Mention the term board games to a number of people in our modern technological age, and you will likely be met with snickering, laughter, or raised brows. With video game technology having developed to the point where the graphics and images are so real and lifelike, it is difficult for many younger generations to understand the appeal of board games. Yet board games have existed for thousands of years.
A board game is defined as “a game in which counters or pieces are placed, removed, or moved on a premarked surface or ‘board’ according to a set of rules (Wikipedia).” Board games require a measure of strategy, planning, and plotting for the most part, and can also require a measure of luck as well. Some games that immediately come to mind with regard to luck for many people might be Yahtzee or Monopoly, two very popular board games through the years. However, both of these games require strategy and thinking to be successful.
The two most enduring and popular board games in history are chess and checkers. These games have been played by people in poverty and by kings and queens. Their appeal is largely based on the intense strategy and planning required to be successful. Board games teach children and adults valuable lessons about life, relationships, and competition.
The stigma that board games have gained in more recent years is nothing new, however, though the polarization of television and video games have pushed their importance aside for many people. Yet what board games can do for families by bringing them together (as well as for friendships) cannot be overstated or underestimated. An hour or two a week playing board games with loved ones can help people connect and talk with one another in ways that would not be possible by sitting in front of the television together.
Board games are also great at teaching some valuable life lessons. At the core, though, board games are fun and exciting to play. If you have never played a board game or haven’t done so in many years, there is a world of amazing enjoyment just waiting to be discovered.
While there is not a vast commercial market for collecting board games, the appeal for collecting them can be strong for a number of people. Older generations will likely look back on their youth and fondly recall playing board games with their family members and friends. These memories can even be quite strong and stirring as they think about loved ones who have passed on from this life, smiling and laughing as they played a board game together.
Finding the games that they used to play, if they are no longer in production, can be a great testament to the days of their youth, much like collecting pictures and trinkets and trophies from those days.
For others, the idea of collecting some of these games can appeal for posterity or even profit. The first edition of Monopoly or Scrabble, for example, could be worth a great deal of money, especially if one can find them in great condition. These two games happen to also be interesting artifacts of history since neither one of them were sold on their first attempts to the companies that eventually marketed them. The creators of these two games had been turned away more than once because the company executives didn’t believe that there would be any interest in them.
So those first editions can fetch a fair penny. It is important to note, however, that collecting board games is not like collecting baseball cards or comics and as such, if the intent is to make money through this effort, the prospects will be long and thin. Collecting board games is more suited and ideal for the individual who has a vested interest in them, whether personal or otherwise.
Luck Versus Strategy
Board games vary across the board (pardon the pun) when it comes to the amount of strategy or luck needed. Board games such as chess, for example, is almost completely reliant on strategy. The successful chess player will be able to map out and plan several moves ahead every time, estimating and predicting what his or her opponent will do on their next few turns in order to set up the pieces in the right order for the win. A game like Yahtzee, on the other hand, is based on dice alone. The player will rely on some elements of luck on every roll, but they can also use strategy to some degree to determine their scoring, removing the least likely roll sequences in the future and hoping to get the right roll on their next turn.
Most board games, however, are a combination of some luck and strategy. What has kept board games popular through the years is the need to rely on some level of strategy, advanced thinking and problem solving, and the ability for anyone to actually win any given game. Yes, there are those players of these games who are so advanced that they will not likely lose to amateurs, but every time a person sits down to play a board game, they actually have a chance to win. This is what separates board games from physical competitions.
Games of luck can be quite enjoyable for less intensive games and those of strategy can help teach children and adults the power of advanced and forward thinking. Chess happens to be one of the most popular games in history because it teaches players about advanced strategy and planning and many of the principles that are taught during chess are applied on the battlefield, in the corporate office, and even in relationships.
Where Board Games are Appropriate
Unless a company designs video games, there are likely very few appropriate times where playing these types of games at work are acceptable. Yet board games can actually teach employees the power of teamwork and that strategy can often trump education or raw skills.
Board games are also a great tool to use during school for children of any age. For the same principles that make board games a positive experience among working adults, children, from kindergarten to high school, can learn to play within the confines of fixed rules as well as how to work together to accomplish a goal.
For families, board games have almost become a lost device to bring the family members together. Television and modern video games have created an atmosphere of escapism, and even when families are sitting together in the same room watching television, they are not interacting, which they would be doing if they were playing board games. For parents, board games can teach their children invaluable lessons about how to play properly with others, how to plan for the future, and how to strategize their moves. Even the most basic children’s games, such as Chutes and Ladders, though it may appear to be based on luck alone, requires some thinking at times to determine the path that they want to move in.
One of the great aspects to board games is that they can be played anytime, anywhere. Taken on vacations or camping in the woods, board games don’t require batteries or power and are usually quite compact and can fit into a suitcase without much trouble. There are literally hundreds of different board games that are being manufactured every year, so there is a plethora of choices when it comes to which ones to play.
The most popular games throughout the years are popular for a reason. If you are wondering which ones will suit your family or friends best, figure out how much time you would like to devote to the games every week and then determine which game or games can be completed in that amount of time. You will soon discover an amazing world of possibility when you start playing board games with your friends, family, or coworkers.
Frequently Asked Questions
I used to love to play board games as a child. Wouldn’t it be considered odd for me to start playing again at my age?
The great thing about board games is that they are ideal for any age. The stigma that board games have received in recent years derives from a lack of imagination built through the age of video games. Yet most modern video games are designed to be one player only, whereas board games demand two or more, making it a social activity which is always a positive influence on life.
I can’t remember this game I used to play as a kid. How can I go about finding it again?
There are a number of resources online that you can use to track down the game that you fondly recall from your youth. The problem that you may run into, however, is if you can’t describe it effectively.
The best strategy would be to find a discussion group whose passion is board games, ask for help, and describe the game as best you can. Odds are if you played it once and it was a store-bought game, then somebody else will know what it was called and how you can find a version to purchase.
I’m told that family time is beneficial, especially for young children. Isn’t watching television shows good enough? Why should I consider playing board games?
The advantage that board games offer the modern family is not only being close to one another, but it teaches about rules as well as developing certain strategies to defeat the opponent. Children benefit from playing board games with the family because it helps their brains to mature and strengthen while learning how to win, and lose, graciously in a calm and comforting and warm environment. The only thing that television teaches families is how to turn off their brains and be in the same room together.
Are there strategy books for board games that I can use to help learn the game?
In this day and age, there is a book for just about everything and if there isn’t a book, there are likely resources that you can find online to learn about the games you want to play. For chess, for example, there are hundreds of books on learning the game and improving your skills at it. There are also electronic versions of some board games that can also teach the rules and best strategies as you play them.
Board games have been around for thousands of years. While the format for different games have changed over time, and others have been lost to history, they are still an integral part of many lives around the world. Board games have the ability to bring families and friends together, to make people think, plan, and learn to strategize, and to create a sense of fair and fun competition among a number of different people.
Throughout the twentieth century, board games became a major industry in consumerism, with some of the most famous and indelible games being created and being played to this day. In fact, some of the most famous and by far the most popular games that are currently being played, some of them were turned down by many company executives because they didn’t believe that the consumers would have much interest in them. Yet, for something that has been around for as many years as board games have existed, it is amazing to think that their popularity could wane. Which they haven’t.
While there are certainly factions of people who dismiss board games as being uninspiring, chess and checkers remain two of the most popular board games in history that have entertained paupers and kings alike through the ages. Getting into board games is easy, as is collecting them. There are treasures of forgotten games around the world and icons that remain popular to this day.
For a different kind of entertainment, board games will certainly inspire rivalry, fun, and excitement for any age.