We live in a social age, right?. You can communicate with anyone anywhere anytime – texting, email, video calls, online games and communities, not to mention the big social networks – and it is all instantaneous. But, I would argue that even with all of this “socializing”, we are actually less social. The essence of being social isn’t found in the communication, it is found in connection with other people. And this is where board games shine.
Board games are a bit of an oddity in the modern technological world. Instead of screens, bytes, and processors they have cardboard bits and rulebooks. One would think that they would have faded away as a pastime as technology advanced but instead, they are thriving. Board game cafes are popping up everywhere and the board game industry is thriving. Why? In the age of the online video game why analog cardboard bits on a table?
Board games require presence – something that none of the online socializing tools require or offer. You can easily jump in and out of a texting conversation to be distracted by something else but in a board game, you are committed to be present with other people around the table. This face time with something fun helps create real connection.
Board games offer real people feedback. You get to watch other humans smile, frown, gesture, and generally respond to you and the game you are playing. This is so much more connection-building than an emoticon or a like. You can laugh together. Smile together. Be competitive jerks together. You get all of the human nuance in their verbal and nonverbal feedback which creates real connection.
I think we’ve all seen it before. You are sitting in a living room with a bunch of people but no one is talking with each other. They are all looking at their phone’s screen. Or in a restaurant where a couple sits at a table waiting for their food but they are texting someone else. Don’t get me wrong, technology has its place in our lives. But it should not dominate to the detriment of our social connection. People are starved for real connection which is why they turn to these alternatives because they are quicker and easier and seem to satisfy – but only momentarily.
Being social is about building society right? Real connection leads to real relationship which is the foundation of a society. Board games are not the only thing that can fill this role but they sure are a fun one. Playing a board game is a social event of people gathered around a table with a shared purpose and goal: to have fun. And that is a very valuable thing these days.