What are your favorite board games to play?
What I didn’t realize while I was debating in high school was that the activity would teach me key skills that I would rely on later in life to resolve conflicts and accept loss. Debate forces a student to address opposition in a controlled environment to succeed. Ignoring the conflict (or the opposition’s arguments) would most likely result in a loss. Furthermore, even if you ultimately lost a round, community norms dictated you display good sportsmanship (or else word would travel through the circuit you were a poor loser) and you might still have to compete in the next round, so you would be forced to compartmentalize the loss to succeed in the next round.
A recent article in Quartz argues that the people gain similar skills through board games. Board games are a “controlled state of conflict” and a “good board game builds in enough chance that any reasonably skilled player can win” ultimately making the process fun even when you lose. Evidently, these feelings are timeliness as board game cafes are becoming increasingly popular and board game sales at hobby stores have risen for the last five years in a row. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Tabletop card and board games are also one of the most popular funding categories on Kickstarter. A recent Card Against Humanity-like game called Million Dollars, But was funded on Kickstarter within 2 minutes and raised far above its goal of $10,000 ($560,000+).
Why does this matter? In addition to teaching important life skills, it’s evidence that despite the isolation we are facing from advancements in technology, the continued rise of popularity of these types of games demonstrate that humans crave interaction. Like debate, playing a board game online is fundamentally not the same as playing it in person with a group of friends. After sitting in front of a computer all week at your job, it’s no wonder that people are meeting at coffee shops and playing card games at parties. Board games are a top suggestion for how aging adults can combat loneliness and isolation.
So the next time you are feeling depressed and craving interaction, sign up for a group that meets to play board games. Organize a game night with your family or friends. This is also an easy tip for parents who are looking to connect with their kids and foster conflict resolution skills. One of my fondest memories growing up was playing Risk with friends and Trivial Pursuit with my family.