7 Life Lessons Learned (from Board Games)

1. There is a cost to winning

In this society, we are taught that winning matters. In sports, there is a winner and as for 2nd place, well, there is a half hearted pitying head nod. I have often wondered why there had to be a winner given how sad and dejected the ‘loser’ typically looked looked as they were a near WINNER. It did not seem that the gain to the winner was worth the cost of the emotional cost for the team or person who didn’t win, given how close they usually were to winning.

2. Winning At Games is Like Winning in Corporate America.

There is a winner and there is a loser. There are always exceptions, however, winner takes all is the common approach in business. This can range from an individual promotion to competition for market share.

I was at a party last week and met a girl who had been fired 3 days before she was going to be relocated from Germany to the US. The reason? The other guy (not her boss) won at politics. Result? She got fired, even though she was promoted and lined up for a big move.  I attended a Tech Conference last week and noticed a difference in attitude between companies in the same industry. The first company mentioned an ecosystem where everyone relied on the other to survive. The other company that is dominating is known to not work well with others.

Most competitive, non-cooperative board games follow the similar winner-takes-all and zero sum game approach.

3. Games are everywhere (in Life)

I've heard people say they don't like board games because it's not "real life." That is true, however, people also play games all the time IRL. There's the dating game, the game at work with your boss and co-workers, the image and appearance game that to the extent of my knowledge, many people play. Believe it or not, some of these techniques are the same skills used in board games.

4. Position Matters

This is a major part of any poker game. Your position at the table. Not just whether you are the big blind, small blind, or dealer, but who you are sitting next to. This will affect your poker game, most board games, and applies to real life. Learn to better understand your position and be aware in any setting. 

5. Math Matters

I once had a friend say that all of life could be boiled down to math. That could be a bit of a stretch, however, it is an important component of life. The bigger point is, important things like saving for your retirement, and how many points you will have at the end of a game, can be planned and counted. Often, in playing board games, you can count how many points you have, how many points other players have, and how many points you will need to win. 

6. Cooperative Games Work

Lately, cooperative games have been uber popular and the reason is because they work. Everyone participates, and players can use their unique strengths as a team to generate the outcome of a game. Many of the same skills that you would use in a strategy game are are applied to a cooperative game. Each has their place, however, if you think all of the glory is in winning alone, think again.

7. Games as Learning Tools

The clear theme here is that a byproduct of playing board games is you can learn something besides the mechanics of the game. Though, I mostly play to hang out and have fun, I came out with a few insights doing what I love most. Now and again, I feel the pang of winning at the cost to a fellow player, and recall the feeling of winning as a group, or acknowledge that I may in fact, need to compensate for the player to my left.