With the busy lives that many of us live, it is likely that finding anything to do when you get home is a welcome escape. While busyness is often seen as something negative, we are grateful that this means there are lots of people out there looking for ways to unwind after a long day in front of their computer screens.
Board games have been used as entertainment since the 1800s and have evolved from simple games such as checkers and Monopoly to complex strategic simulations based on war and politics. They range from single-player solitaire-like logic puzzles like Rush Hour to cooperative team challenges like Pandemic and even massively multiplayer online (MMO) games such as World of Warcraft. It’s not surprising that board games offer mental health benefits.
Of course, the very definition of what constitutes a board game is up for debate. Some people might include word games such as Scrabble and Cards Against Humanity as board games, and others might only count strategy simulations like Settlers of Catan. With this in mind, we will use the common understanding, which includes anything with a physical representation on a board or other playing surface. How can we use this excellent medium to improve our mental health? Here are some ways:
- They get us up and moving!
Many board games involve players getting up from their seats and walking around the table, or at the very least moving one’s token across a representation of a city, continent, or galaxy on a map. This activity helps keep your body healthy and exercises your mind in ways that might not be possible if you just sat still in front of a computer all day. Getting up and stretching your legs can help prevent muscle cramps and back pain associated with sitting in a cramped position for long periods.
- They encourage social interaction.
People often do games when they have friends over or when their family gets together for game night. It is a great way to build friendships and strengthen family bonds. Playing games together can help people with autism better communicate their feelings, which shows how powerful this medium can be in terms of social bonding.
- They are educational!
While learning about the world through a board game might not be as helpful as reading a non-fiction book or studying an atlas, specific strategy simulations teach players lessons they wouldn’t otherwise learn without hands-on experience. For example, principles of economics such as supply and demand from the popular board game Settlers of Catan have been found to work even in virtual marketplaces. It’s also worth noting that many history-based simulation games such as Twilight Struggle focus on political and social interactions between countries. As such, they help give players a greater understanding of social relationships and diplomacy.
- They require critical thinking.
This point ties into the first three points: if you’re moving around and talking to other people, you’re likely not going to be inside your head worrying about work or chores that need doing. It allows you to relax by focusing on solving practical problems presented by games through logic puzzles. Games like Pandemic concentrate entirely on this type of problem-solving task. People require the best chess learning session to know about the strategies and tips for such games as chess. Each player is assigned their role with different abilities that must all come together for the team environment to succeed. Cooperative board games also increase mental resilience, an essential part of overall well-being.
- They encourage us to try new things.
Some games, such as Betrayal at House on the Hill or Shadows Over Camelot, allow players to choose their characters and defeat enemies they control themselves. Other games, like Agricola, take a more collaborative approach where the board is built by all players working together. This kind of open-ended play where players can choose to play against one another encourages social harmony because it’s much harder to fight if you’re forced to work together (unless one player defects at the very end, but this isn’t common).
- They teach emotional intelligence.
I’ve already mentioned how cooperative board games help people with autism improve their emotional communication skills, but here I’m referring to how games allow players to take on different roles. Roles are assigned randomly but are chosen based on their strengths so that each player has a chance of being given a role that suits them well and allows them to shine- no matter how shy or socially anxious they might be feeling in real life. Board games can also help people work through emotional problems by allowing players to have ‘pretend’ conversations with other players representing other characters to resolve misunderstandings or communicate feelings. Many board games for couples promote healthy communication between partners, while some board games designed for family play encourage positive parenting interactions.
Board games can help people with autism communicate better if that’s important to you. Or maybe cooperative board games might help you and your kid(s) become more emotionally intelligent or teach effective strategies for solving disputes between friends or family members. The list goes on! We hope it’s clear by this point that there are many positive reasons why people should consider playing board games- even if they’re not already hardcore gamers. Whether playing games at home with family, friends, or strangers at a convention, the benefits are varied and numerous!
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Zarlish. Passion, loyalty, and hard work have always been Zarlish’s key to work. It’s been years since she is working in the field of Content Writing. Zarlish is a CS student along with having the compatibility of putting hands on new learning techniques to get knowledge and information. Apart from that, she loves traveling and exploring new ravishing places.