Friday, November 23, 2007

50 Life Skills You Can Learn While Playing (even something dumb like) Monopoly

Once in a while I respond lengthily to a board game related post around the blogosphere. In this case, it is Wandering Ether's post on the unease about competition in board games such as Monopoly. "What skills are being taught through a game like Monopoly?" he asks in a response to my first comment.

I rattled a few off the top of my head:

1. That time together is important.
2. That winning fairly is more important than winning.
3. That cheating is unfair to both you and your opponents, over time.
4. That even a competition requires cooperation, namely agreeing on when to play, what to play, special rules, and making the game an enjoyable experience.
5. That gambling is unreliable.
6. That odds matter, and 2s and 12s roll much less than 7s, so count on 7s.
7. That taking turns makes the game fun for everyone.
8. That a move that will upset someone, even if legal, may not be the best move.
9. That money has to be managed.
10. That turns are resources, just like money.
11. That negotiation can get you what you want.
12. That mutual benefit to two players will help both of you over the other players.
13. That promiscuous trading is beneficial in games and life.
14. That games don't take priority over life.
15. That even when you're losing you can enjoy the experience, if only by setting goals for yourself.
16. When diversity in holdings is better than concentration, and when not.
17. That a game that seems entirely random is only mostly so; some parts of the Monopoly board actually get landed on more frequently than others, over time.
18. That even a good plan can sometimes fail.
19. That usually good planning works better than poor planning.
20. What mortgages are, more or less.
21. That games provide a safe escape from the real world, and are inexpensive, as opposed to, say, drugs.
22. That people who are powerless in many other situations can shine in a game situation.
23. That even parents have to play by the same rules.
24. That games are a creation, with artistic merit and design, some more than others. They also have interesting histories.
25. That creativity can sometimes help you when the numbers can't.
25. That future planning can save you big time.
26. That humor makes any experience more enjoyable.
27. That things don't get cleaned up by themselves, and organization matters.
28. That if you work hard at something, you can get better at it.
29. That good stories make for good experiences, and vice versa.
30. That your parents cared enough about you to share family time when you were young.
31. How to count more quickly, and that math builds your mind.
32. That variations can be fun or bad, and need play testing and cooperation from all participants.
33. That other people also want to win and have feelings.
34. How to express yourself.
35. How to have patience.
36. How to abstract future realities.
37. How to have good manners.
38. How to overcome obstacles and fight on.
39. How to deal with the consequences of our actions.
40. How to concentrate on a single activity and sit still.
41. How to make tough decisions.
42. Why rules matter.
43. That one person's win is sometimes another's loss.
44. That rents are high.
45. That fortunes rise and fall.
46. That if you don't take care of your games, you won't be able to play them.
47. That you sometimes need help, and you sometimes can help others.
48. How to read the cards and board.
49. What taxes are.
50. About Atlantic City, or wherever your version is from, if you take the time to notice.

Games are opportunities. Every game is an opportunity. Every game, every single one. Take advantage of the unparalleled attention you're getting from your child Right Now. When else does he or she pay attention to you for two hours at a time?

I added that Monopoly gives those uneasy feelings because there's a lot of luck to the game, and minimal strategy and tactics. There's some skill, mind you, but not a lot. And I recommended a few games which might give better lessons in the same time frame.

Add your own comments to mine in the original post if you want to help this guy's kids before their family leaves board games behind.

Game News

Speaking of life lessons, here are some life lessons on economics from a speech by a chess master.

Faidutti discusses the phenomenon of games published without much intent on their ever being played. I thought he might be referring to art games, but he's referring more to collectible games. Which might be the same thing.

"Not meant to be played" has always been Monopoly's legacy, where most copies bought are never meant to be played, and are bought only as souvenirs. To whit, the Monopoly Carlisle edition.
It is not necessarily being bought to be played. A lot of people have been saying they will be putting it away and keeping it as a memento. That is the feedback we have had from customers.

The Sacramento Bee covers the local Eurogaming club. Deseret News does the same.

Johnny Appleseed planted orchards. John Goon plants strategy game clubs, and has started clubs all over the Washington area.

Some idiot busted a cribbage game at a gathering of veterans in Maine because of new and difficult to interpret state gambling laws.

An ex-NYPD policeman was so annoyed at the response to Ground Zero's restoration progress that he developed a politically charged board game to mock the responses.

Hungry Hank is yet another board game to teach us about obesity.

In the sad state of journalistic affairs, any game that has a board must be similar to Monopoly. Here's a Christian board game that is supposed to help you employ Christian teachings to become wealthy. Says Meg Hibbert, the article's author:
The game board and path to prosperity is similar to Monopoly, with important differences. Players choose game pieces that they move around the board with the goal of being first to get to the middle. Each player is given a budget with which to make everyday life choices, the couple explained, and earn prosperity points along the way.

In other words, it's exactly like Monopoly, except it isn't in any way whatsoever.

The first Seinfeld trivia game called In Pursuit of Nothing.

Forgotten Lore notes some board games developed by traditional computer game publishers and compares the two industries development processes.

Luis compares board games to console games.

The Grinch has stolen Christmas in Fort Myers, FL, as thieves made off with walls of toys and board games from a Salvation Army intended to be distributed to the underprivileged. Maybe toss them a few dollars while you're buying your gifts this holiday season.


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