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What Makes Board Games Fun?

What Makes Board Games Fun?

You’ve likely heard of board games like Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, and Candyland. But have you ever heard of Senet? This ancient board game was popular in Egypt circa 2600 C.E. While its rules are still up for debate, one thing is for sure: board games have been around since the dawn of civilization. And if I had to guess, it’s because they’re so much fun!

Board games are fun because they bring people together. Also, research shows that board games not only build interpersonal relationships, but they also have a slew of educational benefits. Even the simplest board game can teach problem-solving skills, cooperation, and teamwork. 

Game-based learning is an emerging innovation that promotes growth. Continue reading to learn more about what makes board games fun and how you can use these tools to your benefit.

Board Games Improve Social Interactions

A study conducted by BioPsychoSocial Medicine set out to prove that board games were invaluable social-building tools. By using games like chess, Go, and Shogi, they were able to determine that board games:

  • Increase memory retention, especially among those with cognitive impairments
  • Encourage problem-solving and communication skills
  • Improve the understanding of new concepts
  • Address conditions like ADHD and autism 

Board games also provided motivation for players to reach a common goal, which contributed to social engagement.

Board Games Promote Learning

Student engagement is crucial to the retention of information. Without making connections and encouraging a student to expand their horizons, teachers cannot expect academic growth. Board games are just one way to integrate entertainment and education.

The following are a list of educational games that are proven to increase knowledge retention, memorization, and critical thinking:

There are even some games that are purposefully designed as learning tools. For instance, Codemaster by ThinkFun is intended to build the skills needed for computer programming.

Board Games Use Manipulatives

According to Forbes, board games’ sales boosted during the COVID-19 pandemic, as more and more people wanted to expand their entertainment avenues. Monopoly, the Game of Life, and even Play-Doh saw impressive sales.

In the technological era, one might think that board games just can’t compete with video games. Judging from previous sales records, this is not the case. Rolling dice, playing cards, and using tangible game pieces are simply not the same as holding a controller.

Video games have tried to make the crossover into utilizing manipulatives with some success. Gamers might recognize Amiibo figures and cards intended to build a bridge between the virtual and the physical. While Nintendo saw some success, it was primarily due to collectors––and not on the worldwide scale they were expected. They shortly discontinued some of the less popular cards and figurines.

Simply put: people like touching things. Even if the game pieces eventually end up scattered on the floor of your room, there is no denying the kinesthetic appeal.

Everybody Loves a Friendly Competition

Playing Jenga by yourself is alright at first, but soon enough, you’ll grow tired of being your only opponent. Competitions aren’t just contests; they’re feats of wit, strategy, and communication. While multiplayer online games allow for friendly competitions, they simply cannot compare to face-to-face interaction.

With the competitions presented by board games:

  • Players can hone their interpretation skills when reading rulebooks and hand guides.
  • Players are encouraged to communicate with one another to finish the game.
  • Players can separate their personal relationships from the task at hand.
  • Players find their bonds strengthen when working together.

Fun Board Games to Try Out

Unsurprisingly, chess is the best-selling game of all time; the game dates back to the 1200s, and since then, has evolved into a worldwide phenomenon. But is it the best-rated game of all time? Or the most fun?

The fact is, no singular study has been conducted regarding a game’s enjoyability. This would require testing every game ever made. However, if we view a game’s sales in correlation with its rating, some board games may be considered the most fun, at least according to Amazon’s “best-sellers” filter:

  • Connect Four, the iconic Hasbro game, has over 45,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. The game was released in the mid-70s by the now-defunct Milton Bradley and continues to be a fun board game for all ages.
  • The Disney Matching game has over 21,000 reviews and also has five stars on Amazon. In this game, players draw from a deck of cards until they match two characters—a fun memory game for younger players!
  • Zingo: Bingo with a Zing is designed to teach elementary school-aged children to read. Using a bingo card and sliding plastic shuffler, kids can play bingo and build literacy at the same time.

Other top contenders include Sorry!, Settlers of Catan, and Monopoly.

In Conclusion

As you can see, there’s no exact reason why board games are fun.Because of their ability to bring people together and how well they involve the senses and teach new information, board games have maintained a strong foothold over the years—and probably will continue to do so for many years more.