With so many physical games, sports activities, computer games and interactive toys, it might be considered something of a surprise that traditional board games have remained so popular, and yet there is a greater variety of board games available today than ever before, and these cater for a much wider age group as well.
The definition of board games is quite difficult, since there are the traditional examples that really are played upon a board, such as Ludo, Chess, Monopoly and Scrabble, and then there are games which build upon a board, such as Mouse Trap, and then have parts of the game built within the board, such as Operation. There are even examples of games where the board becomes so big that the people become the playing pieces, such as Twister.
There are even some traditional board games that have been expanded to become playground games, such as Chess or Draughts, and the board is painted on the ground, sometimes as much as ten feet square, with the laying pieces a foot high, and then players can walk around the board, and play with friends watching, almost in teams. This helps to bring a quiet solo activity out into the fresh air and involving more people.
Involving people as a group is really what board games are all about, and it is a very good thing that today there are many families that are happy to all gather around a board game and use it as a focal point for the family chat and gossip, rather than all facing away from each other and focussing on the television, or disappearing off to their own rooms and places. Board games bring people together, quite apart from any other benefits they may have.
There are certainly challenging board games that rely on brainpower, deduction and good thinking, such as Monopoly and the various detective games available, or those that require careful dexterity, calm nerves and patience. Some games of course rely purely on luck, but actually fairly few.
There are many board games available today which traditionally have been adult games, or at least suitable only for older children, yet have been redesigned and produced as scaled down, or otherwise adjusted in some way to suit younger children. One example is junior versions of scrabble, with a smaller board, more score squares, a better range of letters and the ability to score well using a vocabulary more suited to a child.
Some of the most successful games are those which allow children and adults to play together, and that look colourful and interesting, with simple rules, and a combination of both luck and skill. The adults might be more skilful and play tactically, but are subject to bad luck in just the same way as children are able to benefit from good luck. This kind of game can develop with the child as they grow older, and give them worthwhile opportunities to be with adults in a relaxed but competitive environment. It is often over a board games that incidental chat can take place which reveals more about members of the family than would otherwise be revealed, and encourages easier communication. It also, to some extent, helps to teach the child about tactics, logic, planning and teamwork – all very worthwhile skills in themselves.