The Resurgence of Board Games
We may live in a world where we are constantly surrounded by technology yet consumers are increasingly seeking out entertainment from board games. According to the Global Outlook and Forecast Report by The Board Games Market, the market size is expected to reach over $12 billion by 2023, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CPGR) of more than 9% from between 2017-2023. Sites like Kickstarter have been a huge catalyst in terms of driving the attention back to tabletop games. The charts below show the significant increase in earnings from the tabletop sector in comparison to video games from 2015-2018.
Some other reasons for this resurgence can be attributed to:
1. Critical Mass Multiplication
Games such as Monopoly, Clue, Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride have had such a long shelf life and have sold over millions of copies. This critical mass essentially is multiplicative. This could happen through word of mouth or the case where you get invited to a party and in turn, buy the game because you had so much fun and decide to host one of your own!
2. Social Media
The presence of social media has made it so simple to explore and learn new games in the market. With visual online walkthroughs and reviews, learning new games has never been this easy. It is also a great way to get involved in tabletop gaming forums, clubs and cafes in your area which expands your network as well as social interaction.
3. Less Screen Time
With the amount of screen time embedded in our lives today, tabletop games provide a refreshing time away from them. Although the online world provides access to amazing content, it's essential that we turn away from it every once in a while to participate in social interaction. It also acts as a tool for an emotional connection to evolve as now the majority of people are struggling to find the balance between digital and offline connections & board games provide a great avenue to grow these connections.
21st Century Skills
With traditional learning falling short of providing students with the relevant skillsets they need, the gap between what they are learning and what they need is becoming bigger and bigger. 21st-century skills are behavioural competencies that your child will need to navigate the future world. These include creativity, complex problem solving and critical thinking, which have been highlighted as the top three skills according to the Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF). These are mainly developed through social and emotional learning (SEL) which directly impacts their academic as well as their happiness and success as adults. As the world becomes more complex and is constantly changing, children will need the ability to adapt, focus and most importantly, be able to interpret the world they live in with the right tools.
Top 10 Games
What if I told you that those 3 hour long sessions playing Monopoly, dice rolling and strategising over which territory you’d like to "own" actually had long-term benefits? The following list of tabletop games is especially great for boosting 21st-century skills.
1. Captain Sonar
Captain Sonar is a competitive board game about submarines. It is best known as a ridiculously simple yet complex version of Battleships. In this game, players are split into 2 teams who will be seated across each other and will be separated by a cardboard divider. Each player will then be given a specific role to take on. The objective of the game is to simply balance and manoeuvre your team's submarine into a firing position while avoiding becoming a target for your opposing team at all costs.
Skills: Communication, Analytical Thinking
Players are each given different roles which they would have to manage and give instructions accordingly in this game. Manoeuvring your submarine requires your team to creatively think and come up with new ways to evade the opposing team. Handling several tasks at once also requires multi-tasking skills as well as the ability to carefully analyse an unexpected situation and come up with the best possible solution for it. Aside from that, teams will also need to communicate effectively and efficiently as if one team member makes a wrong move, the entire team's strategy will be affected.
2. Magic Maze
Magic Maze is a real-time, cooperative game where players, after being stripped off all their possessions are all trapped in a mall and are trying to perform a heist to escape the mall before the timer runs out. The trick here is that no verbal communication is allowed in the game. Players will each be given directions which they can be move in to manoeuvre the characters.
Skills: Communication, Planning, Optimisation
Not being able to communicate only means that your entire team will have to constantly be aware of what is going on at any point in time. Coming up with a strategy without being able to speak takes a great deal of creative thinking to find a way out of the mall before time is up. In this game, each player can also move in a specific direction. Thus, they would have to carefully optimize their time with proper planning.
Sub-terra is a co-operative game where cavers have to escape an unexplored and unexpected network of subterranean tunnels before they run out of time. Players each take on different roles and are required to reveal "tunnel" tiles on each turn while surviving elements of bad events - gas leaks, floods, rubbles and even horrors. The deck of cards are finite and when they do run out, players' chance of survival diminishes significantly as time goes by.
Skills: Quick Thinking, Long Term vs Short Term Goals, Problem Identification
Revealing tiles without knowing the outcome of it requires players to be able to think on their feet in terms of their strategy and their next move. It also forces players to think of long-term and short term goals as each tile revealed has a specific consequence. Being able to foresee incoming problems and planning out players' next moves also requires problem identification skills.
4. Who Goes There
Who Goes There is a co-operative board game of paranoia. All players start off as "humans" and are required to build, trade and upgrade to prepare themselves for the Antarctic Terrains, rabid dog attacks, temperature drops and most importantly, the "thing" that is on the lose on the campsite. The objective is to get out of the campsite without getting an infection from the "thing".
