Physical board games being replaced with digital counterparts

(Photo by Parker Robb | Collegian) Traditional board games offer nostalgia and face time, while their technological counterparts are portable and convenient.Photo credit: Hannah Hunsinger

Sitting in a coffee shop, you might see a mother and her son sitting at a table together. They are not talking. The mom takes a tablet and makes a swiping motion on the screen before handing it to her son.

This continues for 10 minutes until, suddenly, the son throws his hands up and does an excited victory dance. Turns out, he just won a round of Scrabble against his mom without ever touching a wooden tile- thanks to the versatility to technology.

This is a different view of what people may typically picture when it comes to family games. Images of colorful boards, game pieces, dice and cards spread out across a kitchen or dining room table may traditionally come to mind. What probably doesn’t come to mind, however, is a small device capable of holding a closet worth of games in the palm of your hand.

Aaron Heil, sophomore in English, said the online version of the popular civilization-building game Settlers of Catan is a good example of board game converted to an online version.

“The website [is in the] base stage, so they are still working out the kinks,” Heil said. “It is a good thing they have the website for the game, because in my opinion, the target audience is nerdy guys who want to play online when they are not in the same room with other people.”

In spite of the convenience of having an online version of the game, Heil said he did not prefer it over the traditional “hard” copy, saying that he would much rather play with others in person. The digital version does, however, present the option to play with those who can’t always gather around the same table, he said.

“I use the online version because I play with my brother and our friends in other cities,” Heil said. “We are in Kansas City, Manhattan and Wichita and the online game works because we can just text or call whenever we play.”

Another perk to the online version of Settlers of Catan is game chat, which allows the players to communicate while playing the game.

“When we play we are able to chat about other things,” Heil said. “It is a way to connect even though we are not in the same area.”

Games linked to social media have emerged in the past few years, including Draw Something, Words with Friends and Ruzzle. These types of games allow individuals to keep a stream of games going over a long period of time without needing a long attention span. Each person can play their turn, then go about their day until the other player is able to make a move.

“At one point, my friend told me to download an app so we can play Ruzzle together,” Armando Rodriguez, sophomore in fine arts, said. “It gave us a way to stay connected during the day without making random conversation. I do notice that people go crazy over the new online games and play them for a couple months nonstop and then it just fades off.”

Rodriguez said he appreciates certain aspects of both digital and “real” games.

“Board games have the frustrating thing that you lose vital pieces to the game and then you cannot play the game correctly,” Rodriguez said. “(An online game) gets rid of that possibility. But the downfall to online games is that is is easier to cheat because you are not surrounded by other people; you do not have to bluff when playing a card game because no one can see.”

For people who are interested in playing games with friends, but are worried about a budget, online options are generally free or are pretty cheap.

“A person buys Monopoly for $25 and (they) play it once, and then they are (out) a lot of money for a one time thing,” Rodriguez said.

Regardless of the cost, some prefer the richness of the time with friends while playing board games in person.

Abigail Dilon, freshman in clinical lab science medical technology, said she prefers the face-to-face contact of playing a board game at a table with a group of friends.

“Technology is not as personal as face-to-face,” Dillion said. “(With) board games on devices, you cannot get together with a group of friends and really have fun.”