“Challenge yourself. If you don't understand how to play it, play it until you understand.”
I was recently reading a study on brain health and memory, which inspired me to share one of my personal hobbies that has brought me vast amounts of joy and great memories: Playing games. About 2,000 men and women, age 70 and older, participating in the long-running Mayo Clinic Study of Aging showed that those who used the computer at least once a week were 42% less likely to develop memory and thinking problems than those who rarely logged on. This study also showed that playing games would decrease the chances memory loss by 14%. I was really encouraged by 'this, because this news helps to encourage families to get together in the home and play a game. Board games that include strategies, counting, and moving parts/pieces like Monopoly, or remembering who and what you have eliminated in a "who-done-it” game like Clue, or even keeping track of the shares owned by each player in the real estate game Acquire (my all time favorite) are GREAT brain boosters.' Games not only challenge and keep the brain firing, they also bring families and friends together. Games help children learn how to lose, and more importantly, how to be a gracious winner. They also teach parents how to throw a win to one of the children without letting them realize it. Games open mouths to mothers that need to hear how their children each deal with
challenges, and they teach children how to ask for help in understanding rules. This list is a just a drop in the bucket of benefits from playing games.
We work full-time, and we all have causes we commit time and energy to. We are bombarded by media on our phones, TVs, even the radio in the car. Entertainment is
good, but experiencing it with family and friends is better. This upcoming generation has more options than ever to escape into entertainment, but we need to remember the importance of turning off electronics every so often. Would we know what to do with our families and friends if there were no phones, no computers, no TVs?
Here are some ideas to help a family that is new to game playing:
- Look at the age ranges and time keys on the outside of the game's box. Start with a time and age that you feel is a little 'shorter and younger than you feel like you would like, and ease into it with family members.
- Find theme games that your family would enjoy.
- Read the instructions, and then search YouTube for a video on how to play the game. Play a round or two to get the hang of it, and then start over. Play as teams, and ask your young children to be on your team. This will help them get the game play down while still having an advantage to the older kids, and it's a great way to work closely with them.
- Look at games you're thinking about on boardgamegeek.com, and read the user reviews. This will help you choose a better game for your group/situation.
- If you aren't committed to finishing a game you can share with friends, invent a game! You will have gone through a great deal of strategy and mental work in designing it.
- When your family or friends are ready, step it up. Play some intense strategy games, like Risk. This is great for children and adults to maintain the skill of learning something new.