Edit desk: Let’s welcome back the board game


Anna Hollander

Was it Colonel Mustard with the candlestick in the ballroom or Miss Scarlet with the revolver in the kitchen?

There is a revolution happening in the board game industry. Board games are back and I cannot stop talking about their revival.

Of course, I’m not just talking about board games, but about technology and human connection.

For a while, it felt as though the times we played board games were nothing but fond memories. The beloved pieces of cardboard and the tokens found inside were replaced by the endlessly glowing rectangles that I still believe have hidden super glue around the edges. People have truly become attached to their phones — afraid to separate from the security and comfort they provide.

Socializing shifted from time spent with friends playing board games to virtual interactions. As a result, people learned how to “connect,” instead of how to form genuine relationships rooted in substance and human interaction.

While technology has the ability to preserve and rekindle long-lost relationships, what is the cost?

Relationships now depend on immediate gratification and surface level approval. A study conducted by RadiumOne, a media buying firm, found that social media increases dopamine levels.

According to an article written by the American Marketing Association about the study, “every time we post, share, ‘like,’ comment or send an invitation online, we are creating an expectation… We feel a sense of belonging and advance our concept of self through sharing.”

The ease and security of hiding behind a screen have begun to trump the bravery it takes to sit in the same room as peers and have to interact in real life.

We are living in the shadow of technology, creating a concept of “virtual distance.”

“Virtual distance” is a psychological and emotional sense of detachment that results gradually as we trade off time interacting with each other for time spent on our phones.

This detachment allows us to put less energy and thought into our relationships.

For example, seeing that someone has viewed your Snapchat story might make you feel like they are actively involved in your life. In one second and one click, the feeling that used to require real-life interaction and genuine conversations spent together is replicated.

In a study done by Nielsen in 2016, the average American adult, age 18 or older, spends 10 hours and 39 minutes each day consuming media, with up to five hours on mobile devices.

A study done by Mediakix, an influencer marketing company, found that the average person would spend five years and four months of their life on social media alone.

In that time, a person could travel to the moon and back 32 times, walk the Great Wall of China three and a half times, or climb Mt. Everest 32 times.

With this in mind, I have noticed board games are becoming cool again. What’s ironic is that technology is giving them a new life.

The two opposite formats have begun to converge. They are evolving by borrowing ideas, conventions and learnings from the other.

Interactive online platforms, like Jackbox TV, are creating virtual board games where players must be in the same room together.

Even with the introduction of virtual board games, friends are still sharing laughs as they huddle together on a couch in a light environment that makes it easy to get to know each other better. These online board games are identically mimicking the experience of a classic board game.

This relaxed atmosphere that we know and love from our childhood pairs perfectly with a tension and rivalry to keep everyone on their toes.

Virtual games have even expanded the ability of board games, because they replicate the group dynamic and have a capacity that board games cannot always offer.

For example, the game “Fibbage” would not be possible if every player was not able to log in with their own device. Technology tactfully, discretely and conveniently makes certain information available to different people.

Board games are also borrowing from social media.

“What Do You Meme” brings what is seen on social media into the real world. Instead of tagging friends in memes online, friends can sit in a circle on the floor and laugh at the absurd captions together as they are read off one by one. The familiar pictures pulled from Instagram or Facebook are now placed on an easel as the centerpiece of the room until it is given to the winner of the round as well-deserved trophy.

These two concepts separated by a generation now not only coexist, but play into each other’s strengths to bring out the benefits of both platforms.

The nostalgic feeling that comes from opening up that dusty Monopoly box is a lot like riding a bike after 10 years — when you remember what it’s like to play, it feels like no time has passed since the first time you rolled those dice, caught that mouse or flipped that card.

Anna Hollander, ’18, is an assistant data graphics editor and sports writer for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected].

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