Have you ever paid much attention to board game boxes? On many of them, especially if the game is advertised as being fun for all ages, there is a picture showing a family happily playing the game together. The family usually consists of a father, mother, sister, and brother, and the children will probably be close to the same age. As they sit around the table, they smile affectionately at one another or look upon the board game with joy and enthusiasm. Clearly, they are all having a wonderful time playing the said board game together in a spirit of familial harmony. This has always puzzled me. In my family, it would be highly unlikely for everyone to be simultaneously smiling over a board game. More likely, an observer would be able to tell by each player’s facial expression whether he or she has a good chance of winning.

There’s something else odd about board game box pictures. Generally, every player will have a hand on the board or will be holding a game piece. That is not the way most games are played; people are usually supposed to take turns. If, for any reason, the players had dispensed with the rule of taking turns nicely, the parents would certainly not be smiling. In my experience, parents tend to dislike anarchistic chaos.

Based upon these two observations, I have reached the obvious conclusion that these types of pictures are taken before the game begins, and the players pictured are in the process of setting up the board. They are all smiling with smug anticipation of the victories they intend to achieve, oblivious to the fact that only one of them can actually succeed. As the game progresses, three of them are sure to change their facial expressions to ones of sorrow or frustration.

Either that, or all of the people are models who are just posing for the picture, and they don’t care about the game at all. That idea depresses me and it doesn’t make the game look very appealing. Why would I want to play a game if it’s so boring that they couldn’t find models that actually care about winning it?