Jorge Zhang

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Advantages of Board Games Over Video Games

July 23, 2018

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about the advantages that board games have over video games. Neither is necessarily better than the other, but a lot of my non-board game friends don’t understand why anyone would play board games when video games exist. This post is for them.

I think that there are three main reasons a game might work better in a board game format.

  1. Social decisions
  2. Dedicated players
  3. Physical components

In video games, you lose the whole face-to-face aspect of interacting with other people. Sure, video games have chat systems where you can talk with other players. But when a player bargains to get the trade they want in Catan, a spy claims to be a rebel in The Resistance, or someone trying to convince you to go along with their plan in Diplomacy, there is a lot that is impossible to replicate in a chat space. There is the real time aspect of not being able to craft a beautifully written reply, as well as the body language and the way people react. While multiplayer games can pit the players against each-other, there isn’t usually a lot of the complexities that come along with board games. More often than not, PvP in video games is a matter of every person against everyone else rather than alliances and deals being made.

A photo of people playing board games

Another aspect of board games that isn’t present in video games is the fact that you tend to get people who are more dedicated than the average online gamer. While someone in a video game can simply leave at any time, there is a high social cost to this when you’ve spent the time to meet up with actual people and decide to play a board game. I think that a major problem with adapting board games to a digital format is the fact that there aren’t many barriers to entry for a random player to hop online and then quit when they begin to lose half-way through a game. Commitment can especially be an issue for very long video games, but not necessarily an issue for very long board games as there is a much larger cost to leave.

Finally, there is just something different about holding a physical hand of cards and moving pieces on a board. Holding coins or pushing armies into provinces just feels better than clicking and dragging. I also think that there is also a higher level of control over what you are able to do in a board game than in a video game. Video games are limited by what the designer wants you to be able to do, but in board games it is easy to make up house rules or variants. All of this is due to the physical format of board games.

There are obviously a lot of advantages to video games too, but hopefully this highlighted some of ways that board games are better. Let me know what you think! You can also subscribe to new posts by putting in your email address into the subscribe widget to your right.

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