Get your game face on at the Museum of Childhood

sore_loser_scrabble_246x151Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the opening of Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. This is an exhibition that will delight both the young and the young-at-heart. The nostalgic journey through games that were designed to both educate and entertain will certainly evoke memories: some good, some maybe not so good depending on whether you are a ‘sore loser’ or a ‘gloating winner’ (which a quiz at the end of the exhibition will help you to determine!). Alongside the old favourites like Trivial Pursuit and, of course, Monopoly, there are some lesser known historic games. For example, did you know that one of the oldest known board games, Senet, was played by the Ancient Egyptians?

The exhibition includes stunning early examples of some of our most treasured games and also shows the impact of the digital age. Why has there been such a resurgence in playing board games of late, that some of our much-loved video game characters, including Sonic the Hedgehog and Pac-Man, have been turned into cardboard? For Matt Leacock, the museum1creator of modern board game phenomenon, Pandemic, the answer lies in collaboration. Leacock, a former UX designer, and one of the speakers at the exhibition’s opening, had the idea for a game that would get people away from their computer screen and around a table to work as part of a team, rather than against one another. In the case of Pandemic, one of the games featured in the exhibition, players work together to prevent mankind being wiped out by disease. A morbid premise maybe, but the collaborative gaming concept has proved to be a best-seller.

If you manage to escapemuseum2 the exhibition’s very own Monopoly jail (yes, there is actually a jail!), and fancy challenging your loved ones, or even a complete stranger, to a game of Ludo, Snakes and Ladders or The Game of the Goose, there are tables set up ready for you to play, and games available to borrow inside the Museum, free of charge. Or, if you are a ‘distracted gamer’, lured away by the promise of a pint and a pie, here are a few local pubs that also offer a selection of board games:


The Approach Tavern

A cosy pub in a leafy area with a beer garden and extensive, if slightly pricier, menu.  There is a small art gallery upstairs and a quiz night every Tuesday.
47 Approach Rd, London E2 9LY

The Camel

A classic East London boozer, this pub is tucked out of the way on a back street. It boasts an impressive pie menu and a great selection of pleasingly
well-used board games. More importantly, you can buy Scampi Fries!
277 Globe Rd, London E2 0JD

The Old George

This pub is on Bethnal Green Road and so tends to be a bit busier, with a younger crowd. There are great spaces for larger groups though and it is possible to book a table.
379 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 0AN


Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered runs until April 23rd 2017 at the V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green. Entry is free.

Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9PA


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