Why Are Board Games So Popular?

People love playing board games as much today as they always did, despite the onslaught of computer games played on consoles at home or on handheld devices while on the go. Classics such as chess and checkers are played indoors on ornate boards with hand carved pieces as well as on the move on travel sets played on the back seats of cars and in railway carriages.

So why are these often referred to as "old fashioned" board games still so popular when there are so many apparently more visually exciting games to play on electronic devices? This article takes a look at what gives board games their appeal and why they will always remain popular.


Most board games have a multi-person playability factor that far exceeds most electronic games for the sheer fact that they are relatively simple to learn and allow players to physically touch and move their pieces around the board. There is no denying the fact that the human hand is infinitely more manoeuvrable when applied to moving solid objects on a flat surface than it could possibly be deploying a game joystick or series of buttons to move virtual players through a virtual landscape.

There is also a high degree of intellectual interaction with board games in that players have to think about and plan their strategy and continually alter that strategy as the opponent alters theirs. This evolving game is something that cannot occur with a programmed piece of software that is limited by its internal variables with anything coming close to the variables that can occur when the human brain is put to work.

Instruction Set and Match

Most computer based games must be played according to the rules and game strategy that is built-in when it was programmed and there is generally no room for evolving a game as it progresses.

You may argue that a game of checkers is far more limited because there are only a few actual moves that can ever be made. You may believe that because there are only black and white pieces that the game must therefore be extremely simple.

Yet it is not so much the game, its rules and its physical limitations that actually restrict the flow of a game. A game of checkers can become quite complex when you add in the ability and skill level of the players and their individual strategies that are constantly being tweaked as each opposing move is made.

More complex is chess, where each game's strategy can be almost limitlessly variable depending on the level of skill, imagination and experience of the players.

Excitement Factor

Board games have an excitement factor that can far exceed that of any computer game because it is created in the imagination of the players, rather than being delivered by the game itself. This is a big difference that many people just don't get.

A person's imagination creates their game plan in a board game and it is that game plan that is pitted against an opponent with their own game plan. The excitement comes from realizing you are outwitting your opponent and manoeuvring your pieces into a position that will win the game. And you are doing it all yourself, thanks to the power of the human mind.

A computer game side-steps that part of the equation by eliminating the need for the player to think for themselves about strategy, since the strategy is already in built into the game. While amazing graphics, sound and storyline can be exhilarating to a point, it stops short of amazing because there is no real work for the human mind to do apart from figure out how the game will play out. Once that has happened, the game is over and there is little point in playing it again, because the strategy will not change and the outcome is always the same!

So that's essentially who board games are so popular and why people enjoy playing them so much.