I say the word ‘game’, and the first one that comes to your mind is… I am sure it must be Counterstrike, Dota, or PUBG. These are the games of today. They get people all riled up, excited, and competitive.
But there is still no beating the good old board games when it comes to fun and joy.
I am not writing this because a wave of nostalgia has hit me, or I want to diss on people playing and mastering video games. No! any game that keeps people occupied and brings joy to them is essential.
Games serve a purpose more significant than being a mere combination of action and graphics. They foster social skills, help in honing crucial neural abilities, and teach valuable life lessons.
But in video games and console gaming, board games are forgotten or are diminishing under the dust of the foregone era.
But even today, when people get together, when families reunite and friends meet on Halloween, Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving, they take out board games.
They play these games, cherish memories, and enjoy their time together. That’s the reason board games will never be forgotten or cease to be a part of our lives.
Besides being a means of social bonding and endless fun, board games have some other health benefits. In this blog, we will outline those benefits to get an idea of why board games matter.
The Forging of Social Bonds
Have you ever started a board game at a party?
You start with two, maybe four players (depending on how many you need or that particular game). As the game progresses, you see a crowd of ten people gathered around the board, watching moves each player makes.
They are mere observers, but with time they become participants. They are in the ears of players, telling them and advising them what move to make next. Before you know it, the crowd is in the game too.
Though only the payers have stakes in the games, the crowd goes rapturous when the winner is declared.
Now you call out for another game. There are more willing people than the first time.
What happened? You didn’t call anyone. You just started a game and people – some even unknown to you – gathered around. Now, they are your acquaintance.
Take a family game night – all members sitting across the coffee table, with game spread out.
One game. Two games. Three games. It goes on. There is banter, innocuous cheating, and sleight of hands too. The family is enjoying it.
The thing with board games is that the party never ends when the game is finished. If you sit for a game, you sit together long after the game is done. What do you do? You talk, and before you know, the night has passed.
That is how board games forge social bonds
Bringing your Mind into the Play
Board games won’t test the skill of your hand.
Can you take a sniper shot while taking the pinout of a grenade while you are in a moving car? No.
Can you score a 20-point word in scrabble to win a game? Yes.
Board games challenge minds. You have to think several moves ahead.
Not only strategy, but board games horn a set of other skills – probabilities, mathematics, reading communication, strategic thinking, comprehension, and many others.
This is true for both kids and adults.
Modern-day learning is now switching more to game-based learning. There are proven benefits of this approach over the traditional whiteboard teaching methods.
It generates more interest among kids and makes it easier to track the performance of every child with detailed results and outcomes.
Based on these evaluations, methods can be devised to help the children excel and overcome their shortcomings.
Unlike the old one-exam-for-all, game-based learning can help kids show their prowess through tests designed according to their mental capacity and bring the best out of them.
Board Games don’t Cost a Fortune
Once again, this isn’t a shot at those who spend upwards of five figures on their gadgets and make sure that everything from their mouse to gaming chair came out only a month ago.
But board games are the cheapest form of entertainment. A ludo board costs you less than a Netflix subscription.
Board games are also getting better. There is a lot more variety now. That is why the Wahington Post says that we are in the ‘golden age of board games.
Not only in physical form, but board games are also available online. You don’t have to run to your attic and remove dust from the chest of games you packed when you went away for college.
You can simply go to online gaming websites like Unlimited Games Mo and find your favourite board games there.
See, board games aren’t all that boring and archaic as you thought them to be.
All the Learning
A child’s preschool training begins at home. It involves cards and boards to teach them alphabets, identify colours, count numbers, and name things.
Then, as they grow and their brain matures, they move on to more elaborate forms of learning.
However, board games prove to be a valuable tool for learning at every stage. Be it learning vocabulary through crosswords, counting through ludo, etc.
A study on the employees of pharma industry employees to gauge the learning effectiveness, retention through the PHARM Game® (a 3’x 4’ board game) revealed that teaching with the help of board games yields better results and better performance achieved after an assignment or a lecture.
Playing board games also improves focus and attention span. In a highly focused environment, the kids’ probability of grasping a new concept and learning about new topics increases significantly.
Board Games, a Cure for Mental illnesses
A study conducted by French neurologist Jean François Dartigues found that people who play board games have a 15% lesser risk of suffering from dementia than those who did not play board games.
Not only this, but the study also concluded that board games stimulate the brain and the resultant pleasure acts as a possible protective factor against dementia and other cognitive diseases.
Nursing homes and assisted living centres worldwide have several board games to keep the residents engaged. It keeps their brain functioning without them having to put any physical effort into it.
Board games tend to have a positive impact on knowledge and cognitive functions. It also reduces anxiety and lowers the severity of Alzheimer’s disease.
They have a tremendous effect on our mental health. Various researches have proven the link between board games and increased brain activity.
For example, a study conducted in Germany found that the creative and analytical thinking required to play chess gives enough exercise to both left and the right side of the brain.
Some studies have even gone further to suggest that actively playing board games improves the IQ of human beings.
Also, learning to play a new board game can stimulate your neurons and improve your memory and cognitive performance.
While sometimes board games become challenging and quite competitive, they still take away your stress and relieve your mind.
Experts have found that board games lower stress levels and increase enthusiasm and calm in a player.
They provide a mechanism for people to let their stress out and feel positive. Resultantly, it improves social interactions and leads to solid relationships.
A 2017 study proved this to be right when players of a 2300-year-old Chinese board game Baduk were examined. It showed that those who played Baduk have higher processing abilities. They also indulge in goal-directed adaptive behaviour were faced with a changing environment.
In patients with Alzheimer’s disease, various researches have shown that chess improves the planning abilities of patients who suffer from this disease.
Board games are not only effective in treating patients with mental illness. If you play board games throughout your life, you can keep your mind sharp even as you get old.
Studies conducted to measure mental agility of older people who played board games versus who did not play board games showed that ones who played board games have better cerebral agility, information processing speed, and heightened concentration at an older age.
Board games might not be the most popular form of gaming today, but these games have benefits that go far beyond the thrill, excitement, and joy of a game.
They offer an umbrella to socialize under. They provide easy and quick learning to kids. They help keep the brain sharp, and they also come in handy when treating patients with mental illness.
Board games range from the simplest one to the trickiest one. But they all help you achieve skills whose utility extends far beyond the couple of hours you spend playing those games.
If there are any board games that helped you during your life, tell us about them in the comments below.
Audrey Throne has an ongoing affair with the words that capture readers’ attention. Her passion for writing dates back to her pre-blogging days. She loves to share her thoughts related to business, technology, health and fashion.
Find her on Twitter: @audrey_throne
Audrey Throne – about.me/audreythrone