Posts made in February, 2018

Board Games, they’re what’s for lunch

Posted on Feb 8, 2018 in General | 0 comments

The following is a post I made to our company-wide intranet, a highly trafficked space for our 12,000 global employees to share things from their lives, work, research, etc. “Adult” board gaming is a subject a lot of folks don’t know about, but are intrigued and hooked by when introduced so here’s me trying to intrigue and hook you.

Our daily Slack interest gauging poll

If you’ve ever found yourself in [my office] at noon, chances are you’ve seen a group of employees crowded around a table lying, cheating, stealing, and sometimes threatening ruin upon one another. Other days, things are a bit more friendly as they expand medieval kingdoms, colonize the far reaches of space, improve Caribbean islands, or construct the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Regardless the theme du jour, they’re having fun, flexing their brains, and building a stronger team via board gaming.

If “board gaming” evokes fond childhood memories of Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley favorites, and nothing else, that’s okay, but allow me to introduce you to “Eurogames.” In 1995, Settlers of Catan was released in Germany, and reinvented board gaming as most of us knew it. It introduced deeper strategy, advanced mechanics, less randomness, and a universally appealing (or acceptable) theme; characteristics shared by nearly all games in this category.

Over the decades, Eurogames have spread across the world like wildfire with some estimates showing ~30% year over year growth in the US. No longer are board games and board game stores the sole purview of the prototypical male geek toting their collection of hand-painted miniature figures and Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks. My own anecdotal data reveals these businesses visited by a healthy dose of children, families, women, and hygiene! For years here in Portland we’ve had numerous Meetups for board gamers, but recently we’ve had a bar open specifically for them! Conveniently, it’s on the bike route home for a number of us.

The benefits of board gaming are numerous. They improve relationships, lower stress and blood pressure, improve cognitive ability (logical reasoning and critical analysis skills), reduce the risk of mental disease, and in our own case tend to encourage employees to bring their own lunches; saving a few dollars and [usually] calories. Beyond the science, these daily sessions have done wonders to build bonds within our team and opened relationships between teams that would have otherwise been unlikely to occur due to the nature of how we [as human beings] work.

If you’re interested in learning more about this type of gaming be it for home or with your work team, you’d be well served starting with a “gateway” game. These have simpler mechanics, more universally enjoyable themes, and many are cooperative. Titles to look for are Ticket to Ride (my personal favorite for new players), Settlers of Catan, Forbidden Island, Carcassone, Codenames, Pandemic, Splendor, King of Tokyo, For Sale, and Sushi Go! If you’re looking to dig even deeper, BoardGameGeek is the site for all things board games.

Please accept this post as an open invitation. If you find yourself in [our office] for lunch, grab your meal at the cafe downstairs and join us for a game. We are experiencing a golden age of board gaming. Are you in?

Special thanks to hand models [redacted] and [redacted]