Fun and games

My interest in transport and cities emerged from a very young age.

As a child, I always loved playing with cars, trucks, trains, planes, ships, and building cities out of sand or wooden blocks. At the beach I’d rarely go into the water, but instead preferred to spend my time building “sand metropolises” replete with elaborate (and wholly ineffective) defences against oncoming waves.

As a nerdy child of the 1980s, physical toys and outdoor activities were quickly swamped by the computer tsunami. Legendary games such as Pirates, Ports of Call, Dune II, Civilization II, Transport Tycoon, SimCity, Theme Park, and Age of Empires soaked up years of my life. (NB: FIFA95 was about the only computer game that I played which was not related to transport and/or cities, although my interest in it quickly waned once I learned how to lob the keeper from halfway).

After the age 16, however, the time I spent playing computer games ebbed in response to increased competition from homework, parties, and girlfriends. Until recently that is, when my girlfriend’s mother mailed us a special board game that they use to get through the long, cold, and beautiful, Norwegian winter.




The game? “Ticket to Ride”. The goal? To develop an efficient rail network linking cities in Germany (there’s other versions for different continents). The catch? All the other players are trying to do the same and amount of space available to build tracks is limited. As an aside, this pretty much captures both the advantages and disadvantages of private rail operators – i.e. the benefits of competition but the disadvantage of a fragmented network .

There’s lots of other details, most of which relate to the multitude of different ways that you can score points. In some ways it’s like a transport version of “Risk”, but quicker and generally more fun – especially when you’re playing with several people, but the chances of “your route” being disrupted by another player increases exponentially.

Anyway, all I intended to do with this post was pay homage to the transport and city computer games that shaped my childhood, while also highlighting another game that has emerged to dominate my more recent idle moments. Maybe we should have an Auckland Transport Blog “Ticket to ride” board game evening at my house sometime soon?

P.s. Results so far? Girlfriend 8; Stuart 2. Lucky I don’t do this for a day job … ah fudge.





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