Can anything compete with a gaming console?

ScotlandI remember gaming on a computer as a child.  It was great fun and created some wonderful memories, however at this time, the complexity of gaming on an electronic device, lacked the depth of board games and entertainment that could be found elsewhere.  For example, Space invaders, Pac Man etc could not replace the more involving game of say Dungeons and Dragons, or Monopoly.

The computer at this time was an extension to the entertainment in our house and was certainly not the focal point of our interest.

How things have changed today, the games console does just about everything else as well as games.  You’ve got your net access, Net flicks, you can watch live TV, chat in real-time to others, play single player games or play with others online.  The gaming console will play your DVD and BluRay movies (in the case of the Playstation) and its even managed to get in on peoples desire to get fit with titles that see a more energetic interaction with the device.

So when the console provides all this, how on earth can the traditional board games compete? The consoles even have most of them now too, so how can a cardboard box and some plastic counters compete with the audio/visual extravaganza of a Playstation, especially in the hearts and minds of the younger generation?  Of course we interact with his toys, make plastic models (and paint them) and play games at the park, but its the “traditional” board games I’m talking about.

This question didn’t really factor in my daily life, I’ve moved with the times, I’ve written about Tech and its developments.  I’ve embraced some modern devices and damned others – and all the while board games have been sat in our cupboards gathering dust and slowly succumbing to the one universal constant that everything will and does degrade. * Please lets not start a complex article about various materials, lets just take it as a given that a board game made of plastic and cardboard has a finite life span, even if the plastic will take a few thousand years to degrade.

I want to play a football game” my lad says to me.  “Ok, hang on” I say absent mindedly as I reach to the cabinet and switch on the Playstation to load up Fifa 15. “No not that one” he says.

e113141ede8746909ceec395e482fc3e0b1770a5.jpg__0x529_q85_upscaleI pause, what, he want’s to play Fifa 14? But that doesn’t have Luton Town in it, the Pro Evolution Soccer game we have is even older and I’m racking my brain to think of what football game he means.  “You don’t mean the FIFA World Cup game?” I ask him, as I had refused to buy that as the World Cup could be played in Fifa 14 and I didn’t see the point in paying even more money to EA Sports.

No” he says and goes on to point out an item in a catalogue.  Its Subbuteo, the table football game, a game played with little footballers that you flick at a ball into a goal.

I’m waiting for a punchline, some sort of joke I’m not getting and whilst I didn’t think my 6 year old had developed an advanced sense of humour overnight, I was struggling to see where this was going.

After a few puzzled looks and me misunderstanding his seriousness, the common sense electrical impulses were translated in my brain and I realized he actually did want the board game.  But why? What could be better than Fifa 15? You can chose your teams, buy players, experience life as a manager with playing styles and formations, what could little plastic players offer that the mighty Playstation couldn’t?

So I bought Subbuteo – it wasn’t cheap and I couldn’t help feeling that this would be a “phase” that would last about 1 hour or until such time that my lad realized the depth of play on the console far exceeded that of a tabletop game.  We do play table-top games, but thats more as a part of another hobby which involves making and painting plastic miniatures and something which has such a complex rule-set, it needs to be simplified in order that he can understand and enjoy it.

If I’m helping my son with his homework or reading a book together, there’s real-life interaction, but other than those daily tasks, the idea of entertainment (as a two player game) nearly always involved the console (if we are not out somewhere or at the park)  It goes without saying that as far as my lad is concerned, the console has limitations – only a certain amount of time per week can he play it and can only play titles which are suitable for his age range.

We started to play.  We laughed.  We shot little figures around a pitch, we scored goals and we played again.  And again.  And again.  It took a few days to realize that this “silly” board game had taken us from the Fifa 15, not because its a more in-depth game but because the interaction between the two of us was far more fun than a two player game of Fifa.

Subbuteo is just one example and it led me to think how much we are missing out on by relying on the console as an entertainment device.  Two player/Multi-player games are great fun, but there is something that the Playstation can’t replicate and thats real-life interaction.  As me and my lad would stare hypnotically at a screen, our hands moving on the controllers at warp speed, we were missing the real fun of a two player game – real life.

We still play Fifa 15 of course, but there’s a place now for a board game which has us running around the table trying to position our footballers to score a goal.

Soccer may not be your thing, but then there’s a plethora of board game interaction out there for you and your family to enjoy.  Why not ditch the console for a little while and give it a try?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. KG says:

    of course you could actually go ‘outside’ and kick a ‘football’ around together! ;>}

    1. openbytes says:

      Agreed and as I put in the article that is another option. The only “barrier” for this over and above simply playing a game indoors is that its based on weather and time of day. The article was more to do with highlighting that the console is not the be all and end all for gaming.

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