Negative Stereotypes and misconceptions about board games
Gaming is awesome and good for mental health, but still very much misunderstood. I always try and stay away from negatives, but we have decided to challenge some of the negative stereotypes surrounding board gaming. These could be the barrier than needs to be knocked aside to welcome new folks into the hobby, where they can find many hours of fun and meet new people.
I partially agree. There are some games I find boring, but there are thousands of games ( approx. 13,000) on Board Game Geek the IMDB of board games.
It is likely this misconception stems from games which tended to have three major flaws which are not very common in games made in the last 25 years. These are :-
1) Limited choice, decisions or strategy. Roll a dice and move.
2) Player elimination. You are out of the game and have to just watch, possibly for several hours
3) Takes too long / out stays its welcome.
You can’t judge all board games on Monopoly which was made in 1936 or Risk from 1957 (one of the first games to use dice for combat)
Consider what other kinds of entertainment was around then. Risk was made 10 years before colour TV!
Pacman and Pong are not all video games. Monopoly is not all board games.
Modern board games, what I call games made in the last 30 year or so, (Catan 1995) often have lots more decisions and you are not dependent on dice. Often decisions are based on a range of actions you can pick either by placing something on a board or by playing cards or combinations of cards. Some games have cards which can be played in several different ways giving wonderful choices for example for the action or the resource value.
Very few games now have player elimination and most have a way for the game to end, whether that is a fixed number of turns or when a deck of cards is emptied. Very few good modern games out stay their welcome in length.
Modern games are very varied from 5 minutes to many hours and will often feature very rich themes. For example, you can be a Star Wars X- Wing pilot or a barbarian or a textile merchant. Often you will take turns simultaneously or are able to interact on other players’ turns, keeping you involved and engaged rather than waiting for your turn.
Another factor is gaming as a social activity. Try playing with different people, who are less competitive or better at explaining games and see how you enjoy the experience. Any experiences can be ruined by the wrong crowd.
Games may not be for you, but there are many, many games out there so open your mind and give a few a go before you judge.
Games clubs are unwelcoming
Again, this may be true in some cases but not all. Herefordshire Board Gamers and many other clubs, cafes and conventions try extremely hard to be welcoming by having good signage, friendly games teachers and greeters. A great culture, backed up by a code of conduct means many game spaces are very welcoming and will bend over backwards to make people feel welcome and included. Bad behavior is not tolerated in most places so report any issues and give the club or venue the benefit of the doubt.
Every club or group will have their own culture, some focusing on a single aspect of the hobby perhaps wargames or role play games. Do try more than one club and find one where the culture suits you as well as the games that are played.
Perhaps swap the word gamer with another group of people or venue and see how it reads…. Pubs are unwelcoming…
I personally haven’t noticed this, but if you get enough people in a small space with bad ventilation it may happen. The bigger conventions do challenge this by having refresh stations including deodorant.
I’m not saying this doesn’t happen. I’m sure it doesn’t but I believe this is an unfair stereotype and venues / hosts do actively challenge guests with hygiene issues.
Games are for kids / Games are a waste of time
There is a stigma that gaming is shameful, only for children or a waste of time. Perhaps some adults have forgotten how to have fun. Play and relaxation time is so important. You should work to live not live to work.
Do what you enjoy and don’t judge other people’s hobbies.
There are games for children, adults and everything in between. Gaming is an incredibly mentally healthy and valuable pastime. It’s great for socialisation, learning and staying sharp.
Games are too easy / Games are too hard
ThereThere are literally thousands of games; some will be too hard or too easy for you, or too wordy or too extrovert. Find a game you do like, do some research and ask in community spaces or attend a games night and they can recommend you more that are similar.
There are some great new games which take classic games like Yahtzee (King of Tokyo), Guess Who (Dinosaur Tea Party) and Dominos (Kingdomino) and make them into beautiful and engaging games. These are ideal as gateway games to learn more about what you like and build your confidence.
I’m too old / too stupid to play games
Absolutely not. There are games from beautiful and simple like Rhino Hero or Timelines or those based on classics like Dinosaur Tea Party which is basically Guess Who but up to four players. There is very likely a game out there for you. Find it, love and don’t be embarrassed by it even it’s not a game you’d expect to love.
I have found lots of adults and older children worry about making mistakes or looking foolish. They may want to get things right first time or win or have forgotten how to learn and to learn from mistakes. Games are about socialising, learning, and trying new things. Even if you don’t get all the rules first time, try again. Finding the right game and the right group to play with is key.
Board games are a great way to try, experiment or be more aggressive in your gaming strategy. If you don’t win, don’t worry about it, try again. I love learning new games and working out what makes them work, but if that isn’t for you then just play your favourite game. Perhaps aim to have a good time and try new strategies rather than winning.
Games are expensive
Modern games do on the whole cost more than mass produced games printed by the millions and with no real effort made to change or improve. Modern games tend to have smaller print runs, often have beautiful components and have a multiyear development and play testing cycle. Card games tend to be £10 to £20, medium box games £25 to £40 and there are big box games which can be over £75.
They are reusable, can take many plays and often hold their value really well. Try playing other people’s copies or borrow some from a library if you are lucky enough to have access to one. (We have 250 plus games we lend out www.herefordshireboardgamers.co.uk)
Gaming like any hobby can be addictive. Pace yourself, work out what you like and what you will actually play before buying too many and if you are new to the hobby it might be a good idea to stay away from Kickstarter and the hype on there before you learn what you like.
There are grains of truth in each of these, but a lot of the information they are based on is very outdated. Modern board gaming is not yet mainstream in the same way video gaming is. You can’t buy modern board games on every highstreet. So give them a go and I expect you will be pleasantly surprised
Board games have developed as much as video games with new mechanics, ideas, better graphics, cooperative play and even games which make use of apps to help tell the story, (narrating using amazing voice acting or taking the role of an opponent for you to defeat. If you take nothing else away, take that away.
Not all video games are Pacman. Not all board games are Monopoly.
Herefordshire Board Gamers
I apologise for ‘bashing’ monopoly it has a important place in a lot of peoples hearts and memories but equally it likely a barrier for some people trying board games and until recently it was the baseline for board games, the world is changing and more are aware of this wonderful hobby. Please play what every games you enjoy but perhaps branch out and try new things from time to time (not just with board games!)