Video killed the board game star

Kevin Niederman


As long as I can remember, games have dominated my free time. Whether it was tag on the playground, UNO after school or Pokémon on my Game Boy, I was totally enamored. Two kinds of games have stood the test of aging and boredom: board games and video games.

Video games have been a raging addiction of mine since my dad's roommate purchased a PlayStation when I was in first grade. Once I had one of my own, I was ecstatic.

All my friends from around the block would come over. We'd take turns playing Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot. We'd race and fight each other with Gran Turismo and Tekken. It was an event. A social event.

And then the Internet happened.

As time went on, games slowly stopped being about inviting friends over to crowd on a couch and share Cheetos, and more about them buying their own systems and staying in their own houses and eating their own Cheetos. Instead of the social event it use to be, it became all about the virtual connection.

Video games are a lot less about playing together than they are about playing by yourself. Online multiplayer functionality is basically a shortcut around programming convincing artificial intelligence for games by simply removing the artificial aspect.

It is for this reason that I am so deeply passionate about board games.

Board games have forever offered what video games did in the beginning: a gathering of friends laughing and screaming, while playing and interacting with each other and the game. There are snacks and music and smiles throughout.

Imagine a 10-hour marathon of a card game involving diplomacy, treachery and a fistful of luck. There's yelling and rage, laughter and joy, and nobody really cares who's winning or why. Alliances are made and broken in seconds and crafty players make deals extending into future games, and even the real world.

The game itself comes secondary to the friends you play with. The joy of monopoly doesn't come from the collection of cardboard tiles or tissue paper currency. It comes from your friend Clarence as he slowly crushes his Squirt can in frustrating disbelief after he lands on your hotel-laden Boardwalk. Take that Clarence, you jerk.

The game is simply a means to initiate human interaction at its finest. The whole spectrum of emotions that we typically get from reality TV are thrown into your face at full force, and it's usually amazing.

I have nothing against video games, and if I have to be by myself, then that's a guaranteed good time. But the stories I have from extensive board game sessions outnumber and out-awesome any of my experiences with video games. So if I have the option to play a board game, in the flesh, with even just one other person, then that's exactly what I'm going to do.

Kevin Niederman is a junior nursing major hailing from Santa Rosa CA, about an hour north of San Francisco. He enjoys cartoons, hats, and driving ridiculous distances for food that has the potential of being amazing.