The first time I learned to play chess was with a Mario Kart chess kit that my middle school friend had. The next day I marched to Target to get my own and begged my parents and brothers to play with me. I won every time.
Fast forward to spring break of 2022, I played my dad a total of 10 times over break and lost every time — however, I was surprisingly close one time. I wasn’t upset that my family let me win growing up because I enjoyed our time together. I still enjoy playing chess and other games with my family, even if we need to play all night for me to prove I can win.
I believe that board games are an endless source of entertainment because they promote quality time with others and are beneficial to your health. My family loves playing board games — it has become our family tradition in some form or another because it is something we can all enjoy. We play board games during holidays, while on vacation, on random weeknights and occasionally enjoy a good round of cards at a restaurant.
I personally think that board games can be in box form but also online and even video games. From my childhood to now, I have seen board games grow from tabletop Shoots and Ladders to online and digital games (Mario Party 8 being my favorite). I don’t think we can place parameters on what defines a board game because they grow as much as we do.
I know most people will not consider cards to be a board game, but I feel like there are also a lot of card-based board games. A fun fact about me is that I most likely will carry a deck of cards in my purse in the off chance I need to pull them out to play a game. It's nice to have one handy after buying so many decks of cards throughout the years.
I’m not going to lie and say my family isn't competitive in board games, but I will say we are only competitive against each other. All is fair in love and war in my household. Whether we are playing Dutch Blitz, Egyptian Rat Slap or the deadliest of them all — Monopoly — we take our games seriously, but we play for fun.
I am embarrassed to say I may or may not have flipped the board while playing Risk with my parents on vacation once. Or twice. However, it was all in fun, and we shared a good laugh afterward.
While packing for college, I brought some of my favorite board games in hopes of sharing them with new people, who also found a good time in them. In the first week of school, my roommates and I brought Cards against Humanity with us to a study room, and each time a person passed by, we invited them to play. By the end of the game, we gained six new friends and made some good memories. It wasn't until then I realized that board games are something that never fade and are a great way to bring people together.
Not only are board games socially beneficial, they may also improve your mental health. For example, a study has shown that there is a relationship between playing board games and the risk of dementia. This study showed that the risk of dementia was 15% lower in those who played board games than non-players. Board games allow players to strategize, be productive and enhance logical thinking.
Knowing that playing board games could help loved ones’ mental sharpness in the future is another benefit that you can’t put a price on. Some of my favorite games that challenge both me and my parents are Bananagrams and Scrabble. My older brother uses words during Scrabble that no one in my family has heard of, so we often need to check to make sure he isn't BSing us. There are also mobile games designed for a cognitive workout, such as Peak, an app that has multiple mini-games that challenge your brain.
Overall, I feel that board games are an influential part of my life and many others close to me. They are great for hanging out with friends or getting to know people while working your brain and strengthening your mind. There are many benefits to playing board games, but the one thing I feel most strongly about is that they are a pastime that never goes out of style.
Alexis Goeman is a freshman journalism major. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.