The chill is returning to the air, the smell of pine needles is omnipresent, and lights are dotting every house. It is that beautiful time of year, again! Maybe this year, during the holidays, you will gather your family to play a board game! Family Game Night might be more beneficial than you initially would think. It’s a tremendous amount of fun to play games as we reconnect with family and friends during the holidays. If some faces around the table present skepticism, here are some reasons you can give them on how gaming helps keep us together. Board games are beneficial for your cognitive health, easy to find, and promote positive social behavior.
The most straightforward reason to start a game night is that puzzle-solving found in board gaming is a fantastic cognitive exercise. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom have shown that those who play non-digital games experience less cognitive decline in their 70s. For younger brains, board games stimulate growth in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. These brain areas are responsible for complex thought processes and memory formation. Some games offer the opportunity to play cooperatively, which teaches the importance of teamwork and reinforces bonds with others. Many games use foundational mathematics, which can reinforce lessons taught in school. Other skills that board games support include, but are not limited to: set collection, hand (of cards) management, investment, network building, pattern matching, stock holding, commodity speculation, and more! Many games offer families a way to stay mentally fit underneath the guise of a good time.
Board games are now easier than ever to get your hands on. We are experiencing a board game Renaissance. In no other time in history has there been this amount of games produced every year. What started as a couple of hundred games made annually in the early 1900s, that number has swelled into the thousands. While Monopoly, Rummikub, Catan, and more are bona fide classics, board gaming has taken huge strides since those days. With the volume of titles available, it has never been easier to find a game that your family will love. While Target, Walmart, and other large stores sell a plethora of fun titles, consider supporting your Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS) or Online Game Store (OLGS). FLGS/OLGS will have a much broader sampling of the games currently on the market. Most OLGS offer a base 20-30% off of the MSRP of new games. If you find yourself lost on what to get, take a look at CG Gaming’s holiday gift guide for a list of recommendations broken down by age! Other great resources include boardgamegeek.com and boardgameatlas.com. With the modern tools available, it is quick and easy to find your next board game.
At their core, board games are a social activity. I once had a person tell me that the most critical board game component is the player. I hadn’t fully considered that the essential thing about board games are the people playing. Game nights get all the members of the family around a table. In the age of screens, it is nice to have the ability to disconnect. Games nowadays aren’t the three-hour slog that monopoly can be. Most modern board games play from 15 minutes in length to an hour. Having a group activity to all participate in allows for a dynamic social atmosphere that creates conversation! Competition between family members also allows the building of confidence. The laughter that is at every game night also releases happiness-boosting endorphins. As you play games, you will even notice an emergent narrative where someone can be the unlikely hero or someone has a ferocious come-from-behind victory. These stories have been the foundation for countless positive memories for families around the world.
Board games offer various benefits from cognitive development to keeping your brain fit in the long run. Due to a boom in the industry, board games are now easier than ever to find. Maybe this year is the year to start carving out some time to play games with your loved ones. Happy Holidays and may your game night be filled with joy and laughter