Why Play Board Games?

Even though I am obsessed with board games, and play frequently in my spare time, I realized that I don't necessarily have the "why" answered for why I love playing board games so much.

I can name a few of the components of games that I enjoy: interacting with others, achieving a goal or objective, appreciating that a standard set of rules apply to all players (often not the case IRL), and of course generally being entertained.

Upon researching and learning more about Game Design, I came across Jesse Schell's, The Art of Game Design, which is an incredible book and resource. 

Early on, Schell focuses on the experience that a game designer creates when building a game, and also compares this experience to other types of entertainment that we engage in such as movies, books, or rides.

But, Schell naturally makes some brilliant points -- because in a game I am the agent making choices within a constrained world. I am part of the experience, and in fact, could argue that I am contributing to and making the experience while the game is providing the setting.

In comparison, when watching a movie or reading a book, it doesn't feel like you have the same options.

Jesse then takes it a step further and says that there are certain feelings that games bring out in us, that are specific to games! I thought - EUREKA!. Perhaps this guy is right. Perhaps a big part of the reason I play games is because of these so-called feelings the author describes. He lists the following feelings games can call forth in us 

  • feelings of choice
  • feelings of freedom
  • feelings of responsibility
  • feelings of accomplishment
  • feelings of friendship
  • ....

I could add a few more to the list, like feelings of achievement, satisfaction, wonder, excitement, anticipation, fear, hope, love, hate, autonomy, and so on and so forth. I'm going deep but that's actually not what I'm trying to do here.  Really, all I am trying to do is think of what I can say when people ask why I play so many games. Typically, I have to rub my chin drumming up ways to convey how AMAZING it is to play board games. I mean, they are just fun, gosh, duh. Clearly, I'm going to have a much better answer for them this time around. And in fact, I could pose the same question. Why would you not want to play games and be entertained in this way?