Human beings love to be entertained. In modern times the most common outlets for entertainment are the Internet and television. Blogs and movies and music serve as ways for people to be pleasantly distracted from everyday life and it is easy to wonder how mankind kept themselves amused before the birth of the Internet and cable. There were, of course, many ways to keep oneself entertained prior to the boom in technology. Excursions like circuses and books were always popular but games were among the most favored past times—notably board games.
Board games have a long and rich history. In the days before radio and television people would gather together to play games and engage in conversations. Card decks were easy to come by and supplied the potential for dozens of different games to be played and enjoyed (and even gambled upon). Other games required the use of game boards. In the days before technological-driven media, there were “game boxes” (and in some cases “game tables”) that contained several games inside a single lay out. Game boxes were particularly popular among the economically upper class and many of the boxes were decorated ornately and works of art in of themselves. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has a collection of such objects for display: http://www.metmuseum.org/search-results?ft=game+box&x=9&y=3
Games using boards and cards can sometimes be played by oneself, as is the case in solitaire. Other games like chess require two players while others can be enjoyed by larger groups of players such as the Chinese Mah-Jong which is thought to date to about 500 BC. It is common for people to gamble on games using implements like dice and cards and boards in places like Atlantic City and Las Vegas which is dubbed “a playground for adults.” Yet the simple joy that games bring are most commonly seen when one watches children gather around, and laugh over, a game.
Toy stores like “Toys R Us” carry a wide array of board games that have been developed by numerous toy companies. Although playing games might seem like a good way to spend free time, games can also have real educational applications—without the players even realizing it! Monopoly provides basic lessons about how to handle money. Scrabble forces players to think about words, even complicated ones. Guess Who teaches deductive reasoning skills and the ability to “narrow down” a concept. Hence, games are good for kids (and adults) mentally as well as emotionally.
In today’s booming technological era there are many games that can be found online and many of them have excellent educational properties and lots of fun playtime value. In fact, many traditional games like poker and Candyland can be played online or via apps. Yet although all of these computerized games can be fun and useful, it is still nice to have the opportunity to play an actual board game where dice is shook and cards are turned. For anyone who is looking for a way to spend an evening at home, board games are sure to bring happiness—and even some cognitive exercise—to every player.