This post started its life with the title “The Primacy of Board Games”. They are my chosen hobby so of course I want to put them in the primary bucket of life. But, if I am honest (and responsible), board games really don’t fit into that primary bucket. It’s already pretty full. In fact, if something major happened in my life, board games would be one of the first things sacrificed.

At first, this might seem like an indictment of board games as a hobby. Not so fast. Not everything has to be primary or important to be valuable. In fact, if we are to find one of the great values of board gaming as a hobby we must recognize it’s secondary nature. Buried in that is the value.

Primary things in life have high stakes. There would be major fallout if I were to walk away from them. Taking care of my family is primary. My faith is primary. My job is primary (if your job revolves around board games, good for you. I’m not jealous, promise.) But when these things are taken care of I can spend the time I have left doing some lower-stake activities. For me, this means downtime. Relaxation. Recharging. And that is where board games come in for me and why they are so valuable.

We all need time away from all the primary stuff. If everything we did fell into the important category we would be balls of stress rolling around from one primary thing to the next. So, board games filling a secondary space in my life is good. Playing board games is not required. It is something I get to choose to do if I have some free time. I don’t want to be stressed about board games. If I try to shove them into the primary bucket I will end up being stressed that I can’t play them as often as I want. They are the thing I can walk away from and not worry about.

I am OK saying that board games are secondary. That is where their value to me comes from. They are the fun filling between all the (potentially) stressful primary things in life. They are my break from these things. Instead of creating stress, they can relieve it while providing some great fun with other people. They are the calming deep breath between all of the primary things that make doing those primary things easier and even more rewarding. Their secondary nature is one of the things that makes board games as a hobby valuable to me.