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.
6 thoughts on “Why Board Games”
If your students have trouble understanding the appeal of non-technological activities, all the better that they have you as a teacher!
As for co-workers mocking your hobby, I think that’s just rude. Nobody has to like board gaming. If other people prefer to spend their free time listening to jazz, collecting stamps, or arranging flower bouquets, that is their choice, and I don’t think you would ever derisively comment on that.
…but, without the explicit snide comments, I know the feeling. When people ask me about my hobbies, I tell them that I like reading, traveling, and running. Which is all true, but leaves out an important part that probably tells the most about me. It took two of my best friends in college and me one and a half years to find out we all liked board games because no one ever mentioned it – university and football and politics just seemed safer topics to talk about.
I find board games not only great for social interaction, but during that time you can really learn a great deal about the personality of those who are gaming with you. Board gaming provides a pretty unique opportunity in this way.
Great post! I wish I had something insightful to say but. Keep up the great work you are doing. I look forward to reading more.
Its a shame that people look down on the board game hobby. There is so much to be learn from these awesome games. Also , you have such a great opportunity with your students!
Hey, I’d be interested in how you run your board game club for kids. I’m a High School teacher in Canada and I tried running a board game club but it fizzled out. Looking to rekindle it next year and could use all the ideas you have. Here are a few quick questions to start with:
1. How do you get the games that you play with or do you use your own games?
2. How many students are part of your club?
3. How often do you get together?
4. Do you do anything else other than play board games?
5. Do you play or just organize and let the students play?
Any other information you have would be useful! Thanks for doing the blog and keep up the good work! Don’t worry about your co-workers, but I do understand what you mean!
I agree that the co-worker snide remarks are rude.
I am incredibly lucky that not only do I work with a few people who like to game (and one who will game with me whenever it’s feasible), but even those who don’t play are very supportive of the whole thing.
Whether they’re hiding a snide opinion or not, I don’t know. But they are keeping it to themselves if they do.