Connect with Tabletop Games

When is the last time you sat down to play a game with family or friends? I don’t mean video games (not that I have anything against video games). I’m talking about tabletop games.  You may think these types of games as board games. I like the term tabletop (though most of the time I’m actually playing on the floor) because not all of the games you can play actually have boards.  When you think tabletop games, your mind might go to games like Monopoly, Scrabble, Clue, Chess, The Game of Life, or other family favorites. In recent years however, it seems as though there has been a resurgence in world of tabletop games and there are so many new games to play.  

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This resurgence of games couldn’t come at a better time. The promise of technology to connect the world seems to be a double edge sword. On one hand we are more connected, and we have access to the world and information at our fingertips. But on the other hand, many of us are more isolated than ever before, trading our need for connection with distant “likes.” A saccharin like release of dopamine tricks us into believing we are connected. Most of us who are old enough to remember the time before all this connection know what it means to be truly connected.  My concern is not for us but rather for our children who are growing up in a world where having your face glued to a screen is the norm. 

Interpersonal skills do not develop without practice. Playing games together teaches some of these important skills. Through games, we learn to be competitive while being kind (with guidance). We learn how to deal with losing (again, with proper guidance). We learn problem solving and strategy. In co-op or team games we learn how to work together. Naturally, playing together will strengthen our relationships.  Through games, we learn planning and we learn patience. We learn to read other’s body language while developing a deeper awareness of our own.  

“A game is an opportunity to focus our energy, with relentless optimism, at something we’re good at (or getting better at) and enjoy. In other words, gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression”
— Jane McGonigal

I’ve not seen many games played where there wasn’t laughter.  Playing games triggers the release of endorphins.  Endorphins are chemicals produced by our nervous systems to cope with pain or stress. Often, they are referred to as the “feel-good” chemicals because they relieve pain and boost happiness.  This is the same thing thats going on after exercising, you may have heard of a “runners high”? That’s endorphins.  Low levels of endorphins are often associated with depression. 

There are many more reasons to play games that I’m not going to get into right now. What I will do is give you a recommendations of some games that I like so that you can experience the pleasure and connection that comes with playing games with your loved ones.  

Most played current games: 

  • Unstable Unicorns (easy to learn card game with lots of tricky strategy)

  • King of Tokyo

  • King of New York

Favorite 2-Player Games:

  • Hive (Similar to chess in the way you have to thing but also quite different, easy to learn, probably years to master)

  • Odin’s Ravens (Very simple game with fun tricks to play)

Teams and Co-op:

  • Forbidden Desert (your team crash lands in a desert, work together to stay alive and repair ship to escape)

  • Pandemic (work together to stop the spread of four diseases and to cure them before a pandemic occurs)

Honorable Mentions:

  • Exploding Kittens

  • Flux

  • Carcassonne

  • Save Doctor Lucky

What are you recommended tabletop games?