual stickers to reward them for following directions or just being brave. There’s also an AI chatbot (powered by IBM’s Watson) available to answer any questions kids or their parents might have about the hospital.

The app is very new, and Alder Hey is still assessing whether or not it's changing their young hospital guests’ experiences for the better. If the game is successful, children's hospitals around the world may consider developing exclusive apps of their own.

[h/t Co.Design]

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