People ask quite frequently when you tell them that you play board games as a hobby, “Why play board games?” or even more frequently, “You mean like monopoly?” Most people, unless already involved in the hobby themselves, do not understand that board games have evolved from the days when we were children and the only games available were the mass market variety.
So why play board games? There are several reasons that I chose this hobby. Here are just a few.
There is nothing better than getting together with your friends and family over a board game. Board games are one of the few activities these days that offer social interaction that can include multiple generations of the family from grandparents to tweens. Many games, especially party games, can be played with both older people and children (depending on their age and the game’s content, of course.) I have sat down at the table to play a game with my mother, my daughters, and my niece. The discussions we had were unforced and natural – not kids trying to please an elder.
One of my daughters was very reluctant to come out of her bedroom and interact with the rest of the family. Unless it was mealtime, we never saw her. She was content to spend all of her time in her room interacting with her online friends, but would not come out to see her mama and daddy. So, how do board games come into the picture?
I went back to college to finally earn my degree and dragged her, kicking and screaming, out of her room to sit down at a table and play board games with me once a week. The game we started with was Elder Sign, which is her number one all-time favorite game.
That once a week game playing has morphed over the years to where we play on an almost daily basis now. She now asks to play games, rather than me having to ask her and chooses the games we play. I feel like board games gave me back my daughter – and the social interaction that we have when we play can never be replaced.
I mentioned that I went back to college to get my degree; however, I felt that I needed intellectual stimulation beyond the classroom. You see, I have been an avid reader all of my life. Most years I read at least 500 books, but by the time I was done reading textbooks after I returned to school, I did not want to see another book. That is where board games come in.
I do not like to be bored, nor do I want my brain to turn to mush. I wanted some type of intellectual stimulation that was fun and that did not feel like it was work. I turned back to my childhood love of board games, that I had tried (and failed) to return to when my daughters were in their teens. I started purchasing board games and building up a decent collection of them. I now have board games of pretty much every variety (except war games) all of which I can play and get some degree of intellectual stimulation from.
I am probably the least dexterous person on the face of the planet. My middle name is decidedly not “grace.” As I have gotten older, I have started to fall more often, which is a genuine fear for me. Dexterity games, although they do not help with the falling issue, do help me to concentrate on what I am doing. For example, in the game Junk Art, there are several different challenges that you need to master including building the highest structure and keeping your pieces from falling off the structure you are constructing. It takes a dexterous touch to be able to accomplish these things inside of the game and, although I am not doing those things in real life, I do tend to take my time more often when trying to balance things to carry and things of that nature because I have learned within a game, that I can do it if I concentrate hard on it.
There has been a lot of research done on board games and the impact that playing them can have on children. I am not sure there has been a lot of research done on the impact of board games on older folks, but if not, there should be if for no other reason than finding out if the mental stimulation of board games can help with cognitive issues that are so often developed as we get older. I am not saying that board games can help with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, but they might offer intellectual stimulation that could help prevent the problems in the first place.
Social interaction, intellectual stimulation, and improving dexterity are just a few reasons that the answer to “Why play board games?” can easily be answered “Why not?” Board gaming is a terrific hobby and with such a wide variety of games available – modern classics such as Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, and Codenames – being easily available, there is sure to be a game to fit everyone’s taste.