Why we play tabletop games.

Some people shy away at the thought of tabletop games. They find this is only a waste of their precious time when they could be doing something else instead. To them, these are just games; nothing more, nothing less.

However, for some people like me, we find tabletop games as cerebral things or toys for the mind; an opportunity to showcase our thinking prowess on how to address certain situations. All of these tabletop games are nothing more than systems where the goal is to win. Players are placed inside the game’s world compelling them learn and engage the game’s model themselves. Individual or a group of players strategize and think amongst or against themselves to outsmart each other. Moreover, finding the best solution to the worst problems as handed out by game’s environment.

Brenda Romero, game designer of Train, has this to say about tabletop gaming, “An analog game is something incredibly tactile, beautiful, raw and bare. The systems are exposed; they are not hidden under graphics or obfuscated in code. It’s all there to see.”

Furthermore, “Great books, movies, art and journalism all seek to entertain so as to hold interest, even while contributing insight for serious discussion. Games should be no different.”
I could not have said it any better. I mean, how often do we find ourselves engaged in long hours of exchanging different views and debating a multitude of ideas after playing a tabletop game, whichwill most likely end up with another session of the same tabletop game just to prove our point? I’ve been there. Good times. Always.

As what Romero mentioned, how is an analog game any different from those that she mentioned? If we immerse ourselves in movies or books, thinking along the way what might happen or what the protagonist will do, or better yet what we can do if it we were the protagonist or in some instances the antagonist, isn’t it technically we’ve just placed ourselves in their world? We have the information of the current situation and the tools on how to address them to find the means to win the day.

A tabletop game is just the same. We are given a set of instructions and rules to follow, tools or equipment to use often represented by cards, dice and/or figures, and sometimes a board which represents the world where each player traverse themselves either as an antagonist or a protagonist.

It provides situations where you have to solve problems using only the rules and tools at your disposal, which promotes and sharpens critical-thinking, the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement.

I cannot stress enough how important critical-thinking is in every person’s daily life. I’ve experienced myself the benefit of playing tabletop games since I started in my high school sophomore years. Being able to think clearly and rationally about what to do or what to believe has helped me in addressing and solving different situations.

So for the new players and especially the skeptic few who still think tabletop games are just a waste of time, I urge you to rethink your misconceptions. There are actually more to what tabletop games have to offer. They are not just games. It can also be a medium to forge friendships in a fun way. It widens your knowledge and bolsters creativity. And the most important of all, it relieves stress.

If you hear at the gym that 30 minutes of workout a day is better than no workout at all, I can safely say the same with tabletop games. So let me leave you with a quote from one of the best-known philosophical contemporaries,
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” – Plato