They chose the dining room table. The one that, despite its name, only hosts cutlery and plates on rare occasions – wasn’t it the last time for New Year’s dinner? Less central than the living room, less cluttered than the kitchen, less sound than the veranda: of all the rooms in this solid brick building located an hour north of Paris, the dining room is undoubtedly the ideal place to an afternoon of games.
The long wooden table stands on the old parquet, while a sleeping piano is forgotten in a corner. The floral motif that adorns the tablecloth is interrupted, in the middle, by a desert island with shimmering colors. Nice game board, but undersized compared to the size of the sideboard: if they want to follow, the players seated at the ends will have to lean a bit. Cards have been placed on it, as well as two pawns: a goldfish and a blue drop.
A cooperative game, but not too much!
“At each turn, you will have to get food and water to survive”, summarizes Augustin, 25, one of the sons of the house, to the eight other players, members of three families linked in friendship by local scouting. “We each have an action and we have to complement each other. It’s a cooperative game. “
→ AROUND THE TABLE (4/5). Behind the scenes of the “Ségur de la santé”
“Cooperative… but not too much! “, nuance Marie, a neighbor in her fifties. In any case, this is what the box of this game with an impossible name promises – Galerapagos – that she, her husband Jean-Michel and their son Félix brought to help others discover it. Jean-Michel returns to the essential rules: “We will have to all leave the island before the storm that can occur anytime from the seventh round! If we haven’t built enough rafts for all the players, we will have to kill some of them. OK ? “
From the general hubbub come jokes of all kinds: “It’s Koh-Lanta your thing! “, “Taking a raft on a stormy day, do you think that is smart?” “, “The one we kill, can we at least eat it?” “… Even dissipated, novices in Galerapagos will have no trouble following the game. Learning new games is a well-established discipline in this small circle of friends where we offer it at the slightest opportunity, until having to reserve entire cupboards for their colored boxes.
A booming sector
Intermittent players, those who have remained with the now classic Jungle Speed (1996) and others Time’s Up! (1999), would be surprised. These pleasures of another millennium are relegated to the bottom of the pile, drowned in the plethora of offerings from a booming sector: strategy, role-playing and atmosphere games have multiplied in France for a decade, valiantly resisting competition from mobile applications and video games.
With the island decor of Galerapagos will succeed, moreover, later in the afternoon, a climate of spy film, with code names to guess (Code Names), then a magical environment, where everyone tries to remember their dream (When I Dream). Two sets of associations of ideas focusing on communication and minimal setup: a few cards and an hourglass.
But back to our imaginary island. It’s been less than half an hour since it colonized the dining room table and the situation is already critical. Three castaways were temporarily neutralized because they were bitten by a snake while going to look for wood (in reality, by blindly pulling balls from a jute sack). The fish stocks are dwindling (the red pawn goes down several squares per turn). And only one raft has been built so far (symbolized by a card placed face up in the center of the table).
“Do you play for yourself or for the team?” “
“We didn’t leave the island with broken arms like you! “, worries Jean-Michel at the end of the third round of play. The jovial atmosphere of the beginning gives way little by little to personal questioning, hardly malicious but all the same likely, in such circumstances, to reveal themselves. fatal …
→ AROUND THE TABLE (3/5). Supper of an ordinary Sunday in Saint-Malo
Alerted by Baptiste, 16, the players have just realized that Félix, of the same age, systematically abandons the chore of wood for the less perilous task of going to search the wreck – where there is no risk, at least, of cross the path of a snake. “Do you play for yourself or for the team?” “ he hears himself reproach, in a movement of denunciation that would turn into a fist if it were not punctuated by loud bursts of laughter.
As for Charles, Augustin’s twin brother, he refuses to give the group the benefit of the card ” gift basket “ that he drew and which could temporarily satiate them all, believing that “Anyway, we will never be able to leave every nine”. “I bet on everyone’s death”, he prophesies, not without panache, when Mary brandishes the card against him “Revolver” that she had hitherto kept hidden.
The strange power of play
Once the scapegoat is eliminated, the survivors stick together. Waste of time: The dreaded storm erupts earlier than expected and the eight remaining players have only three rafts – to which Emma, a medical student, added a place in extremis thanks to a card that fell from the sky. While she demands the group’s thanks, Stéphane, her father, corrects by teasing her: “It didn’t cost you anything, this card, let’s be honest …”
Disdainful cheeks and cries of orchard get the better of the patience of Isabelle, the hostess, who sees fit to remind you from time to time that ” It’s a game “, while circling around the table with a carafe of apple juice. The crowded players barely pay attention to the rhubarb pie and the box of chocolates that have started circulating among them we don’t know when.
→ READ. Holidays, the puzzle for teens
Free and free activity par excellence, doesn’t the game have the strange power of extracting its followers from everyday life by plunging them into another space-time? This is what the main theorists of the ludic thing have developed. One of them, Johan Huizinga, even establishes in his reference work Homo ludens (1938) a direct link between play and culture, arguing that the latter is deployed, in its primitive phase, “In the game and as a game”.
Six people for four places on the rafts
Marie is far from these considerations when she eliminates Augustine, the second twin. A gesture that ends up turning against her when, a few moments later, a unanimous vote decides on her sacrificial death. Six more people at stake and only four places on the rafts …
In a spectacular turnaround, Emma takes advantage of her turn – and two revolver cartridges – to seal the fate of the team. “I kill Felix who played selfishly (his careful visits to the wreck were decidedly unhappy) and, with my second bullet, I kill Jean-Michel ”, she announces triumphantly. She, her parents and her younger brother Baptiste will be the four survivors of this eventful afternoon. Family victory for a game after all moderately “Cooperative”.
→ AROUND THE TABLE (2/5). “This dish suits us”: the risotto for lovers
A good three hours later, the dining room table is still not cleared. Are we at four, five games of various games? The day has fallen, the television is on in the next room, dinner is being prepared. And four stubborn people are still arguing for a part of Smash Up, card game with rules as subtle as they are complicated.
Baptiste is soon forced to recognize Augustine’s victory. “I’m disgusted, I played too badly. This part was so winnable… ” Patience: sooner or later the day of revenge will come.