In our family, we have been seriously playing various types of tabletop games for the past 15 months or so. Over the course of this time I have made various observations into the benefits that are gained by engaging in these games. Whether the game is a card game, board game, dice game, or even a tabletop miniatures game, plenty of good things come from playing. For the purpose of discussion the term board games will encompass the previous types of games I mentioned.
First, the obvious benefit is social interaction. Unlike video games, where a lot interaction is through either text chat, voice chat, or no interaction at all if the game is one-player, playing board games requires physical company to play. This enables real face-to-face conversations to occur. Speaking skills become developed this way, whether it is as simple as encouraging another player or having to have a more in-depth discussion of strategy with other players in a cooperative game. Spending time together as a family strengthens the bond between its members. Sharing a game with friends and others who share a common interest expand the network of people to build relationships with.
Another benefit that playing board games gives is developing decision making skills. There are many different types of games to play and each requires decisions to be made. One such decision is how to manage risk. Simple games that press your luck shape your decisions on how much risk you are willing to take. Another decision making skill is resource management. Playing games where there is a finite amount of resources to work with, e.g. money, goods, time, etc., enhance your ability to work with what you have in order to reach the best desired outcome. In this picture below, the game is nearing the end and there are limited amounts of food to gather. Decisions have to be made as to how to best gather the food and get it back to the home island.
Another benefit that is gained from playing board games is that many games enhance skills that are learned in school. For example, there are many games that require the use of math to determine scoring. There is one game in particular, UGH! from Calliope Games, that uses simple three-number multiplication to determine scoring for sets of cards collected. Many games focus on economics as a theme and so give a practical application of that subject. Games like Power Grid from Rio Grande Games or Fish Cook from CheapAss Games use the basic principle of supply and demand as a main part of playing the game. Other games focus on historical events. In the game pictured below, Freedom: The Underground Railroad from Academy Games uses true historical persons, places, and events to play out the game. So, some times playing a game teaches history too! Games that develop these skills are great for home-schooling cirriculum , or even as part of enrichment programs in the traditional school system.
These are just a few of the great benefits that playing board games offer. The investment in purchasing these games is worth it’s weight in it’s return. And most certainly engaging in playing these games allows you and the ones around you to reap these benefits.