Anyone who's seen Star Trek: The Next Generation is familiar with the Holodeck, that sophisticated electronic playground that let the Enterprise crew live out their irksomely wholesome, public domain fantasies. Seriously, why was anyone playing 4D chess or attending coworkers' awkward trombone concerts when they could literally replicate any scenario imaginable at the touch of a button? Sadly, we're nowhere near replicating this amazing technology, but we would like to humbly suggest that there is a fantastic substitute that A) already exists in real life and B) made of literal cardboard.

Yup, we're talking about board games -- they're not just for families to get into heated arguments over rent hikes at gentrified waterfront properties anymore; there are elaborately constructed open-world games available. It's no wonder that during the pandemic, board game sales rose by a whopping 21%. And unlike video games, board games aren't bound by graphic constraints; they utilize what every school librarian claimed was the greatest power of all: the power of imagination.

And so many of the specific Holodeck programs we saw on Star Trek have real-world board game analogs. Like Captain Picard's Dixon Hill program, a hard-boiled detective game that enables him to solve mysteries and ogle digital women.

Here in the 21st century, we have Detective: City of Angels, which similarly lets players roam around old-timey Los Angeles questioning suspects and finding clues ..

Data and Geordi repeatedly play Holmes and Watson, inadvertently creating an entirely new lifeform in the process …

There’s an entire series of Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective games that allow you to play the detective without having to dress up in itchy clothes and do bad British accents … 

For pretty much every Holodeck program we've seen on TV, there's a board game that does the same thing; spy missions, journeying to the Old West – even hanging out with Leonardo DaVinci, and playing baseball like the gang on Deep Space Nine. And here's another win for board games: they don't randomly malfunction and kill people like 70% of the time.

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Top Image: Paramount

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