The Benefits of Strategy Board Games

The Benefits of Strategy Board Games

By Brad Musil

Strategy board games (also known as “Euro games,” since they are particularly popular in Europe) fulfill a variety of needs that people have.  For one, they provide a temporary escape from the trials and tribulations players may be experiencing in their everyday lives. The thematic elements of games, which many strategy games are known for, help to enhance this effect, insofar as they create a more vivid and believable world that players can more readily immerse themselves in.  Such an alternative world might require players to fight dragons, explore and colonize space or collect resources and build cities—in any case, the point is that players are no longer thinking about changing diapers at home or finishing projects at work, and, thus, they are provided with much needed relief from the strains of their everyday existence.

Consider, also, that some games are educational, and that they can provide a means to expand our knowledge and to spark interests in subjects we might have otherwise never known we had.

Furthermore, with the exception of solitaire games, playing a strategy board game is a social experience, and, as such, it provides an occasion for players to have fun with friends and family.  As Aristotle once famously said in his book, Politics, “man is by nature a social animal.”  Hence, we naturally enjoy doing things together, and board games, like going to the movies or going out to eat, offer us a chance to do just this.

What’s more, board games usually require less of a time commitment than other leisure activities (e.g. watching a movie); many  maintain busy schedules and are unable to commit longer periods of time to such activities, in which case they would certainly find this aspect of playing a board game appealing.

Not only that, once purchased, a board game is something that can be enjoyed again and again, almost indefinitely, and yet its price is roughly equivalent to the cost of one person going to the movies three or four times or a family of four going once; hence, the lifespan of a board game’s purchase price is a source of significant value when comparing it with similar leisure activities. In addition to the cost associated with leisure activities, one ought to duly consider what exactly one gets for that cost—e.g. going to the movie theater, or out for dinner, or out for a fun night on the town provides entertainment for one night while investing in a video game console or board game can provide entertainment almost indefinitely (provided the game withstands use and players remain interested in it). The following analysis suggests that, at $40, a board game can be well-worth its purchase price for any family of four:

Analysis of Value Pricing:

Board Games vs. Other Leisure Activities

 

 Movie

Theater

K.C. Royals

Baseball

Game

New Xbox 360 Video Game Console

 Board

Game

Purchase Price for Family of Four

 $32

 $100

 $200

 $40

 

 

Associated Costs for Family of Four

Gas: $5

Food & Drinks: $15

TOTAL: $20

Gas: $5

Parking: $10

Food & Drinks: $20

TOTAL: $35

Gas: $5

Second

Controller: $40

1 Game: $60

TOTAL: $105

Gas: $5

 

 

TOTAL: $5

Cost after Adjusting for Associated Costs

 $52

 $135

 $305

 $45

Resale Value

-

-

($50)

($10)

Cost after Adjusting for Resale Value

 $52

 $135

 $255

 $35

Purchase Price Lifespan

 2 hours

 3 hours

 10 years

(≈87,650 hours)

25 years

(≈219,125 hours)

Cost per Hour after Adjusting for Purchase Price Lifespan

$26

$45

$.00291

$.00002

Portable

 -No

 -No

+Yes, to a degree

 +Yes

The table includes my estimations of the average purchase prices, associated costs, resale values and purchase price lifespans related to the leisure activities included, which I’ve based on personal experience and research. As this table indicates, board games provide significant monetary savings in comparison to other common leisure activities.  From a purely economic point of view, the initial $20-$50 purchase price associated with a board game should be acceptable to those willing to pay the costs associated with such other activities, since it actually yields a far better value when factoring in other associated costs, resale value and purchase price lifespan.

Finally, as their name implies, strategy games make players think in order to win, and many enjoy the kind of challenge associated with these games, which is similar to the enjoyment some get out of completing a daily crossword puzzle.

These are just a few of the many needs strategy board games fulfill in the lives of the people who play them.  Given these great benefits, it should come as no surprise that some strategy board games have generated mass appeal and proven to be very lucrative, as borne out, for example, by the successes of games like Magic: The Gathering and The Settlers of Catan.[1]

Thus, I believe strategy board games provide value in many unique ways.  Buying a board game yields indefinite opportunities to enjoy it, and at times convenient to the players, while the enjoyment associated with many other leisure activities tends to be much more short-lived.  What’s more, buying a board game usually requires little—if any—additional expense, and often times the game will even have resale value.  The compact nature of many board games also makes them suitable for travel, which can be very convenient for a number of reasons.  Many games are highly educational and offer an opportunity to learn while having fun, which is not something that can be said for many leisure alternatives.  Many games are more accommodating than other leisure activities in the sense that they are often child-friendly with respect to both theme and gameplay.  They also provide an opportunity for gamers to explore unique themes and to play games revolving around their niche interests.  In closing, the following captures how strategy board games create value in ways that distinguish them from other leisure activities:

Added Value of Board Games

Vs.

Other Leisure Activities

+

Purchase Price Lifespan

+

Associated Costs

+

Resale Value

+

Portable

 

 


[1] The Settlers of Catan, which was originally published less than 20 years, has sold nearly 25 million copies as of the summer of 2011, and, in his interesting article in The Atlantic, Scott Keyes argues that there’s reason to think that the game is becoming a household name here in America.  For what it’s worth, I mention this game when doing class introductions at the beginning of every college class I teach, and I would estimate that about one out of every four students has heard of it.  Even Target and Wal-Mart now stock the game on their shelves.  Similarly, Magic: The Gathering was solely responsible for spawning a number of hobby shops across the country in the nineties, when it became extremely popular among people of all ages, especially among high school and college students.  It retains its popularity to this day, with new cards being released for the game every year, and the game continues to be implemented on various platforms (e.g. a couple of versions of the game have been released on Xbox Live Arcade over the past few years).

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