Board games have offered centuries of entertainment for civilization. From the venerable chess to the malicious Monopoly, the cultivated Catan or serious Scrabble, board games are a delight for every age group and skill level – depending on the game of course.
Even the world’s greatest board games, with a few very notable exceptions, can be found for a budget price, and can be a great way to squeeze hours of entertainment out of your dollar. They have a fantastic effect on emotional and mental health too, which we’ll cover. First, this guide will help you find what to look for when buying a budget board game.
What Age Are the Players?
The age of the people who are playing the game is a major factor in deciding which board game will be right for you and your guests. This is a serious consideration because, you don’t want to bring out a game that is too childish, but you also do not want to get a game that will offend guests or make them uncomfortable.
How Many Players?
Unless the get together is large and the game is only meant to keep smaller groups entertained at their leisure, everyone present usually plays a board game when it is brought out. Many times, people come to a get-together specifically to play a game.
Therefore, it is important for you to be aware of how many people will be playing the game at one time. You don’t want to leave anyone out, but you also don’t want to be short of players. Either way, that isn’t fun. So, pay attention to the number of players the game can accommodate before making your final decision.
Competitive or Cooperative?
There are plenty of games that give you these option in varying degrees. Do you want to play an every-person-for-themselves game, do you want to play in teams (also, are there enough people for teams?), or do you want to all work toward a common goal? In the latter case, it would be you and your friends/family against the game mechanics, which is an interesting concept.
What Difficulty Level?
The level of involvement that is required for games both mentally and physically can range extensively. Therefore, before you choose a board game, you are going to need to decide the level of involvement and what type of involvement you are looking for. Do you want to have to participate physically, by singing or dancing? Do you want to have a mental challenge? Or, do you just want to play a game that requires little effort?
How Long Is the Board Game?
Length varies depending on the game. For instance, Monopoly is a notoriously long game. Yet, there are also games that only take 20-30 minutes so might not last the whole evening’s entertainment. This is especially true if you are having a good, old-fashioned game night. Most players would want to have at least an hour of gameplay to really have a chance to get into the game.
Although, this is completely preferential and dependent on the time you and your group want to spend on one game. Maybe you are having a tournament and you want to play as many different games as possible. In that case, you would want to have many quick-play games. However, if your group has more intense, serious game players in it, you’re going to want to pick a game that challenges them.
What are the Benefits of Playing Board Games?
Board games can help strengthen our mental health and reduce our stress. Board games are the perfect blend of social interaction, mental agility, and of course fun, that helps players find lasting psychological benefits from playing.
Improve Mental Health
Playing board games is a fun activity. Therefore, it helps release endorphins in your body, which makes you happier. The more you play board games, the more those endorphins will be released. This therapeutic release will help decrease depression.
Additionally, board games are credited with helping to build self-confidence. Through the gameplay, children and adults alike will be included and can express themselves creatively. This will help people of all ages have a positive association with their own internal abilities.
Increases Social Interaction
Board games help people unplug and get together. Nowadays, it is difficult to find a reason to physically sit down at a table, talk face-to-face and enjoy nothing more than one another’s company. We are always connected digitally but board games help people interact in the real world.
Whether this is with friends, loved ones or even people that you are just meeting, playing a board game can help you develop a bond that is conceived from a positive experience.
Board games are fun but that is not the primary reason they are good are de-stressing you. The reason board games help decrease stress is because playing is a distraction from the real world. Focusing on a game gets your mind to think about something other than your life and the difficulties you are facing. If you allow yourself to get sucked into the world that a board game creates, your brain and mental state are granted relief. This helps you recharge and possibly even come back from the game with a different perspective.
Plus, when you play a board game, you often laugh. When you laugh, your body releases Cortisol and other stress hormones. This and other hormones released when you are laughing manages your body’s use of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, it decreases inflammation, regulates blood pressure, as well as boosting your energy. This is all essential for managing stress and feeling physical relief from the symptoms stress creates.
What Are the Health Benefits of Playing Board Games?
Board games help with self-growth, confidence, stress relief, and social interaction – but are they truly beneficial to a player’s physical health? Yes. Here are the different ways that board games increase a player’s health:
Increases Brain Function
Regardless of your age, playing games helps to strengthen memory formation and complex thought-processes. Therefore, people of any age can learn to be better decision-makers, strategists, and problem solvers, just by playing board games.
Reduces Cognitive Decline
Playing board games helps to exercise different portions of the mind. This keeps the mind sharp and helps to speed up your response time. Giving yourself (and loved ones) a playful challenge that keeps them plotting and planning helps ward off the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Plenty of people throughout the United States struggle with high blood pressure. While board games are not a substitute for medication, the release of endorphins that occurs when playing board games does aid in lowering and stabilizing blood pressure.
Strengthens your Immune System
Research has shown that playing games help strengthen your immune system in two ways; the first is the release of endorphins which reduces stress and therefore, boosts the immune system. However, the second way is that games can activate your survival genes. This activation ultimately tells your brain cells that they need to live longer and that helps your body fight disease.
How Do Board Games Help Strategic Thinking?
Many board games were developed out of the need to enhance military strategy. However, that doesn’t mean this benefit is restricted to combat strategy. Board games like those on this list help us to learn planning and strategy skills in a safe, playful environment that we can develop into our own real-life goals.
The best part is this is not a conscious decision. Most people do not sit down at a game night and go into it with the intention of developing their planning and strategy skills. Rather, the engaging aspect of the game, the atmosphere, and the desire to achieve the goal of the game creates the right conditions all on their own.
Our minds simply react to the game and exercise our planning and strategy skills. Then, when we are faced with making a strategic decision in the real world, we use the experience of the game to help us work through the process of coming to a solution.
In summary, playing board games is a time-honored tradition, with benefits that extend way past the simple act of having fun. Whether you are having a game night with your friends, or you are sharing a cherished memory with your children, playing a board game has a plethora of different benefits.
So, what game are you going to play tonight?