Yesterday, I had a long bus ride to a field trip with my 8th graders. While sitting and chatting with a student, they wanted to know more about my love of board games. Their big question to me was, “why play board games when there are so many more vivid games you could play with technology?” It first made me chuckle a little bit, because these kids I teach are the first group that grew up with an iPad in their hands. Many of them struggle to understand how anything without technology could be fun.
However, I realized that many of my coworkers have a similar reaction to me saying that I collect board games. Not the knee jerk reaction of wondering what board games have that video games don’t, but that feeling that they view me as immature for sitting around a table playing games with other people consistently without children. I have gotten many snide remarks about my hobby in the various places I have worked. It is why if you are friends with me on Facebook you will see very little about games, I limit my board game discussion to my blog page, or only post on Instagram.
These looks and that question have me reflecting on why board gaming really appeals to me on the level that it does. I think it comes down to two different things for me. First, it is when I like to socialize. Second, I enjoy critical thinking and planning things out. Now, I will be honest, I do not often play board games solo. The social aspect becomes inherent for me. Often times, the only times I do see my friends is when we are playing board games. I am not the kind of person who is good about just meeting friends for lunch, or having long phone conversations. My ability to make small talk is not that great, unless I am actively doing something else. Board gaming allows me to socialize but also have small breaks as I think about my turn.
The critical thinking aspect is equally important. My mind is almost always racing all day long. When board gaming I am putting that racing to better and more structured use. It suits me, because I am able to think about 5-10 turns in advance in some games. It is a challenge that I genuinely enjoy. Unfortunately, those who question the hobby don’t always understand that aspect because they do not know what these games play like. The challenge is not always clear for them.
I do wish that my students had a more healthy interest in a hobby like board games or playing outside. While they are technologically savvy, many of them do lack in basic face to face social skills that may end up hurting them in the future. I host a board gaming club for students, and often bring games into my classroom. Many students have approached me for recommendations that they could play with their family or friends. I continue to encourage them and give them and parents who ask lists. I am still trying to get my coworkers to see the benefits of board games, at least in the classroom but have not had much luck on that end.