Board Games vs. Video Games: Comparing Apples to Oranges?

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Board games and video games are two of the most popular forms of entertainment enjoyed all over the world. While both offer unique and engaging experiences, comparing them is like comparing apples to oranges. In this article, we will explore the history, advantages, and disadvantages of board games vs. video games to gain a better understanding of the two.

Which Came First?

Board games are some of the oldest forms of entertainment in the world, with the oldest known board game being the ancient Egyptian game of Senet, which dates back to 3100 BCE. It wasn’t the only one, either – far from it. Board games have been around for thousands of years and have evolved over time to become the games we know and love today.

Video games, on the other hand, are a relatively new form of entertainment. Shocking info, we know. The very first video game, “Tennis for Two,” was developed in 1958 by physicist William Higinbotham and was played on an oscilloscope. The game was not designed as a video game in and of itself, but rather as part of an interactive science exhibit designed to captivate people and demonstrate the extent of technology. The experiment was such a success that people were queuing up to try it.

oscillograph from 1952
Impressive by 1958 standards.

There’s no denying that board games and video games have influenced each other over time. Board games have inspired earlier video games, while later on, video games would push board games to innovate and improve. This mutual influence has created a friendly rivalry between the two, with each medium striving to be the best it can be.

Video games have also had a significant impact on board games, with many popular board games being adapted into video games and vice versa. Games like Monopoly, Risk, and Settlers of Catan have all made the transition to video games, while video games like The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy have been turned into board games. This crossover has allowed both mediums to reach new audiences and expand their fan bases.

Although board games and video games share some similarities and influence each other, they are fundamentally different forms of games, each with its unique advantages and disadvantages. 

Advantages of Playing Board Games

Board games have been a popular form of entertainment for centuries, providing social and intellectual stimulation to players of all ages. In the last decade, there has been a resurgence of interest in board games, with many innovative and different types of board games being developed. However, as with any activity, playing board games has both pros and cons.

Due in part to the resurgence of tabletop gaming culture and the development of new games in recent years, board games have become more popular than ever. 

Advantages:

  1. Social interaction
  2. Tangible components
  3. Unplugged entertainment

Social Interaction

Board games are often considered to be more social than video games. While video games can have social aspects, they are typically not as essential or prevalent as in most board games, which are designed to be played and enjoyed with others and often require face-to-face interaction, communication, and collaboration.

There is even a subcategory of board games called “social games” that are specifically designed to facilitate social interaction and engagement among players. With board games, the social aspect is a crucial component of the experience, making them a great way to connect with others and have fun together.

Tangible Components

The tactile nature of game pieces and boards can be aesthetically pleasing and satisfying. The physicality of moving pieces, rolling dice, and handling cards adds a tangible aspect to the gaming experience that can’t be replicated in the digital realm. This tactile engagement can lead to a deeper appreciation for the game’s design and a more immersive experience.

Flamecraft dragons and cards
Especially when they are as lovable as Flamecraft ones.

This is why your RPG game master often uses miniatures, maps, and other elements to help immerse you in the world they have created. 

Unplugged Entertainment

Board games offer a break from screen time and technology, something we all need from time to time, providing an opportunity for players to disconnect from the digital world and engage in a more traditional form of entertainment. Playing games can reduce stress and encourage mindfulness as players focus on the present moment and the game at hand.

Disadvantages of Playing Board Games?

While board games can be a fun and engaging way to spend time with family and friends, there are also some potential downsides to consider. 

Disadvantages

  1. Setup and cleanup time
  2. Space requirements
  3. Limited replayability

Setup and Cleanup Time

Sorting through game pieces, shuffling cards, and organizing components can also be time-consuming, which might deter some individuals from playing, particularly those with limited leisure time or who don’t want to deal with it. Let’s not forget that you can easily lose or misplace a crucial board game piece or meeple. 

And then you have truly massive games, which take a long time to set up and put away, whereas a video game can simply be started or stopped with a simple click of a button. 

Space Requirements

One of the main disadvantages of board games is the amount of space they require for storage and play. Unlike most video games, board games often come in large boxes that can take up a lot of shelf space. 

Earth board game
You may also need a bigger table to play some of them.

Additionally, as board game collections grow, finding space for all of them can become increasingly challenging. While some enthusiasts may choose to display their collection as part of their home decor, not everyone has the luxury of extra space to do so. Overall, the space requirements for board games can be a significant drawback for those who value efficiency and minimalism.

