The Forgotten Art of the Board Game


I am visiting my cousins in St. Louis and this evening they are going to hold their biweekly Game Night where they invite family and friends over to play board games.

They invited me to join them and I told them I would love to. The Game Night is a tradition that I remember in my childhood. I lived in Germany for a year after college and the board game or Brettspiel tradition was strong there, with adults commonly giving them as presents to other adults and not just to children.

I kept the tradition of the board game alive in my immediate family, and was a great fan of board games made in Europe (particularly Germany). At holiday time when I visited my cousins, I would always bring some new and interesting game I had discovered.

However, I found as I lived abroad in Japan after graduate school, and then in New York and Los Angeles, that fewer and fewer people were interested in playing board games as video games had practically completely displaced them. My collection of board games ended up languishing in my mini-storage unit.

So it was delightful not only to see my cousins, but to realize that they have kept this tradition alive. What do I find so fascinating about board games?

1. They are fun! Our family likes games that involve word play like Balderdash.

2. They are interactive, and like card games are great at breaking the ice and allowing even the normally introverted to come out of their shell.

3. They are inclusive because they
allow everybody to interact and join in, even those who are only spectating and not even playing the game.

4. The European games in particular are beautiful because the board and components are simple but elegant in design.

5. Board games are leisurely in that they can take an hour or more and so provide a chance for “quality time” with friends or family.

For these reasons, I am happy to revisit the quaint tradition of Game Night with my cousins. It is a reminder of happy times from childhood, and a chance to stop the world, stop time, and enjoy the present having fun together with my extended family.

If you’re interested in starting a Game Night tradition of your own, go to the Funagain Games website and choose from one of their recommendations. You’ll receive a box filled with potential good times in return!

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2 Responses

  1. So Jerome, what are your favorite German games? My family is a big fan of Carcassonne. We have done a bit with Settlers of Catan too.

    • Well, you certainly picked two favorites of mine. The thing about Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan are that they have a lot of expansions and room for variety. The fact that you essentially assemble the map of the game as you play it make them intriguing for younger players. There are some board games like Tikal by Wolfgang Kramer that are also good because they involve some strategy. I am so glad that there are families out there like yours that still interact via board games!

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