Unlocking Fun: How Board Games Boost Your Brainpower and Creativity

Board games have been enjoyed by people  for centuries, with the earliest known examples dating back over 5,000 years to ancient civilizations like the Mesopotamians and Egyptians.

Board games have stood the test of time and continue to bring joy to millions of people around the world. Actually, they do much more than just provide entertainment. Board games have a remarkable effect on our mental well-being, cognitive abilities, and social interactions. 

The term board games usually refers to tabletop games that typically involve players moving game pieces or tokens on a board, following a set of rules. Board games come in various shapes, sizes, and themes, offering a wide range of experiences for players of all ages and interests.

While traditional board games like Chess *, Checkers *, Backgammon *, Mancala *, Mahjong *, Go *, and Senet * have been played for generations and are deeply rooted in various cultures, the introduction of modern games, in a few last decades, has taken the genre to new height.

Modern games brought a wave of fresh ideas, innovative mechanics, and a broader range of experiences. Thanks to accessible rules, diverse themes, and engaging gameplay board games can now be enjoyed by a much wider audience.

So what gives board games their brain boosting superpowers?

  • Board Games May Enhance Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is essential in our daily lives. It guides us to make informed choices and successfully navigate through a variety of situations.

We use critical thinking to solve household problems, to plan trips, when choosing  to buy new gadgets, and in almost any other daily routine.

Critical thinking  is analyzing situations, it is considering multiple perspectives, and finally making informed decisions. 

Board games are fantastic tools for enhancing critical thinking skills.

How?

  • Board games challenge us to analyze multiple options and predict the possible outcomes of our decisions. 
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of every move.
  •  Consider how other players may react to our moves.

Critical thinking includes several aspects and playing different types of games can enhance each of these separately.

1. Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking is a cognitive skill that involves the ability to envision, plan for the future, and execute long-term goals. Playing strategic games is an excellent way to enhance strategic thinking skills. Those games provide opportunities to practice analyzing and making sense of complex situations.

Abstract games, such as Chess or Go, focus on pure strategy and logical thinking. They strip away unnecessary elements so you can dive deep into pattern recognition and planning your moves. When you play these games, you'll get better at thinking ahead, anticipating your opponent's future moves, and creating long-term plans.

Modern strategy games, such as Settlers of Catan * or Ticket to Ride *, balance between deep strategy and immersive gameplay. Players explore different themes and gameplay mechanics while adjusting strategies based on evolving game conditions.

2. Problem Solving

Many board games provide opportunities to exercise problem-solving skills. They challenge players to think critically and break down complex problems into little manageable parts.

There are wide range of problem solving games:

Collaborative games like Pandemic * or Forbidden Island * require effective team work and decision making to overcome challenges. Those games promote collaborative problem solving skill.

Games like Codenames * or Dixit * incorporate problem-solving through decoding clues and making associations. Which is solving problems by deductive and inductive reasoning.

3. Deductive Reasoning

Deductive reasoning, which is drawing conclusions based on known facts  is a type of logical thinking we use in everyday life. It is utilized in simple tasks like creating a grocery list  or deciding what to wear every morning. Later, if developed properly it can help us make important financial investments, prove scientific theorems or build logical arguments as lawyers.

Games like Clue * or Codenames require the player to reveal hidden information by eliminating different possibilities.

Playing those games helps sharpen deductive reasoning. 

4. Critical Analysis

Critical analysis refers specifically to the process of examining information. It is all about breaking down complex ideas and  forming well-reasoned judgments. While strategic thinking focuses on developing plans to achieve specific goals,  critical analysis  is about examining the assumptions for those choices.

Some board games, such as Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective * or Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game *, encourage critical analysis as players must carefully examine clues, piece together information, and draw logical conclusions to solve mysteries.

  • Board Games are a Fun and Engaging Platform for Memory Improvement

Almost any board game will require the players to remember rules, strategies, and moves. That is a  great memory exercise.

Each time we play our memory is challenged. Regularly engaging in gameplay can boost memory retention and our recall abilities.

Most  board games are good for memory but games that are specifically designed to focus on memory are great for it. Flipping pairs of tiles is probably the most familiar type of memory game. There are plenty of those in different themes. 

