Do You Want to Play a Game? March 14, 2017

Game Night

I admit that after a long day in the office, a trip to the grocery store, making dinner and cleaning up afterwards, I’m not always the first one to jump up and say, “Let’s play a game!” I’m awake, but my brain is exhausted. Or so I think.

There’s something absolutely magical about opening the box for game night. Sometimes Lars chooses a game. Sometimes it’s Alexis’ choice. Sometimes they both get the one they want. Picking a suitable game can be a challenge given their 4.5 year age difference. For Lars, it seems like his sister will never grow up so we can play harder games. For me, I’m in no hurry to rush that growing up part. I mean, look at Lars. That happened fast!

The smiles (and squabbles) inevitably break out. My exhausted brain relaxes into the chaos of teaching a 4 year old the Monsters in the Closet card game. Shouting ‘Get back into the closet you monster’ at a giant cardboard card is pretty hilarious when you’re four (or forty).

Playing is a fun, non-threatening way for kids to learn basic rules, cooperation, and communication. Frankly, it’s good for adults, too. Neurons fire and dopamine releases in the brain as you willingly force it to learn something new.

The intellectual as well as the cognitive benefits of learning through play is well documented. Children that frequently engage in hands-on play whether it be solo or with others tremendously benefit from the experience.

It’s not just for the kids, though. More and more research suggests that adults benefit from game time too. In a world full of digital distractions, a little bit of hands on fun is good for the mind and soul. In fact, Lego has developed a methodology called Serious Play. Serious Play is geared towards encouraging innovation in the workplace. Games aren’t just for home anymore.

As for now, it’s time to put the serious me aside and play some Loopin’ Chewy with the family. Pick a night, any night, and make it a game night. It doesn’t have to be once a week. It can be spontaneous. You can turn off the lights and make up shadow puppets using the flashlight on your mobile phone.

Half an hour of talking and laughing with your spouse and kids is enough to completely erase a bad day at work. What are you waiting for? Anytime is a good time for game time.

“You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than you can from a lifetime of conversation.” -Plato