What’s special about board games?
They bring people together in one place and at one time. Online games allow you to share time but not the same space. Relating to other people is very important. It helps us escape screens, especially now we’re all confined to home.
What’s the best alternative to screens?
First look to see what you have in your cupboards. We can take advantage of what’s there. Playing the Game of the Goose or Ludo can be great. If you have a pack of cards, there are many games suitable for all ages.
And what if we’re bored with them?
You can make your own games, for example, Scrabble. All you need is to make the letters and a board. There are lots of games that use images we can get from old magazines. For example, games guessing who famous people are. You can also change classic games. If we’re playing with small children, we can make each token a character from their favourite series and each can have a special power. We can use boards and make up our own rules. Children have lots of imagination and easily invent new rules. Let them suggest the rules and see if they work.
And if your children are not so small?
Playing with teenagers is a good chance to restore personal contact with them. When we play as a family, conversation topics crop up, and during a game we can talk more easily about issues that can be hard to raise.
And with elderly people?
My mother has Alzheimer’s and so playing the Game of the Goose with her is hard because she can’t even count. But it’s important that old people are not left alone in front of the TV. Maybe they can’t play dominoes now but you can play a game stacking them on top of one another until they fall over. You can practise skills with them and if they have a cognitive problem playing games can help.
Are the classic games still the most popular?
The games that still sell the best are the likes of Monopoly, because they’re what people know. Yet, every year thousands of new games come out. You have to look at what’s out there and choose what suits best.
How many are there to choose from?
There’s a website that lists information on 100,000 games from all eras. I have about 250 but at home we only play about 20.
What’s the best ever board game?
It depends on who you want to play with. Some people say they don’t like board games, but there’s something for everyone. It’s about finding what each person likes.
Are cooperative games more educational than competitive games?
Cooperative games are fine. It’s one way of playing but not the only one. In life there are times when you have to cooperate and others when you must compete. We need to know how to do both things. They’re different skills. The communication and teamwork needed for cooperative games are important, but so are competitive skills.
Are screens the end of board games?
No. In fact, the board game market is in good shape right now, although the figures are nowhere near those for digital games, where one game can make more than many board games put together. I work a lot with schools and they’re aware of the value of board games. We find that kids don’t play them at home. There are things that kids used to know, such as respecting turns. Before, when grandparents lived with families, children used to play more board games.