Board games vs. video games

In just half a century video games have developed to become an integral part of our lives, taking the place of the traditional board game as the hobby of choice for many youngsters, and adults for that matter!

But how and where did board games first come about? Remnants of games involving dice have been found in places like Turkey, Syria and Iraq dating back around 5,000 years and a predecessor of backgammon was a popular board game in the Roman Empire. The game we know as chess comes from ‘chaturanga’ which was widespread throughout India in the sixth century and was then brought to medieval Europe via the Arabs and Persians. 

The roots of family favourite, Monopoly, lie in ‘The Landlord’s Game’ which was created in the USA in 1902 by Elizabeth Magie. The creator supported the ‘single tax movement’, a legislative proposal at the end of the 1800s that demanded the abolition of all taxes in favour of a single tax linked to property. Three decades later Monopoly was created by the Parker brothers but ironically the game now celebrated monopolists instead of protesting against them. Still, many a fun afternoon has been spent pursuing those little green houses!

So, is it possible for video games to bring families and friends together in the same way that board games have done for many years? Or do they simply serve to alienate their players and encourage anti-social behaviour?

Well, in reality, video games have actually spawned an entire community. Through gaming you aren’t restricted by location but can connect with others online and play in teams with people who live on the other side of the world. The industry has grown to such an extent that not only has the International Olympic Committee approved the inclusion of video games as a category at the Olympics, there are now countless tournaments amassing millions of dollars in prize money.

Maybe it’s a case of ‘If you can’t beat them, join them!’. If one of your family members is a budding gamer, you could always give it a go yourself – get some extra controllers, a game everyone will enjoy and set up a family league! With autumn round the corner it could be just the thing for some cosy family nights in.