Why we humans play a game? Is it for the challenge, the excitement, and the adventure? Yes, we all look for these emotions while we play the game, but it is fun that is at the core of all these emotions. If you observe closely, we humans always strive to fulfill our fundamental needs of physical, security, social, ego, actualization and growth. If you put game-play in need context, it will almost fit into all basic needs.
It might be your physical requirement, depending on the need of healthy body or for security need as we seek safety, stability to realize the social need like the fulfillment of love, belonging and inclusion through family, friendship or society. Your urge to play the game can help you fulfill your ego needs like power, control, prestige, self-esteem, etc. or simply for the higher-level need of self-actualization or growth need like honesty, independence awareness, creativity, reasoning, and originality.
Sounds interesting, isn’t? Let’s understand the fundamental quest of emotional balance humans need to achieve in real life or simulated like real-life situations. Playing games helps us learn and master the art of control over body and emotion. So, we all need to play games in one form or the other. Whether outdoor or indoor, physical or mental, real or virtual, it all depends on your need to find the balance of all fundamental needs.
We have a sheen tectonic shift in people’s behavior since the arrival of the internet-enabled phone, especially the smartphone and its large-screen counterpart the tablet with a touch-screen. According to a popular survey of play habits of children, more than 60% of participating parents reported “often” and 38% “very often” game-play on touch-screen tablets.
So the question is, are we heading towards the extinction of puzzle and board games? Could mobile tech replace traditional games like a puzzle and board games? If we go by the survey, signs are visible? It is definitely not product cannibalism, as most of the puzzles and board games, classical and modern, are available in digital format. Our concern is not what they play, but how they play? Will this tech-driven behavioral change has a negative impact on other aspects of life?
If we go by digital game psychology, it fulfills the need for escapism as most of the gamers play simply to get away from reality. We have to understand why this shift is happening and what the factors are and what is making digital games popular among neo-generation;
It is very natural for anyone to feel great about something one is good at and get recognized for it. The sense of mastering situation, progress towards the goal and accomplishing gives immense joy. It is like any real-life situation whether career path, a new job or learning new skills.
Game developers know well about these intrinsic human needs and embed it with the game smartly so that you enjoy that emotional state. They introduce you to challenge, increase the level in progression, show the competitive position and of course give you virtual rewards.
All these elements are there in the real-life puzzle and board games, but the declining popularity raises a question in mind why the digital version on a tablet is getting popular? Does it cost or usability or simply the time-packed lesser socialistic lifestyle?
The desire for independence and control is one of the biggest motivators for humans. Games available in mobile or tablet version ensure exactly that sense of control over the action and situation. As this is rarely fulfilled in real life, we love to be in that state of mind while playing games on the tablet. We want to avoid that frustration of not having control over the situation or action, so these games give you the desired to escape from reality. This virtual sense of autonomy gives it an added advantage. Interestingly, it helps you avoid the bad feeling of failure as it gives you the virtual home of “try again.”
Here, the puzzle and board game fit better as this helps you face real-life challenges in a realistic manner with proper understand and outcome of loss and failure. So, it not only helps you enjoy the game realistically but prepares you for the real-life emotional situation.
When the connecting factor goes missing in real life, we strive to find it in the virtual world. Game designers know it well and bring the element of relatedness through online connectivity. Interestingly, the relatedness with the virtual character in the game also plays a big role in making it hit among people. You direct, interact with characters and it gives you the feeling that you are the one who is making all the difference.
Just opposite of that, in the real-life puzzle and board games, you face your players in reality and play according to live situation and let the original emotion come to face. Your emotion is not driven by the virtual situation, but the real-life situation and you connect with it act accordingly. The puzzle and board games enhance cognitive capabilities in a better manner as compared to digital games.
How Puzzle and Board Games are Better?
Digital games available on your mobile or tablet might have some cost, space, portability, usability edge over your favorite puzzle and board game. Let us see how the digital game is making a deeply negative impact on your mental and physical health.
By design video games are addictive in nature as it prompts you to play more and win more rewards to gratify yourself endlessly. Although, it would not be right to blame the game itself but keeping the immaturity of child in mind it is definitely pushing them to edge. In contrast, puzzle games and board gave has real-life fun element embedded in it and most of the games are played for short-span of time.
Some games, scripts have a heavy dose of violence in it. Since these are mission-oriented, it is very hard to leave it midway, resulting in a consistent heavy overload of violent content in mind. You may not like it, but in the long run, this makes you comparatively more aggressive and anti-social in nature. Whereas, most of the traditional or modern board games are very social in nature, helping you learn social skills in a very passive way.
It is proven doubt that escapist digital games create a virtual world for you and takes you away from real social life situations. Some of the observed traits among video gamers are hyper aggression, lack of socialization, lack of sense of belonging, and hyper egoism. This doesn’t end here; it kills your self-actualization as you stay away from the real-life competitive atmosphere. Board and puzzle game fulfill all your basic needs with a very minimal man-made issue like occasional friction.
Most of the video games are designed and developed to create a world of fantasy for you, resulting in a clash of reality and pixilated and reality. You will find a disproportionate presentation of woman sensualities, far away from real-world realities. Inboard or puzzle games you interact and mingle will real-life people, leaving a room for your imagination to grow in real space. You learn to respect and accept women in its most realist way.
Although not in large scale, digital games are showing its impact on the life of kids as they fail to manage time for other important works like school and social obligations. If pressured to somehow follow the basic minimum requirement children shows signs of anxiety, depression and related disease. The board game, if played in limits, doesn’t have these side effects. Rather, the fun and joy of group gaming help one cut stress level and learns the art of competitive excellence in a healthy manner.
A video game played on a tablet or mobile teaches isolates you from the social circle as you play individually with minimal interaction with anyone or interaction with virtually. Whereas, in a board game with 2 to 10 players you will learn the art of managing team and some of the leadership traits. These learning are so passive that you don’t even notice that you have learned the biggest tricks of business while playing.
You enjoy playing a video game on the tablet and all your harmonic reaction is genuine, but you are neurons are reacting to virtual reality. The board game gives you the real set up where you enjoy the game and you share your happiness with others.
Life is all about learning the balancing act and you will learn this art better from board games. No one is denying you the liberty to play popular video games, but try and understand the game of the video game industry. You cannot be a tool for their success. Play but within limits. The cost might be one of the factors, but if you consider the need for balancing act and time-waste into consideration, board games look more economical. The Boardgame has a limitation of space as you cannot bring your friends frequently to your small home. But the point is “frequency”, how regular you are and can you play in rotation in your friends’ place. A new skill of resource optimization, this is what the board game gives to you. Keep playing and have fun.