Limited Replayability

Other board games may lose their appeal after several playthroughs, especially if they lack variety or depth, while some outright require you to destroy a part of your board game in the process. The limited replayability can lead to boredom and a decrease in interest in playing the game. This is something both board and video games share. Some games are meant to be played only once. 

Advantages of Playing Video Games

Video games have come a long way since their inception, from the very first video games to the sophisticated, immersive experiences available today. In recent years, video games have exploded in popularity, becoming a ubiquitous form of entertainment that transcends age, gender, and cultural barriers. 

Despite the criticism and controversy that have often surrounded video games, there is no denying that playing games offers a wide range of benefits to players. 

Advantages:

  1. Accessibility
  2. Immersive experience
  3. Improves hand-eye coordination and reaction time

Accessibility

Video games can be played on various devices and platforms, making them accessible to a wider audience. From consoles to personal computers and mobile devices, modern video games cater to different preferences and budgets, ensuring that there is something for everyone.

Immersive Experience

When compared to board games, they offer a more engaging experience thanks to their detailed visual graphics, realistic sounds, and interactive storytelling. Players can become fully absorbed in the game’s world, developing a deeper connection to the characters and the narrative. 

Girl with a VR set
So immersive that I punched the wall.

With the introduction of VR, video game immersion levels got even higher than we previously imagined. Modern video games are pushing the boundaries of what we thought possible just 20 years ago. This degree of immersion can result in a more emotionally compelling experience and fulfilling gaming entertainment.

Improves hand-eye coordination and reaction time

Most video games require quick reflexes and precise hand movements, which can improve your hand-eye coordination and reaction time over time. This can be especially beneficial for people who play video games and also engage in other physical activities that require quick reactions. 

Studies have shown that playing electronic games can also help improve cognitive abilities such as attention, spatial awareness, and problem-solving skills. So not only are video games entertaining, but they can also be beneficial for your overall cognitive and physical health.

Disadvantages of Playing Video Games

As much as modern video games offer a wealth of benefits, they also have their downsides. While some of the disadvantages of video games are overstated or based on misconceptions, others are very real and have significant implications for players. 

  1. Potential for addiction
  2. Cost
  3. Technical issues

Potential for Addiction

Games can be highly addictive, leading to unhealthy amounts of screen time and potentially affecting mental health. Overindulging in video games can result in a sedentary lifestyle, which is linked to a number of health problems. Additionally, video game addiction can have negative impacts on personal relationships, school performance, and work productivity.

Cost

Video games and gaming systems can be pricey, and there may be recurring expenses in the form of downloadable content (DLC) and online subscriptions. These expenses can add up over time, making video gaming an expensive hobby. Moreover, the rapid advancement of technology can make it necessary to upgrade gaming systems or devices frequently, further increasing the overall costs.

Insides of the gaming PC with liquid cooler
The more RGB light it has, the faster it is.

Technical Issues

Bugs, crashes, and hardware failures can happen with video games and gaming devices. These issues can interrupt gameplay, cause frustration, and even lead to the loss of progress in a game. Moreover, resolving these issues may create additional expenses, such as purchasing new hardware, installing software updates, or seeking technical support.

Board Games vs. Video Games: Which Is Better?

While video games have become a dominant force in the entertainment industry, board games continue to hold their own. Ultimately, the answer to the question of which is better, board games or video games, is subjective. Each form of entertainment offers its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks. 

While some prefer video games, others prefer board or tabletop games, but nothing is stopping you from enjoying both. In the end, it’s not a matter of one being inherently better than the other; it’s about finding the perfect balance between the two and enjoying the best of both worlds. 

FAQ

  1. Are board games better than video games?

    Neither is better than the other. They each have their benefits and drawbacks. In the end, it’s only down to your personal choices. So, play games you like, whether they are board games or video games—it doesn’t matter.

  2. Are you a gamer if you play board games?

    Yes. Being a “gamer” isn’t exclusively reserved for video games, though they are the loudest about it.

  3. Are you a gamer if you play board games?

    There are several benefits to playing board games, including building memory, reasoning, and logic.

Milos Djurovic

Milos Djurovic

Milos started his RPG journey with live-action role-playing, and his geeky hobbies escalated quickly from there. He’s a grizzled Imperial Guard general and still wages an ongoing war against unpainted grey miniatures. Having an active board gaming crew doesn’t help with finding free time, but he doesn’t mind.