You may be wondering, “What’s so great about Traditional Gaming? Video games are just as fun!” Well I’m here to tell you that this kind of thinking is just plain wrong. Traditional games are head and shoulders above the lonely pastime of video gaming (at least how it is done today with the prevalence of online gaming). Traditional gaming promotes real relationships, rapid thinking, creativity and comradery, just to name a few of the pros.
Traditional Gaming Builds Relationships
I know what you’re thinking, “Online gaming allows me to form plenty of relationships.” I’ve got some news for you, online relationships are not the same as personal, face-to-face relationships. According to Bradley M. Okdie et. al., online interactions are devoid of the nonverbal communication gained through face-to-face interactions ( http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2010.07.017). These interactions can seem more superficial because of this, causing the quality of the relationship to suffer. In other words, these interactions really don’t amount to any kind of lasting relationship. Compare this to face-to-face interactions and the difference is night and day. In face-to-face interactions the nonverbal parts of communication are intimately involved and thus help build more trust in the conversation. You can really tell how genuine a person is by these queues, something not gained from online interactions. This can help lead to real relationships that have real world implications. I could go write an entire post on the fallacy of online communities, but I’ll save that for another day.
Now what does this have to do with traditional gaming? Traditional gaming forces these face-to-face interactions by virtue of the medium itself. You can’t help but talk to the other players as you sit around a board game moving game pieces or around a table figuring out how to slay the gigantic black dragon bearing down on you. These types of interactions also build up comradery and even foster a competitive spirit which can build respect. Also many times, when playing these types of games, a meal is shared among the players which is always a prime time for conversation. This can be beneficial to a family who plays these types of games together because, as stated above, the face time helps build relationships. It has also been proven that families who spend this kind of quality time together open up channels of conversation that may stay closed in families that do not spend such quality face time together. This could come in handy once your children hit the dreaded teen years.
Traditional Gaming Promotes Rapid Thinking
One of the things I’ve noticed while playing online games is that I tend to go on autopilot, or play by instinct, a lot. I get into this zone where I’m not really thinking but reacting to what is happening on the screen. It’s almost trance-like but I can assure you it involves very little thinking on my part. This is contrasted by the thought needed to play a board game or role-playing game with other people in person. There is always some strategy to employ or role-playing to do in reaction to something in the game. These traditional games require you to be an active participant both physically and mentally. For example, while playing a game of “Ticket to Ride” with my wife and friends I kind of spaced out for just a minute and took cards instead of building a train and this was all my wife needed to build right where I needed to build. This caused me to lose the lead and ultimately, the game to my lovely bride. Another example was on one of the first encounters of a new campaign in Dungeons and Dragons. My friend carefully crafted this encounter to get the most out of the 3 Goblins stationed at the end of this hallway, which was heavily fortified by overturned furniture giving the goblins, which were armed with heavy crossbows, a safe place to unload on us from. I had just rolled an awesome monkey cleric who’s weapon of choice was a two-handed great maul and I was determined that my chain mail would protect me so I decided to charge out without a single second thought. A single bolt from one of those crossbows pierced my monkey skull and that was the end of him. Not thinking got him killed.
The rapid thinking garnered from traditional games can aid children in real life. Games with puzzles solve can flex your child’s critical thinking skills. Games with a time involved can increase the speed at which your child makes decisions and competitive games can increase both processing speed and critical thinking. These translate into real world skills that are highly sought out in colleges and in the workforce. And since the age of entry into traditional gaming is so low, my kids were playing crazy 8s as early as 3, you can give them a very early start that could change the course of their entire lives.
Traditional Gaming Develops Creativity
One of the great detriments of video games and, really the motion picture industry as well, is the lack of creativity on the viewer’s part. It’s like having someone else lifting weights for you in the gym, ultimately it does nothing for you. Tabletop games, especially role-playing games, encourage you to be an active participant in the creation of the world in which the characters live. What you do in the game makes a difference in a way that video games could never measure up to. On top of that, each player has their own image of what the world and its characters look like, just like reading a book. And as far as board games go, creativity comes in the form of interesting strategies and interactions with the game and other players. These dynamic situations can bring out creative ways of overcoming obstacles in cooperative games and bring the downfall of your opponent in competitive games.
I’ve noticed that in our society today people have very little imagination. I find this true in people born from 2000 to the present. I believe it’s because, instead of playing pretend as others did before the advent of smart phones and tablets, kids born from the early 2000’s onward were made accustomed to always having an electronic screen with them. This gave them nearly endless access to video games, movies, social media and the like. This made it easy kids, and really adults too, to sit down with a screen and just shut off all thought. Someone else is doing to the heavy lifting creativity and imagination. I believe this stymies the creative side of a person and really makes it difficult to think and create on your own. I’ve found as a parent that I encourage more “play time” and less “screen time” because that play time encourages my children to use their imaginations and be as creative as they’d like. This mandate to turn off and play on is usually met with cries of disapproval initially, but after about 10 minutes their brains are warmed up and all sorts of crazy things can happen. The same thing happens when we play a RPG or a riveting game of “I can do that” or even “Where’s Olaf?”.
Traditional Gaming Forges Comradery
Finally I’d like to touch on the comradery that comes from playing traditional games. In both board games and role-playing games there is an overall shared experience that brings everyone together. Even if the game is competitive in nature, the fun and laughs that happen naturally with such interactions keeps the atmosphere jovial and thereby increasing that feeling of togetherness or comradery. Only in the most extreme of circumstances do you find such games causing rifts between people and lets face it, do you really need someone hanging around who take games that seriously?
I touched on this a little further up but it is worth another mention. Family gaming brings members of said family closer together due to the quality time spent with one another. This can help unite a family and build stronger bonds that can weather any storm that may come its way. I know that sounds cheesy and all but think about this: The sooner you let your children know that you are there for them the more likely they will come to you when there are real problems in their lives. If the bonds formed on family game nights will allow my son or daughters to feel comfortable coming to me when they are scared, worried or in trouble when they get to those crazy teen years then these games are worth their weight in gold.
There you have it. My two-cents on why I believe traditional gaming is far better than digital. Let me know whether or not you agree with these thoughts in the comment section below. Until next time, good game.