Play is important at any age. It improves the cognitive functions, encourages creativity, and fosters the math and logic skills of children. A National Institutes of Health study found that mental training, including strategy games, not only improved short-term cognitive function in adults but had effects ten years after the study’s activities. The study also suggested a significant reduction in Alzheimer’s risk through active brain stimulation with physical things including puzzles and board or card games.
In recent years, there has been an explosion of ways for people to play games. From phone apps to console gaming, to traditional board and card games, there are unlimited opportunities to enjoy a play experience. But for many adults, there’s a stigma specifically attached to playing board games. Perhaps it’s because we play games as children, and we associate games with that age group.
When you sit down to play a board or card game with a child, they “get it.” Children understand immediately that games are fun, that they usually enjoy them, and they are often eager to participate in them. This even extends to chores! It’s no surprise that people work better in a variety of activities and tasks if an element of play is introduced. So, for children, “scoring points” for the completion of household tasks or project milestones is as natural as any other activity that they might engage in.
Adults, on the other hand, often prove a challenge. There are two prevalent myths:
MYTH #1: Games are played by kids.
Rather than simply launching into a game, adults often require some convincing that board games can be played, and even enjoyed.
How to Overcome it: Make the game a small part of a larger social gathering. Introducing an age-appropriate activity for guests to voluntarily participate in can increase comfort levels and make the group more willing to embrace games in the future. Choose a game that will be interesting to your guests (either with the theme or the play), and draw them in with it!
MYTH #2: Games are made for kids.
Once you get over the stigma of play, you have the challenge of embarrassment and confusion to address. People who have had bad experiences or who don’t want to play poorly may be fearful of the rules or strategy involved. The complexity and intricacy of the physical design of many strategic board games (from the art design on the board itself to the rules of play) can be daunting at any age
How to Overcome it: Either choose games that are easily adopted by any player, regardless of skill level, or, appoint someone who knows the game well and has the patience to explain it to introduce the rules. This helps players recognize that they are in a non-judgmental space meant for fun.
Games are social – you play board and card games with people to have a shared experience. Playing games encourages interaction and response. This shared experience begins as soon as the box is opened and players start sorting out the cards, choosing their tokens and going over the instructions.
A good board game gives players of any age ways to interact with each other and have an experience outside of their everyday world.
And, who doesn’t like a chance to win?