Board games are often overlooked as educational materials, but this may be changing. People of any age can learn new things by playing games, regardless of the subject, and do so by receiving hands-on and heads-on knowledge and skill development. A well-designed game is engaging and fun for all who participate. The players are focused on the content and often don’t realize they are absorbing information and learning in the process. Concepts are reinforced with repeated play and mistakes are quickly identified so they can be corrected.
When people play a board game, the board makes it easy to connect information as it provides a visual metaphor for doing so. Players must interact with each other to solve problems or discuss game elements, which likewise promotes learning. Furthermore, an effective game lays out the desired information in a conceptual framework. Metaphors and analogies may be used to connect the information presented and players might be asked to work together to win. Abstract concepts become easier to understand in this type of situation and playing games can transform relationships while the players are learning.
A study conducted at a large northeastern university examined the learning effectiveness of board games and the retention of the materials presented. The researchers looked at the player’s knowledge and understanding of the material presented along with the player’s perception of learning effectiveness and enjoyment. The data gathered was then compared with data from students who took part in either a lecture or library assignment. Upon completion of the study, the researchers found that individuals who took part in the game stated it was more effective and enjoyable when it came to learning new material. Furthermore, the knowledge tests showed those who played the game not only learned more but retained more. The players simply thought they were having fun when they were doing so much more. The next time you walk into any board game shop in Melbourne look around at the games and see what they might teach players without anyone realizing they are doing so.
Monopoly teaches children how to negotiate and make change among other things. Scrabble is great for teaching students how to spell new words and use a dictionary to find more information about the choices of other players. Chess might appear to simply be a game of strategy, but it is so much more. It also serves as a symbol for relationships, politics, war and other competitive analogies. These are only a few of countless examples of games and the value they add to education that many have overlooked.
Playing a board game provides participants with the opportunity to think, react and adapt to different situations. The gameplay changes each time based on the moves of the player. While doing so, each person can compete with others in a fun setting and master the content. Furthermore, the games help individuals increase their social skills along with their confidence, and children learn about fair play, values, competition, and rules. For these and numerous other reasons, people should play more board games together. The benefits of doing so are immense.