Here’s the first thing you can expect to hear when most moms and dads pull out the ol’ Monopoly board for the first time…
“Do we HAVE to?!”
Between video games, cell phones, and our favourite TV shows, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to convince the family that, hey, spending time together can actually be kind of fun! Board games don’t let you blow space aliens to Kingdom Come, they don’t let you download the hottest new music videos, and they don’t come with a fully orchestrated soundtrack but you do have something much more valuable: Human bonding. That’s a novel concept in this day and age, to be sure.
The way to see board games is not as a mere entertainment medium. Monopoly, Mindtrap, Clue, they don’t have that instant gratification you’ll find in your Xbox, they don’t attack the synapses without a moment’s hesitation. What they do is they allow for a moment where a group of people sit down together and interact.
The whole point of a board game isn’t even the game itself. The whole point of a board game is that it gets four or five people down at the table, joking around, chatting, getting competitive, arguing over the rules, and, well, generally just having fun in one another’s company.
Video games, movies, TV, they’re all a form of escapism. That’s not to say they can’t be worthwhile. Simple entertainment can enrich a person’s life in its own way, but all that stuff don’t have the basic human element you’ll witness when you see a family sitting around the dinner table with a deck of cards and an extra large pizza.
The importance of bonding with your family can never be stressed enough. There’s no denying it that these days, most families simply don’t spend enough time together. In this economy, you have stay at home parents looking for work, working parents looking for second jobs, teens getting part time gigs after school, the kids at the day care centre most of the week, and the family dog wondering where everyone went. When everyone finally comes home, mom has to balance the budget, dad takes a nap, the teens chat on their cell phones for a few hours, and the kids fight over the Nintendo.
Recent studies have shown that most people surveyed have fewer than two close friends whom they feel they would trust with their lives. Nearly half of those surveyed responded that they had literally no true, close friends. It’s no wonder. Kids are growing up in households where everyone is too busy, too distracted, and they never just sit down and waste a couple of hours having fun together. How do you expect them to really understand what human bonding is all about when it wasn’t a major part of their upbringing?
Board games don’t have the visceral excitement you get from a shootemup video game, they don’t entertain you on a direct, visual level. A board game would truly be boring to play all by yourself. What a board game does is it gives a family a perfect excuse to sit down and bond. It gives you something to talk about as you debate the finer points of the rulebook and what you can do to sweeten the pot when trying to buy The Boardwalk.
So if you want to actually enjoy a board game, have everyone play it and don’t take any excuses. Unplug the phone, turn off the cell phones, switch off the TV, grab a few sodas from the fridge, and keep the conversation going.