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What’s So Great About Tabletop Gaming?

Many gamers might argue the benefits of tabletop vs. video gaming. And many gamers tend to have a stronger preference for one over the other. While both provide entertainment, there are elements and experiences in tabletop gaming that can’t quite be achieved playing video games.

As we quickly approach International Tabletop Day 2018 this Saturday, here are a few aspects to consider if you’re thinking about getting into tabletop gaming, or encouraging others to start playing!

Tangible Objects

Video gaming, at minimum, requires using a technological or electronic device of some sort to play. Tabletop gaming, however, involves using several tangible, 3D “goodies” that you physically maneuver.

Depending on the game, you might use dice, cards, miniatures, meeples, fake currency, game boards, pen and paper, dials, rulers, and measuring tapes, among other accessories. Some might think that having to keep track of actual objects is cumbersome. But the game pieces are what help to make tabletop games “come to life”, so to speak. Using them gives you perspectives in a physical and cognitive sense, among other learning-related benefits!

When you physically move miniatures or markers, draw cards, or roll dice, you become immersed and active in the game in a different way than just looking at a device screen. You are more invested because you get to see the entire “lay of the land” in a non-virtual world. This helps you strategize and make decisions in your gameplay.

Modifications and Adjustments

This is where many could argue that video gaming is supreme, especially with today’s technology and game design advancements. What we’re able to do and see in video games now are incredibly impressive compared to the early days of Pong or Pac-Man!

Video games, however, are still based on technical programming and artificial intelligence at their very core. There are still limits to what a player can do within a game, or what happens to their characters, no matter if he or she is playing on a game console, a smartphone, or using virtual reality.

Tabletop gaming in general allows you to adjust as you go, customize rules, set your own “house rules”, or play at your own pace. Situations are more “organic” and can happen so spontaneously that they immediately change the game’s course, tone, and momentum. There’s also no re-playing a level in the middle of a game if this happens. You just go with it!

Some games are completely determined by the course of one’s imagination and/or chance, as is the case with tabletop role-playing games. The Dungeon Master or Game Master creates environments, scenarios, countless secondary characters, and even entire worlds for players to become immersed and tell a story. And events that happen in an RPG cannot be determined by algorithms or programming!

The Human Element

When you play a video game, you are primarily interacting with an electronic device. If you’ve got friends playing with you, it may be a social engagement, but the activity mainly happens with an electronic screen and game controllers.

In tabletop gaming, you are interacting with people! Many times, you are looking at each other’s faces, perhaps to read body language or facial expressions to try to anticipate what the other person is going to do on his or her turn. Tabletop games require verbal communication face-to-face, as opposed to online in a chat room or by using a headset.

Being physically present with a group of people also encourages social bonding. There are nuances, behaviors, and reactions that happen in a tabletop game that you don’t necessarily experience in video gaming (especially if you’ve never met your fellow gamers). Playing a tabletop game with others can teach you about how you and your peers approach problem-solving, strategy, and even how each person handles sportsmanship.

Tabletop gaming also provides relief from technology. We’re on our phones, computers, and tablets more than we probably think or realize. Social media and smartphone games can hold you hostage without you being aware. Our phones alone distract us (or in some cases, help us avoid) having real conversations with loved ones and friends.

Putting these devices down for a few hours and playing a tabletop game instead encourages you to disconnect from outside distractions and instead helps you to re-connect with other humans.

Give Tabletop Gaming a Try!

We challenge you to give tabletop gaming a try. For one hour a week, grab a few friends or family members and sit down together to play a tabletop game. If you are already an avid gamer, perfect! Encourage someone you know who could use more meaningful human interaction in their life to play a game with you and a small group of others. You may be surprised by the results!

Join us this Saturday, April 28th from 11am – 6pm for International Tabletop Day! We will have scheduled board games and miniature game demos at different tables for you to enjoy! Visit our Facebook event page for info!

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