Sunday, April 3, 2011

So Why Games?

So why do people play games? This is a question that I've asked myself many times. As I put more and more time and effort into the hobby I see even more value in it. The game industry is growing. Games like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride are becoming more mainstream. Barnes and Nobles even has games like Dominion and Forbidden Island. More people are being introduced to the wonderful world of modern board games. I've put together a list of some of the reasons that I like games. Feel free to comment and add some reasons of your own!

  • Games are Social: Board games are a very social experience. This is probably what I like most about the hobby. I love getting together with friends and playing. I run a game group and it has been a blast getting to know local gamers. It can be kind of crazy packing 25 or so people in my little house, but it's always a great experience.

  • Competition: Who doesn't like to win? The experience of games is almost always fun, but when you see your carefully crafted plans working as expected and you win a game, it can be a very satisfying experience. I'm a big fan of strategy games. Dominion is a perfect example. I can formulate a plan going into the game, and if I play it well my strategy wins. Unless someone had a better strategy that is. :) Winning obviously isn't everything, but it sure is fun every once in awhile.

  • Games provide memorable experiences: I will never forget the time when my brother in law scored 20 total points in Ticket to Ride. For those that have played Ticket to Ride you know that scoring 20 points is pretty hard to do. You almost have to work at getting a score that low. We've laughed about that game many times as we've gotten together to play games. Playing games with friends and family makes memories and provides experiences that we will remember for the rest of our lives. And then there was that time that my entire ship got blown apart in Galaxy Trucker...

  • Games are educational: As my daughter gets older I'm having more and more fun playing games with her. It's fun seeing her learn and develope through games. Games teach important skills such as learning to win or lose gracefully. This is something that many adults need as well. :) They can teach math, social skills, color and shape recognition, decision making skills, and many other things. There are a lot of games that are historical reenactments as well. Many of these games recreate historic battles or they can replay presidential elections in American history. You can play games about the Roman Colosseum, or the Incan empire. While some of these games are loosely based on historical events, they can generate interest in further study.

  • Games can bring families together: Life can get very busy. It's important to slow down and spend quality time with the ones you love. Games help provide that opportunity. Some of my best memories growing up were playing Mexican Train with the family. I also remember some great games of Chess, Rummy, Hearts, Spades, and many other card games. With so many influences in the world trying to tear the family apart, it's important to find things that help bring the family together. Family game night can do the trick.

So whether you break out an old favorite, or play the latest and greatest game around, enjoy the value that comes from a good game! Happy gaming!


  1. I'm hurt that my EPIC game of Zombie Dice didn't make your "memorable" list. I may never forgive you.

  2. That was quite the EPIC game. I may have to make a few edits. :)

  3. Nice article! The Ludology podcast covered this in their second episode and came up with a similar list.

    One that they mentioned, which also happens to be the biggest reason I play games, is the desire to explore the game itself as a system, to see what games can do, and to figure out how to best interact with it. While I appreciate most of the other reasons as well, I'm just fascinated by games and love to spend time reading rules, playing them, and gaining a deeper understanding of them.

    And I'm actually letting the topic of boardgames and relationships (and what they can do for each other) percolate in my brain for a while, and will hopefully write an article about it soon on my blog.

  4. Thanks Chris, I'll have to check out the Ludology podcast. I agree with you about exploring game systems. It's easy to get caught up in the cult of the new. I really enjoy playing a game over and over to really try to figure it out and explore different strategies. Nice blog by the way...