Monday, November 29, 2010

The games people play

Do the board games families and children play really say anything about our society as a whole? The Washington Post seems to think so. Earlier this month, the newspaper reported that Settlers of Catan was training this decade's entrepreneurs - including Mark Zuckerberg.

As a novice player of the game, I have to admit there is some truth to the idea that Settlers requires more innovative thinking than a more traditional board game. Having an entirely new board laid out by random requires one to access the landscape and adjust your strategy from game to game. One could say that this recreational way to practice a transitional strategy builds out the cognitive functions associated with accessing and adapting to change.

There is also a rule that you can trade resources with your competition whenever they are willing to make the deal you offer. There is a lot of friendly negotiation and maneuvering with players that may then punish you when the dice rolls a 7 in their favor. A 2008 article about frenemy competition in Fast Company, touches on this necessity in business. If you play to "shake using a right hand while plotting your prey's demise with your left," just know you aren't the only one who might be preparing a sneak attack.

Settlers cannot be the only game on the market today that is training the leaders of tomorrow. As for my childhood favorites I credit Pick-up Sticks with my ability to persevere with a detail-driven task, Balderdash with my ability to bluff convincingly and CandyLand with my crippling sweet tooth. What games shaped your personality?

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