However, game design has gone further than that. Modern games embraced the concept of memory challenges and transformed them into a much more engaging experience. Some memory games focus on remembering sequences.


Distraction

In this games players play cards one after other trying to remember the entire sequence. Once in a while a distraction card comes into the pile and the player who gets it needs to recall the entire sequence after answering an irrelevant question. If the player was not successful he takes the whole pile of cards. First player who runs out of cards is the winner. 


  • Board Games Can Help Improve Focus, Attention Span, and Concentration

Board games require players to stay engaged and pay attention to details to not harm their chances of winning. Almost all board games require concentration.

Strategy games present players with different choices. Analyzing those choices and their potential consequences while adapting to constant changes requires sustained attention and focus. 

There are also games that their main objective is to exercise visual perception, quick thinking and attention to details:

  • Playing Board Games May Reduce Stress

Playing board games offers a break from daily routine and a much needed escape from responsibilities and worries. Most board games offer a captivating gameplay that fully absorb the players into the game. That alone provides relaxation and often satisfaction. 

One of the many positive aspects of playing board games is the social interaction that comes with them. Social interactions stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone which is connected to feelings of bonding, trust, and stress reduction.

A board game is an opportunity to spend quality time with family, friends or people sharing the same hobby. Spending time in a supportive and enjoyable environment can reduce loneliness and have a mood boosting effect.

  • Board Games May Stimulate Creativity and Imagination

Board games can have a big impact on on stimulating creativity and imagination. When playing a board game players are taken into a new exciting world where they are expected to solve imaginative challenges. 

Many of the modern board games feature beautiful artwork that contributes to inspiring players imagination. They force players to visualize worlds and often imagine situations beyond the game itself.

Playing board games often requires thinking outside the box since many games include different puzzles that may require innovative approach to solve them. 

Some board games integrate elements role-playing into the games. In those type of games players have the opportunity to take control over certain characters, make decisions for them and  actively affect the story line of the entire game. 

Some board games are all about story telling. In those games players get some kind of images or clues which they should incorporate into the story they create. 

  • Board Games Have Learning and Educational Value

Board games are much more than just entertainment. As the time passes more and more individuals as well as educational facilities recognize the educational and learning benefits of board games.

Board games can promote learning in a unique and interactive way. Besides enhancing logical reasoning, analytical skills, and ability to think critically, board games promote learning in specific subject areas. There are games that focus on math, language, science, history, geography, astronomy and various other disciplines. 

Examples of board games with an extra learning values on different subjects:

 CASHFLOW

Teaches financial strategies and accounting principles

Trekking Through History

Teaches  about Historical Events 


  •  Board Games Provide a Screen-Free Alternative  

Screens and all sort of digital devices dominate most of our lives. Excessive screen time can lead to mental fatigue and overstimulation. Breaks from screens allow the brain to rest and recharge. That contributes to better cognitive functioning and over all well being. 

Board games provide a valuable screen free time with meaningful face to face interaction instead. Socialization, communication and sense of togetherness is what board games bring to the table besides the entertainment aspect that obviously comes with them. 

  • Playing Board Games May Reduce the Risk of Age-related Cognitive Decline

Challenging our mind and keeping it active can slow down cognitive decline as we age. Playing board games is an enjoyable way to keep our brain active and stimulated. They stimulate various areas of the brain. Involve problem-solving, critical thinking, decision-making and more. Engaging in these thinking processes contribute to maintaining cognitive function and memory.

Social interactions are part of any board game and are especially important for seniors. Engaging in social activities with family or friends can boost mood, and may reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Conclusion

Board games can have an extraordinary impact on our brains and overall well-being. Board games offer an enjoyable way to exercise our cognitive abilities, stimulate our creativity, and build meaningful connections with others.

The benefits from playing board games can vary depending on the game itself and the individuals playing it. It's important to choose games that align with the interests and the goals of the players to maximize the positive effects those can have on their brain. If a person enjoys playing a game he is more likely to engage in it and that game time will result in greater cognitive reward.

Next time you play a board game, remember that is it not just a fun activity but also a brain workout that is necessary for your overall health and happiness. Happy gaming!

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Katia

Katia is responsible for graphics and content design. She is a mom of two beautiful children. Katia spends her free time searching for and trying to solve different brain games and teasers. She also likes board games, puzzles and crosswords.