Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Why I Game

by Randy

Katie and I playing TransAmerica
Hi, everyone! I was thinking that today I should diverge a little from recent content, which has been more heavily focused on reviews, and tell you a little about myself. Specifically, I want to tell you why I game. If you've followed the blog at all, you'll have a general idea of what my family likes to play, so I'm going to throw out another angle. Here's what motivates me to sit down at the table and get my game on.


That's an easy one, right? Of course I do it because it's fun. It almost goes without saying. People play games... because they are fun. I am no different in that regard, though my uses and gratifications may not be exactly the same as another person. In board games, I like to execute interesting strategies. In roleplaying games, I like make interesting characters and see their stories unfold when put in interesting situations. These things are fun to me. It's also fun to see other people do these things, too. Winning is fun, too, but honestly, I'd rather lose by a small margin than win by a huge one. Why? Because that usually is not fun, even for good sports. And I have the most fun when others are having fun, too.

Mental Exercise

Pondering Agricola...
Some games, particularly strategy board games, are a kind of mental calisthenics. Just think about it: you are introduced to a closed system that has its own unique rules. You have some finite amount of resources (which could be time or moves), most likely roughly equal to your opponents. With these, you are tasked to employ a strategy better than your opponents, possibly having to employ tactics against them whilst they work against you. This requires and develops reasoning skills, forethought and the ability to predict what opponents will choose. Have you heard the quip "The brain is a muscle; if you don't use it, you lose it"? That kind of sums up my feelings about that.


Unless you play solitaire games exclusively, gaming is a social activity. Whether just playing something with my wife, or my kids or friends, I appreciate having a fun activity in which to participate. I am a social creature and games allow you to interact with anothers on a different level. My wife and I often have great conversations over a game. When meeting new people, I find a game can be a good icebreaker. Many of my friends I actually met because we gamed together... my wife included!


Guess What I Am? with the kids
Games are a great family activity. It beats zoning out in front of the television! I really like playing games with every member of my family. Even the two year old, Jack! I just love seeing the wheels turn when the kids figure out something neat in games, and appreciate very much what that means for their cognitive and social development. I love gaming with my wife, too. It's an excellent way for us to engage in a mentally stimulating activity together after the kids go to bed.

So that's a little bit about me. That doesn't necessarily sum up every reason I play games, but it hits the main ones. Without a doubt, I'll come up with another within a few minutes of posting this. I hope you enjoyed a little insight into me as a gamer! Have a great day, and be sure to share why YOU play games!


  1. Have you found specific games that are ages two+ friendly? My daughter is two and a half and I'd love to get her involved in more board games. Most of them are either precious to me (don't lose the pieces!) or just too complex for her.


  2. The BlueOrange games are good (Speedy Eddy, Froggy Boogie). Froggy Boogie has been a favorite since Katie (now 5) was 2, and Jack (now 2) plays it somewhat. In any event, it has been useful to help him learn to take turns.

  3. Veggie, I've been thinking more... it may be a good idea to check thrift stores for games. If you're nervous about losing components, playing with a game you didn't invest too much into might be good. Also, our son really enjoyes Boggle Jr... he plays with the letter cubes. If you haven't checked it out, here is a link to our post on teaching games to kids: http://growingupgamers.blogspot.com/2011/01/teaching-games-to-kids.html
    That has some tricks we've used and have worked. Good luck!