Growing up, my best buddy Mike and I were game fanatics. Every weekend, we would spend our days playing Sorry, Stratego, The Game of Life, Parcheesi, Battleship, Risk, Mancala, Chess, Checkers, Backgammon, etc. When we had exhausted all the board game options, we would crack open our battered addition of “According to Hoyle,” learn the rules to some archaic card game of yore, and then play that for a few weeks. One of our all-time favorite games, of course, was Monopoly, that real estate simulation dating back to 1903, when progressive Elizabeth Magie set out to explore the dual philosophies of wealth sharing and wealth hoarding. Interestingly, Magie created two sets of rules: an anti-monopolist set in which all were rewarded when wealth was created, and a monopolist set, in which the goal was to create monopolies and crush opponents. Her vision was to embrace this dualism and to let players think about the complexities of being human in the modern world – although in the end, of course, only the monopolist set captured the public’s imagination. Mike and I didn’t know any of this history, of course. (This was back in the the long-ago pre-internet era!) We just liked playing the game and fiddling with the rules. One of our many innovations included taking two boards and overlapping the “Free Parking” spaces, so that we now had a double Monopoly Board in the shape of a figure eight (with double the money, of course). Suffice it to say that our games would last a good long while, much to the consternation of our homework-focused parents.

Years and years later, as luck would have it, I’m walking around downtown San Jose, CA, scouting out a new Dr. Clue Treasure Hunt, when I stumble across a giant Monopoly board! As it turns out, this supersized Monopoly in Discovery Meadow, near the Children’s Museum, holds the Guinness World record for the largest in the world! At 960 square feet, the board is certainly HUGE…and a great photo op. But to actually play a game here, you need to rent it for $300! Needless to say, I settle for the photo and text it to my buddy Mike. It’s definitely a Wow place for me, not only for the novelty of a giant board game existing, unexpectedly, in an urban setting like downtown San Jose, but also for the nostalgia. I find my mind wandering back to those long, carefree afternoon’s at Mike’s house, debating what game (or games) would dominate our upcoming weekend. Those were the days, huh?

(Aristotle once wrote, “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.” It’s probably no surprise that a childhood of playing games would lead me, as an adult, to create a treasure hunt team-building game as a career. What activities did you enjoy doing as a kid? Does your current occupation contain any echoes of your childhood interests? If not, what old hobbies can you recall and revive from your youth and integrate into your current life. I’m guessing you’ll be surprised at how old interests shape you, and how their fascination never really dies.)