Skills: Allocating Limited Resources & Constraints, Negotiation, Strategizing
Having limited resources at hand requires players to be able to plan out how they are going to allocate and use up their resources throughout the game. Trading resources is also an important aspect of the game as through the different phases of the game, players require different resources. However, trading resources also come with the consequence of being infected by the "thing". This requires players to carefully come up with a strategy to stay safe and creatively avoid the infection at all costs.
Dixit is a tabletop game that features cards full of whimsical paintings, symbolic meanings and illusions. On each turn, players will come up with a description for the card he or she receives and say it out loud. This can either be in a form of a word, phrase or in relation to a popular cultural symbol. After which, the remaining players will play a card that resonates with the description the most. Once all cards are played, they will then be mixed together and players will have to figure out which was the original card that was played.
Skills: Improvisation, Quick Thinking
The tricky part of the game is that you will not get points if no one is able to guess your original card. But if everyone else manages to guess your card, they each score 2 points. This means that you would have to carefully and creatively come up with words and descriptions to be as ambiguous as possible to make it more challenging. This game also requires players to work on their improvisation skills to be able to come up with a phrase on the spot.
6. Space Cadets
Space Cadets is a co-operative game where players are all part of a crew on an Interstellar Spaceship. Players take on the role of Bridge Officers on a Spaceship and must complete certain tasks to successfully complete the mission. If everyone is able to effectively work together to complete the mission, they might just make it home in one piece!
Skills: Multi-Tasking, Cooperation, Complex Problem Solving
Players each have a specific role and are required to perform certain tasks simultaneously throughout the game. They are only given 30 seconds to perform each task and so, they are required to be quick enough to see the big picture. Some players may even have multiple roles in this game so the ability to multi-task and work under pressure of a timer is crucial in the gameplay. Cooperating to come up with a relevant strategy in the discussion phase is important as well.
Pandemic is a co-operative board game where several virulent diseases have broken out and players have to all work together to treat hotspots while searching for cures for each of the four plagues before it's too late. On a players turn, they can either travel between cities, treat infected populaces, discover a cure or build a research station.
Skills: Problem Solving, Teamwork, Interpersonal, Decision Making
Players must carefully plan out their strategy to work together with the other specialists' strengths to conquer the diseases. Teamwork and co-operation play a key part in this game. The ability to have interpersonal skills to effectively work with each other is also a key trait needed to survive this game. Decision making is also required in this game as players would have to make decisions based on long term and short term goals.
8. A Fake Artist Goes To New York
A Fake Artist Goes To New York is a sketching game where players will take turns to be the Question Master - who will pick a category and write a word describing that category on a card which will then be handed out to the remaining players. One player, however, will only receive a card with an "X" marked on it - the fake artist. Players will then go around the table twice and draw, with continuous strokes on a piece of paper to depict what the Question Master initially drew. After which, players will make a guess as to who the "fake artist" is. If not caught, both the fake artist and the Question Master earn points but if the fake artist is caught and is unable to guess the word, the remaining players earn the points.
Skills: Negotiation, Persuasion, Pattern Recognition
The challenge comes in when players have to find a balance between showing what they know and without making it obvious for the "fake artist". The best drawing skills do not triumph here, but the ability to recognise patterns from other players' strokes, convince and negotiate the way through the game to remain "hidden" is key here.
9. Windup War
Windup War is a competitive game where players plan their army's course of action to take down your surrounding enemies. Players will program their units' actions and strategically snipe their targets. The objective is simply to be the last standing army to win. With 6 different army units, the possible configurations that your army can come up with for a strategy are endless!
Skills: Lateral Thinking, Quick Thinking, Planning Ahead
In this game, players will need to plan out their attacks to destroy their opponents' armies beforehand. This is done using laying out a combination of different attacks in front of them. Planning ahead and coming up with a different strategy at every round requires players to be quick on their feet in terms of thinking about what their next sequence of attacks is going to be to effectively knock down their opponents' armies. Being able to come up with creative approaches to attack enemies unexpectedly, which is also known as lateral thinking, is also a skill needed in this game.
10. Settlers of Catan
Settlers of Catan is a strategic board game that sort of mixes Risk and Monopoly. Players aim to be the dominant force on the island by building settlements, cities and roads. Each turn will determine what type of resources the island will produce. They will then have to accumulate resources like wood, grain, brick, ship and stone to build up their civilizations.
Skills: Relational Dynamics, Resource Management, Negotiation
In this game, players will need to trade resources in exchange for those they need. Players will thus need to learn how to navigate through the relational dynamics that are present between other players. They would need to be aware of what everyone has and what they are doing. Aside from that, managing your resources to allocate them is vital when it comes to building settlements.
Why should we play board games?
As kids, we focus so much on learning through play; that is where our imagination can truly run wild to have innocent fun. However, this does not have to be the case as we enter adulthood. George Land's creativity study has revealed that as we age, we slowly become less creative. Creativity is not learned but rather, unlearned. Not only do board games teach you a whole list of relevant skills but they are also a great way to destress and to connect with the people around you, something that has been significantly lost due to the presence of technology embedded into our lives.
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