Top 6 Old-School Board Games Your Little Geeks Will Love

Operation 2If you want a good old-fashioned geeky-family-bonding experience, look no further than the top shelf of your closet, where you keep your old-school board games. Not only are these super fun in a nostalgic way, but they’re also truly great games that have a few life lessons in store for your kiddos.

Yes, I know there are a ton of smartphone game apps out there that are fun, instructive and can even be played with other people, but nothing rivals those cardboard game boards of old.

So if you’re looking for something to do on a cold night or rainy afternoon (or heck, even when it’s sunny!), clear those dust bunnies from the back of your cupboard and pull down some board game goodness!

Wondering which of the many, many, MANY games you should play? Here’s a look at my top faves from yesteryear and why I think they’re still totally relevant today.

Top 6 Old School Board Games to Share With Your Kid

6. Guess Who

Guess WhoYou remember…:

You have a game board covered in portraits of random caricatures that can flip over onto their faces and you’re given the task of narrowing your options down to find out who your opponent is hiding!

There was never any explicit reason for the manhunt (or womanhunt!), but I always liked to imagine I was trying to catch a serial killer and I was grilling an eye witness about what the suspect looked like.

But maaaaybe that’s just me…

Why you should play:

First of all, like every game on this list, Guess Who is still totally fun! There’s been an updated version in recent years, too, so you have your choice of the old, familiar characters (suspects) or brand new versions.

But the real reason you should play is that this game is great for very young geeks. It enhances cognitive function and teaches the principles of deduction.

Even if you don’t want your little geek to grow up into a Sherlock Holmes (which of course you do), the art of deduction is a benefit to the development of your tyke’s psychology.

Crave it? GET IT!

5. Simon

SimonYou remember…:

Oh, boy, this little fella was the prize of my possessions and the envy of all my friends. (My wife had one, too, but it’s called Einstein… I’m not sure which of them is the poor man’s version yet, because frankly, both are flippin’ awesome).

Simon (or Einstein) plays you a sequence of colors/lights/sounds and you have to repeat that sequence using the buttons on the machine. Naturally, it starts off nice and easy and gets longer, faster, and more complicated until you reach the point where you’re physically incapable of stopping yourself from screaming like a wounded gorilla and throwing Simon against the wall.

That’s why I always positioned myself so that Simon would bounce harmlessly off a well-placed pillow.

Why you should play:

Ohhhhh, man, this one still gets me going. I just played Einstein (which, man, I STILL don’t know if it’s the knock-off or if Simon is…) and it got so intense that I had actually stopped breathing for almost a full minute during gameplay. Talk about fun!

But Simon/Einstein is good for much more than just stopping your little geek’s breath (don’t worry, I’m probably an anomaly)–it’s also an excellent tool for developing and exercising short-term memory.

And if the American public education system is the same in the future as it is now, your little geek’s grades will probably be wholly dependent on their short-term memories. (But that’s a rant for another day…)

Crave it? GET IT!

4. Operation

OperationWhat it is:

I don’t need to reintroduce this one to you, do I? You HAVE to remember Operation!

The objective, you MUST remember, is to use metal tweezers to extract items from the body cavity of a wide-eyed alcoholic patient (well, the red nose, right?). If you can remove the wish bone, spare ribs, funny bone, broken heart, and other organs, bones, and random detritus without touching the sides of the poor drunk’s open wounds, then you win!

You’ve GOT to remember that, right?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Why you should play:

(Well, certainly not to teach your little geeks about human anatomy…)

Operation is a great game on many levels. One, it teaches very precise hand-eye coordination. Two, it teaches one to stay calm in the face of pressure. And three, it teaches the sacred-yet-subtle art of jump-scaring your friend or relative into losing his or her turn.


Crave it? GET IT!

3. Monopoly

MonopolyYou remember…:

Oh, now this just getting silly. Of course you remember Monopoly. You might even still play it. That is, if you have an extra seven hours to kill…

Why you should play:

While the modern economy doesn’t exactly reflect the values of this…less face it…antiquated Parker Brothers game (luxury tax? really?), it is a great way to introduce and develop your little geek’s grasp of how money works.

Monopoly teaches you the value of saving, the basics of negotiation, and that all you need to do to get out of prison is roll a “snake eyes.”

Okay, maybe not that last one…

Crave it? GET IT!

2. Twister

TwisterWhat it is:

I can tell you what it was: the first and only time I had the opportunity to get close enough to my eighth grade crush to smell the intoxicating aroma of her shampoo. Which, now that I’m thinking about it, is kinda creepy…

Scratch that last bit.

Twister is a game of contortion and manners. You have to somehow put your right foot on red, with your left foot on yellow, and bring your left hand over to green, while you– OH, CRAP, I’M FALLING! AND I’M TAKING YOU ALL WITH ME!

Why you should play:

If Operation is great for hand-eye coordination, Twister is amazing for full-body balance. It’s a physical game that can show you just how far the body will go to appease your need to stick an appendage on a color.

Also, because Sally McGrath’s hair smells like peaches.

Crave it? GET IT!

1. Chess

ChessYou remember…:

I’m going to take a wild guess that you weren’t around when this game first came out…considering it’s been played in one form or another since the 6th century. But if you’re the geek I know you are, you sure spent some time with chess while growing up, either with your friends, your family, or your best non-human friend: the Apple II.

Why you should play:

The question ought to read: why shouldn’t you play? And the answer is: NO REASON.

This is an incredibly absorbing game of strategy and wits. It teaches spatial relations, mathematics, procedural planning, and even the ability to think outside the box.

Some of the smartest, most creative and successful people in history were chess players: John Quincy Adams, Isaac Asimov, Beethoven, Salvador Dali and Elizabeth II, just to name a few! Check out this nice big list of tons of others.

I’m not saying your little geeks will grow up to be world leaders or famous painters if they get chess-happy…. But I’m not saying they won’t, either…

Crave it? GET IT!

Do you remember playing/loving these games? Do you STILL play them like I do? What’s your favorite old-school board game not on this list? 

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About Peter Diseth

Geek-tician and Sci-Fi-nancier, Peter has been honing his research for Geeks Raising Geeks for better than three decades. He makes a living creating web content for individuals and businesses, both local and international. He's also a veteran actor of stage and screen, and doing this makes "making a living" worthwhile. Peter is also the sole creator of (a satirical news blog in the vein of The Onion) and a once-contributor to WhatCulture.

Peter lives in New Mexico with the three loves of his life: his wife Kate, his kitty Kitty, and his vast library of well-loved and well-worn genre fiction.

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  1. I think monopoly and chess will be suitable for my son to enhance necessary skills. Thanks for sharing 6 cool games here because you help me in finding the good board game for kids. Anyway, thanks a lot.

  2. I used to love Simon! I should actually buy it…
    Thanks for the tip.

    Have you ever played GO? ( ) My entire family loves it!


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