I grew up on Monopoly, cards and scrabble. It may surprise you to know I can get very competitive! Actually I don’t really like who I become when I play games so I often avoid them as to not embarrass myself or finding myself falling into sin!! That was until a couple of years ago when my friends introduced me to the amazing word of collaborative games.
The world of board games has changed so much since I was growing up.. There are now whole shops that stock the diversity of board games from across the world and even some of the more mainstream stores are starting to reflect that diversity.
Why do board games matter? Like media, games give us an opportunity to explore the issues of life in a safe environment. It doesn’t matter if you fail or if you loose, but in doing so you learn the skills that can often be helpful in other parts of life. This also gives us space to reflect on the values of Jesus and living a Christian life. Questions you can ask – how does this game reflect the things that are important to your faith, how does it show the things that are the opposites to your values, how does this game give you the opportunity to reflect your values? In our current world where tech can be so domineering, board games give a more level playing field for all generations as they come together and is often something that children and young people love to do with adults. Whether it is one of these newer and more collaborative games or your old favourite UNO or Chess, games provide a space to be together and grow the strength of our relationships.
But collaborative games, what is that about??? The idea of collaborative games is that everyone works on the same problem together and you are trying to beat the game, or the clock or the odds. Some games have elements of both collaboration and competition.
One of my favourite games and the first one to introduce me to this concept was Mysterium, a much more engaging version of Cluedo. The group are trying to sort the clues given to them by the ghost (one of the players) to figure out who the murderer is.. not everyone’s cup of tea (I can’t play this with my very practical husband) but as a visual person I love the art work in this one. Trying to make sense of the clues together to help everyone progress through every level is fun, only at the end does it change modes to guessing who you think the murderer, where and with what, takes place competitively. I love how it gets everyone sharing their opinion together about what you think. For a longer review see here.
So I reached out to a couple of my friends about what their favourite collaborative games are and why?
My friend Fee said – ” I have found collaborative games great for the people who feel they always lose at games, or struggle to learn new games. Great for building team work rather than competition between each other, that’s its only when we help each other be the best as a team that we all succeed.”
Her favourite game was Forbidden Desert. You need to work together to try and recover parts of a legendary flying machine before it is lost to the desert forever. I played this with her on our last catch up, it was really fun, and I liked how you could protect each other when you were in a better position than the others. There was such a sense of satisfaction when you beat the desert! Check out a longer review here.
Will Nicholas is a friend of mine who reviews games and science fiction. He found playing Pandemic during a pandemic was actually pretty cathartic. In playing the game I found it helpful to think about how all the moving parts need to work together to try and overcome the problem and that every role is important in beating the virus. You can check out his review here. Another friend Katherine also like Pandemic as it felt very relevant at the moment!
I’m going to finish by talking about escape rooms. You can buy a box of games you can play at home or go to an escape room. The premise is that you have 60 minutes to solve the problems or puzzles that are required for you to escape from the room. These are great to help people work together and you notice really quickly who is good at what. People often surprise you! For a longer review see here.
So this is a call out to all you Grannies and Grampies out there who are struggling to reach out to your primary or high school aged grandkids, why not check out your options and next time they come over ask them to have a game with you or maybe teach you one of their favourites! Be brave it could be fun!!
If you have found this helpful I have a couple of friends with more suggestions so stay tuned for my next round of reviews..
Karen Mitchell-Lambert is ordained in the ministry of Deacon and is the team leader of PULSE.