The Benefits of Board Gaming Cooperatively in this Isolation Period

The Benefits of Board Gaming Cooperatively in this Isolation Period

Over the years, as I have talked to parents and teachers in the course of this hobby mixed with a job (toy specialist), there is something in common for those that deal with children and that is that kids don't like to lose and who can blame them. Thus, that is why it is preferred to teach them early on that life is not all sunshine and self-satisfaction and that accepting loss is part and parcel of everyday life.

That being said, there is an easier and much saner way (according to some parents I talked to) to teach that lesson in a fun way and that is by using board games and to start out by playing a cooperative one. 

Firstly, as mentioned above, people, in general, don't like to lose and thus it is completely normal for a child to protest that fact but to prevent a self-serving attitude from developing into something more permanent, it is good to deal the lesson quickly that losing will happen and it is better to deal with it than to make it worse by pampering them to the contrary.

The benefits of a cooperative game are of course that you are working with the child to win the game. Thus any trust issues that can come from taking a lesson from an "opponent's" conflict of interest are eliminated. Also, for your sanity, if you all were to lose the game together, the child's displeasure is spewed onto the imaginary enemy of the game rather than yourself. Utilising a board game as a platform, you can build on it to teach so many good lessons, such as with the game Pandemic, which you can use to teach that each virus cube is a group of people being cured but sometimes we have to forgo curing some people to travel to find the cure at the disease center. A balance of what does the most good but still achieves the overall goal. 

Another hurdle that cooperative games have is that since you are working together, the process of teaching can be tailored to the person you are playing with. Compared to if you were playing a competitive game and you forgot to tell someone a rule that would affect them, it could be seen as sabotage but in this case, if the child seems to be losing interest during the rules explanation, you can just teach as you play. 

Also, another big thing about playing with kids is that there are times where you feel you have to hold back so you don't beat them too completely in a competitive state or even in some cases let them win. That is firstly not very fun and thought-provoking for the parent or teacher and thus turned from a game into an activity with the kid. Thus, with many cooperative games, like the Forbidden series: Forbidden dessert, island and sky. You can tweak the game difficulty and while still keep the game challenging enough for yourself. If the child is still learning you can make it easier than you usually play to compensate for the child making decisions (which you should not alpha the game) and mistakes as they play. 

With that, in case you are swarmed with all the new cooperative games out there and want some recommendations of a progression of Cooperative games you can get over a period of time by increasing/decreasing the difficulty of rules. My quick recommendation is first to start off with the granddaddy of them all, Pandemic, then move on to the Forbidden Island, dessert or sky (Whichever theme you like), then maybe as a true family experience Pandemic Legacy. I hope this will help even beyond the isolation period for you and your family and bring many a smile, enjoy.  

Email: huibin@toytag.com
Zhou Huibin is a smith of words who majored in Philosophy & History from the University of Western Australia and whose life has followed the flow of his hobbies. He seeks continual contentment in his ponders, reading, writing, painting and board games which fills almost all of his time.
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