If you follow our blog at all, you know that I play most of my games with my wife. While most of this may be because I lock all the doors and windows whenever I want to play something (kidding), it’s also because we have begun to realize the benefits of having these experiences together. In a culture where family time is sometimes considered watching a TV show together or simultaneously sitting on the couch while updating social media, I believe board games provide experiences that allow for real human interaction that can be hard to find in our increasingly digital society.
So before I start to yell at all you kids to get off my lawn, let me tell you five reasons I think you should start gaming with your favorite person.
1) To Spend Quality Time Communicating
When you watch a TV show or go to the movies as a family, you’re not really doing something together. You’re doing something alone, and other people happen to be in the room with you. Sure, you might say a few words back and forth, and maybe you have a little recap at the end, but to me, that’s not enough.
With a game, though, it’s different. Your conversations actually have an impact on what’s happening. When one person makes a move that interferes with your plans, you’re going to react, which leads to conversation. When you’ve got that perfect move ready to go, you might talk a little trash before you execute. All of this talking and communicating is great for enhancing a relationship.
2) To Grow as a Team
I really enjoy playing co-op games with Sarah, mostly because I get to work with her to accomplish something. Our current favorite game, Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, is a perfect example. I usually do the reading aloud while Sarah takes the notes (I’m not good at either, but I went with the lesser of two evils). Then we each consider newspapers for a while and lay out our possible options for the next move. Having two sets of eyes and ears on everything helps to dig up the important little details that might otherwise have remained hidden.
In another current favorite, Pandemic: Legacy, Sarah and I play as different characters, each through our ongoing campaign. I usually aim for more risky maneuvers in order to get bonuses and such, while Sarah plays more conservatively and wants to ensure that we get to victory. Our two approaches mesh well together, and we have won our last three rounds of the game.
3) To Enjoy a Good, Friendly Rivalry
Sarah and I aren’t super competitive, and we usually don’t care who wins or loses. I mean, maybe a little. Okay, maybe more than a little. Okay, maybe it’s getting old that I lose to her all the time.
But seriously, Sarah does win most of the time. I don’t know what it is, but she seems to have my number. However, our games are usually very close. Since we only play about five or six games regularly, it’s easy to bring up those memories from the last game to playfully taunt the other one.
We’re never rude, and our smack talk is always in jest, but it does feel good to have a partner in the house that I can play a game seriously with, knowing that she will not hold grudges against me in a later game. Oh, and by the way, if you don’t think you can have a friendly rivalry with your significant other, you’re messed up and need to chill out. 🙂
4) To Disconnect for a Little While
I hope this post doesn’t come off as a rant against TV, because it’s not intended to be. Sarah and I watch several shows on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. But I know that if I sit for a few hours just scrolling through YouTube videos or binge watching something, I feel like crap afterwards. There’s scientific research (that I’m too lazy to link to) that talks about how your body kinda ‘hibernates’ after you sit for an extended period of time. As a teacher who is finishing up his summer break, this hits home super hard right now. I have great ideas for stuff I should do around the house, but when I say I’ll get it done after watching TV, it’s magically 3PM and I’ve gotten nothing done!
Factor in all the research on the impact of too much TV (brain development, attention span, eyesight, health, happiness, and all that jazz) and I’m glad I have some options that will allow me to turn the screen off. I mean, in my job as a teacher, I’m on my computer for a huge chunk of the day. Being able to pull up around a table and look into the eyes of another human being seems like a good idea to me.
5) To Learn to Appreciate Different Types of Games
While Sarah might not enjoy it, she has become my test group when it comes to new games. Whenever something comes in the mail for a new Kickstarter preview, or whenever I’m able to get my hands on a game I’ve been hearing a lot about, she is guaranteed to be the one that will test it out with me. Usually this goes pretty well, as several games have become favorites from our playthroughs together. To be fair, though, we have hit a few duds. But through all our games together, we have been able to learn what best fits our style. This approach has become beneficial over time, as the games that I’m willing to part with in a sale or trade has been greatly reduced. In working together, we have done well to shape a collection that includes games we like for all kinds of scenarios.
What about you? What are some reasons that you game with your SO? Let us know in the comments below!