Being one of the first to admit that I have a very dorky board game obsession, I’ve been playing a lot of them lately. It all started when my best friend and I decided Clue was the best way to keep ourselves entertained while the boys were grocery shopping on vacation (Imagine 2 girls in their 20s giggling like 5 year olds as they try to convince the guys they aren’t drunk. The only thing convincing enough was sniffing out orange juice as proof that we didn’t spike it and we were really just that lame). This all lead up to yesterday–a game of Apples to Apples with my neighbor and dad–and then it hit me: board games teach us a lot of life lessons and things about ourselves that would not otherwise be realized.
I guess I’ll start out with that example. Without Apples to Apples, I would have never learned something about myself that I now find rather important (Okay, maybe not important but I am proud of my weirdness here). And that thing is: I think that chocolate milk is valuable. It probably sounds really stupid (Okay, it is really stupid) but let me try to explain myself (and redeem what little coolness credit I had). In my hand, I had some really bad cards. I had things like guitar, ice, scientists, sharp knife. It was hard finding a red card for any of the green ones. So when my dad’s turn as judge rolled around and he pulled the valuable card, I figured out of everything, I would consider chocolate milk to fit it the best (Dad and Devin understood. I really like chocolate. It should be its own food group and require more of it than anything else for daily nutrition–especially when it comes in the form of almond milk). So, I lost the hand and the game, but I learned something.
Then there’s the Big Bang Theory game I recently bought. My boyfriend and I knew we had to get it because we love the
show and we finally had a way to determine who knew the show better. Or so we thought. What did this game teach us? It taught us that we really aren’t all that smart nor do we know the show all that well. Okay, maybe we do get more of the actual science questions right than Big Bang questions (Seriously, who created this game and thought we would know the answers to some of those questions? I love the show but there is no way I would remember some of that stuff). The only upside to this game: we can at least beat our friends who don’t watch the show religiously like us. It did teach us another thing, too–that we both have some huge egos (But we already knew this about Michael. It was only a shocker about me because I’m never cocky or anything). Well, maybe there is another upside…we get a legitimate reason to play Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock (Thank you, Sheldon, Big Bang Creators, and Game Designers).
The final game that really taught us some stuff about ourselves was bought by a friend. It’s called What the F*uck? and is an amazing drinking game. The premise is that a person rolls 3 dice and is asked the corresponding question that has 2 possible answers. The other players must decide which answer they think the dice roller answered. If they get it wrong, they must drink however many times the question corresponds to. We learned that we would do some crazy stuff. My best friend would do naked in a pit of glass shards for front row tickets to see her favorite band (None of us–including her boyfriend–got this one right. Really, Kat? It’s not worth it). We also learned that Kat would also be weird enough to eat a box of hair in order to get on her favorite reality show. Yeah, this doesn’t make any sense to me. She would eat a box of hair so she could get on Fear Factor…where she could be forced to eat bugs…or a box of hair.
All of this lead me to do a little research to see if I’m actually right and board games do have more of a benefit than keeping me entertained. Apparently, they do.
According to this Yahoo! article, they help children learn a lot of things (Hey! Let’s not be discriminatory here. They teach those of us who are…okay, just bigger children learn stuff too). Candyland teaches colors and cause and effect. Sure, it can probably teach that. I’m pretty sure I already knew my colors when I played this. And the only thing I was thinking was that I wanted to win and living in Candyland would be really awesome (I still think this. I mean all that ice cream and the gingerbread house and lollipop forest. I would have cavities like crazy but I wouldn’t complain one bit). So, maybe I still really like playing Candyland.
Chutes and Ladders supposedly teaches us counting and more about positive and negative consequences. Once again, I’m pretty sure all I was worried about was winning (Even though I always thought going down that really big slide would be awesome in real life).
What I like most of all about this article is that it reinforces my desire to play Clue (Come on. Everyone knows it was the best game out of all of them. And we may have watched the movie, which was possibly slightly awesome). My dear Clue teaches us critical and analytical thinking as we deduce who committed the crime. Sure. I’ll get on board with that if it means I seem like less of a loser. Really, though, I just always thought the house was freaking sweet. I mean all those fancy rooms and the secret passages. Plus, I was always Miss Scarlet and everyone knows she’s the coolest.
The lessons don’t only benefit children apparently. I found another article that says board games teach us financial lessons (Yeah, apparently despite the fact I love playing Pay Day and Life, I still didn’t learn anything. Maybe I should’ve been paying more attention to that instead of my endless need to win and I’d be better with money).
It starts with a game that I hated as a child and hate even more now: Monopoly (Seriously, when you have to play it for a week straight and fill out accounting stuff for it during a class, you would loathe it as well. Plus, it takes so freaking long. I do not have the attention span for this). Luck plays a big part in success with money is one of the lessons. Yep, luck is part of it…and my compulsive shopping habit. I’m pretty sure I learned just to spend as much money as possible from this game. Can I blame that on my excessive money spending on clothes I don’t need? I’m going to go with yes, yes I can.
But my favorite from this article is about Life. They point out that we learn whoever dies richest, wins. I don’t know if I would consider death of any kind a win but yeah, they probably win at life more than I do if they have a lot of money. Really, though, I would say the descendents of those who have someone rich die, wins (They get to inherit it and pay like zero taxes for money they did nothing to deserve after all). The best lesson learned from this game though comes in a form that I love (I mean, seriously, a five-year old come have come up with this one): Stuff happens. A lot of just random stuff happens that causes us financial decisions. Good job, those of you who wrote this article. You not only just made the most profound argument I have ever heard but you used Occam’s Razor in a way that made me laugh (Simplest is always the best in an argument, after all).
I feel a sense of accomplishment knowing that all my lameness and board game playing can teach me something (Whether or not I learn these lessons is a whole different story). Apparently, what I’ve figured out is nothing new and groundbreaking though (I know, there are board games that are specifically designed for teaching but I was only talking about those that are not). I found that there has been like actual research done on this (I found this scholarly journal on it. I didn’t read it yet but I saw Lord of the Rings and Hobbit and got a little curious so I clicked). No matter how lame all of this is, I’m going to embrace my love for board games and keep being as lame as possible (Seriously, how can playing Uno with your boss while you are supposed to be working and having customers join you come off as lame in any way? That’s right it can’t. Because it’s awesome).
Side Note: I did a really quick scroll through the journal and saw the words World of Warcraft a lot so I’m going to guess it’s not exactly the type of games I like to play (I may be nerdy but I like games that require a lot less thinking and strategy).