Although is article may seem to be focused on my demographic, i.e. middle aged men. In fact it is aimed at showing the positive social benefits of board gaming as a modern leisure pursuit.
Middle Aged Male Loneliness
A recent article by the Boston Globe highlights a number of problems that afflict middle aged men. There are the obvious health threats like cancer, heart disease, or obesity. The one issue the article highlights is that of loneliness, or isolation. The gist of the article is that most middle aged men have to focus on their work and home commitments at the expense of their own social life. As a result, old relationships drift apart, regular social events stop being regular and people become more isolated. And a side affect of being isolated is that it is bad for your health.
“That’s why Schwartz and others say the best way for men to forge and maintain friendships is through built-in regularity — something that is always on the schedule.”
Let us first look at the regular social activities that would appeal to middle aged males.
Common Middle Aged Male Pursuits
It is hard for a busy adult to justify taking time away from their responsibilities. For arguments sake let us look at some examples of leisure activities for might appeal to a middle aged man.
- Go to a bar: The negatives here are obvious, booze. Booze is costly, too much alcohol is bad for you. Let alone the negative social aspects of using drink as the center of a social activity. As a cause of spousal friction, this one is one of the worst options for a regular social activity.
- Fantasy Football/Going Fishing: Regardless of the excuse, the activity is to consume booze with the boys. This is similar to going to a bar, booze is the focus.
- Eating out: Food is the excuse, getting out is the goal. Food costs money, and it is probably not very healthy too.
- Reading: Do not get me wrong, I love reading. I have many books that I want to read. Reading is a nice distraction, but it is not being social.
- Online Games: These are a fun distraction. Along with booze this will probably a big cause of spousal friction. Online gaming may give a semblance of social interaction, it is not the same as interacting with a real person face to face without a computer.
- Take up a hobby at home: Just like reading, this is good ‘me‘ time. This has a number of downsides; space, cost, and the lack of social interaction element that is apparent with solo activities. Do not under estimate the benefit of having time spent away from the home.
- Work, church, family: For many people these are the extent of their social circles. We meet up with mostly the same people, and do the same things. There may be a lack of variety in the people, and the activities these group undertake.
While there may well be pressure to spend time with the family, and to concentrate on our responsibilities. I hope you would agree that middle aged men need regular social activities for their emotional, and physical, well-being.
Not Just For Middle Aged Men
Are they the only demographic that can feel isolated due to the hectic modern way of life? I think not. Targeting just middle aged men with 2.3 kids is losing sight of how out society has changed. An ever growing social issue is the narrowing of the social lives for many adults. With our lives being more hectic it is harder to maintain wide social circles.
Social isolation is not just a problem for middle aged men.
Board Games As A Solution
Board games have now become another reason to get together with people. The board games are the focus. For me they have become my go-to excuse to have quality time interacting with people who I enjoy spending time with.
Enjoying a drink, or some food, is a perfectly fine accompaniment to many social activities. This includes board games. They do help to lubricate and promote social interaction, just remember two things. Keep the food and drink to a reasonable amount. Secondly, keep the food and drink away from the games.
Board Games Is An Inclusive Hobby
Board games are not just for children, they never were just for children. Nowadays there are so many board games there are enough choice there is something to appeal to everyone. There are games for all ages, and experience levels. What comes as a surprise to many is the variety of choice in modern board games. The board game related website BoardGameGeek.com has a database of over 89,000 board and card games.
It is hard for a busy adult to justify taking time away from their responsibilities. Instead of feeling guilt at taking time apart is is possible to make gaming time into shared time.
Having a board game night with some food and drink is also a way to bring along the spouse. The gamers can get together and play some games while the non-gamers can mingle. With the inclusion of some fun, lighter or party games it is possible to appeal to the gamers and non-gamers alike. A great way to involve all types of people is to play a fun party type game like Telestrations.
Modern board games can appeal to everyone.
What never ceases to amaze me are the variety of different people who enjoy modern board games. The ages, races, religions, and professions of gamers are extremely varied. The glue for these people spending time together is their shared enjoyment of board games. This allows people to interact with others that they would normally not socialize with.
I believe it is very beneficial to socialize with people outside of the standard family, work, and church social circles. Board gaming is a great way to socialize.
The Other Benefits of Modern Board Gaming
The obvious benefit of playing modern board games is to have a fun time interacting with other human beings. What will surprise some people are the other, unforeseen, benefits that people can derive from playing modern board games. Here are some of these hidden benefits:
- Interact with a wide variety of people.
- Challenge yourself to do well at the games.
- Polish your interpersonal skills.
- Form new social relationships.
- You will make new friends.
- Time spent away from the digital devices.
- Share fun times with other people.
- Family game night with games that are actually fun to play.
- Teach your kids life skills. For example: how to win , or lose with grace and dignity.
- Learn analysis, or negotiation skills.
Board games have a lot to offer people. The image of board games is that of simple children’s games that have little place for grown adults. This is not the case. They have benefits that are very relevant to today’s society. Join a game group, or form you own. Find out for yourself.
20th March 2017
Note: Do not misunderstand me on a few aspects that I mention above. As a social introvert I need my alone time, my ‘me’ time. People need time to recharge themselves; introverts need to do that alone, and extroverts need time around other people. See an article at the bottom for a great graphic on the subject. The key point is knowing what works for you, and then making sure that you get the type of ‘me’ time that works best for you.
Secondly, as any one you knows me will attest, I also like to enjoy the odd drink. When I look back at my younger days I realize that drink was the excuse to be sociable with people. Having a drink as the motivation then forces people to drink more. And we all know that is not good for many reasons.
Know an introvert ? This is a interesting article on how introverts, and extroverts, recharge. The graphic below is a great visual representation of the differences.