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Dec 26 2017
by Jamie Su

8 Benefits of Playing Board Games

By Jamie Su - Dec 26 2017
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Do you remember the days when you had board game sessions with your family and friends? Oh, how easy it is to miss those good old times. Board games may be looked on as nerdy or lame, but really, they're undeniably fun to play and they possess many benefits you may not have known of! Here are eight different ways playing board games is beneficial to your personal growth.

1. They're brain-stimulating.

Scientifically, our brain is programmed to reinforce healthy behaviour. Board games encourage us to master specific skills in the game, like our vocabulary for Scrabble to beat others, win the game and beat previous records. 

2. They make you smarter through enhanced memory.

In order to play a board game well, players must learn the rules of the game and strategize techniques to help them win the game. Doing so involves repetition, which reinforces memory and helps people easily retain information. This allows players to practice applying agile memorization skills.

3. They enhance your knowledge, meaning they may help to improve your grades.

Playing number board games is proven to significantly improve childrens' numerical knowledge. In one study, playing an hour of number games increased low-income preschoolers' knowledge of numerical tasks, with its results lasting for nine weeks whereas other classmates who played games with coloured squares displayed no measures of improvement. It's not too late to enhance your speedy mathematical skills for your calculus class!

4. They're great for socializing!

Board games nights are a fun way to interact with others and have a good time! Humans desire a sense of belonging as they want to socialize, be accepted and be loved by others. So, playing board games with others helps to produce social fun outside the game. 

5. They prevent dementia. 

I know most of us who are reading this are young right now, but hear me out. As we grow older, it's important to continue training our brain to think. Studies have shown that encouraging brain stimulation through the use of board games may be used to prevent the deterioration of one's cognitive memory. You can even play board games with an older relative to ensure that they're actively utilizing their cognitive skills!

6. They're a significant mood booster.

Because playing board games contributes to social fun outside the game, spending some quality time with your friends and family can undoubtedly boost your overall mood and cheer you up! The neurotransmitter that triggers our pleasure and happiness called dopamine is released by rewarding areas of the brain to promote positive behaviour. 

7. Board games speed up your response to changes.

Board games are also proven to increase focus and enhance your ability to make multiple strategic decisions. Players are encouraged to test and try new tactics, which enables them to receive immediate feedback on their moves throughout the game. As a result, board games act as a simulation of real life and teach you how to quickly react to urgent situations. 

8. They're a nice stress reliever.

According to "Moves in Mind: The Psychology of Board Games" by Fernand Gobet, Alex de Voogt and Jean Retschitzki, "The problems we face in our modern society is that our options are so plentiful, the boundaries between right and wrong are not always clear, and we can seldom get a good measurement of the results of our actions. This means that it can many times be difficult for us to decide what we should be doing, and perhaps even more difficult to get the pleasure from knowing that we have done something well." 

Playing board games is an instant stress reliever because you're playing them with your peers for the sake of fun. Games are designed to provide humans with measurable pleasure due to humans' tendency to compare themselves to other people. All games possess an end goal that players must achieve, as well as structured rules that everyone must follow. Psychologically, we are highly motivated to complete activities based on the chance that pleasure outweighs the probability of pain, and so, we are provided with the incentive to play a game in order to win.

Don't fall for the stereotype that playing board games is nerdy or lame. In fact, it's admirable if you're an expert at the game of chess or Sudoku. I know that Words With Friends is a more modern game of Scrabble you can play on your phone, but take the time to visit a board game cafe or pull out some of your childhood games to play with your friends and family. You may be pleasantly surprised by how much fun it can be and you can take into account the many benefits of playing board games!

Lead Image Credit: Hannah Rodrigo via Unsplash

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Jamie Su - University of Waterloo

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