Board Games: Why? (November Blog)

I have been an avid gamer since I was six years old. My hobby has taken the form of playing role playing games, miniature games and board games. I still maintain this hobby by joining board game events held each weekend around Yokohama and Tokyo. Just the weekend past, I played four games: Skull King – a trick taking game, A Feast for Odin – an economic game based on the Viking expansions of the 9th and 10th centuries, Century: A New World – a worker placement game about the colonization of America, and Istanbul – a game of merchants in the Turkish capital.

Today I would like to talk about board games. More specifically why people play board games. People play board games for various reasons: they enjoy the challenge, the social dynamic of competition, the testing of skill vs skill and/or luck vs luck.

However, the biggest reason why people play games has less to do with the game itself. Board games are a gateway into a world of social interaction that is well defined, has rules and customs that guide it, and is fully explained. For many of us, this lifts the worst of the burden of social interaction and allows us to simply be with other people, engaged in a common activity. Navigating the social dynamic is changed by the roles we take on at the table, all object oriented.

By putting on the shared mask of a common activity, we are able to flourish in social interaction, where we might struggle with it in classroom, office, or other social settings.

Here are some other commonly shared reasons:

  • For fun! Board games are an enjoyable pastime just like any other sort of game.
  • To socialize. Most board games are played in a group, making them a good way to spend time with friends, family, or even to get to know new people.
  • To develop teamwork skills. Whether this is the overt goal or just a side benefit, many board games require working together or forming partnerships involving trust and communication. Utilizing and practicing these skills is beneficial to everyone.
  • To hone critical thinking and strategic ability. Some games involve complex rules and scenarios that require in depth analysis in order to find optimal solutions to win or progress in the game. Predictive analysis of your opponents or teammates in a board game is a great way to practice another set of skills that is relevant in everyday life.
  • As an escape. Board games often offer scenarios and potentially alternate worlds into which people can delve allowing them to be distracted from or to give them a break from the outside world.
  • Because their friend, who likes board games, asked them to. Sometimes people do it just because they have been invited by someone who wants to play for any of the above reasons! Never underestimate peer pressure.

I hope that in the future that some of you may give board games a chance as they have evolved into something more than a pastime for children and present an opportunity for adults to socialize, learn and have fun.