Skip to content ↓

News & calendar

Wellbeing Matters - Co-operation

'Board Game Geek', Matt Shroff, explains how elements of play in co-operative games, reflect how we as humans in the wider society should and could get on. Read on...

There is a website called 'Board Game Geek'.  It currently lists about 60,000 board games and related accessories.  Did you know there were that many in existence?  There are obvious ones, such as Risk and Monopoly, but there are loads of other games too, and more coming out every year.  In fact, there are websites, blogs, magazines and conventions all dedicated to board games of all shapes, sizes and themes.

I am officially a Board Game Geeker, although nothing compared to some people.  I enjoy them in many different forms.  However, my favourite play style is 'co-operative' and their themes are usually Sci Fi, Fantasy and Nature.

Co-operative games are a real eye-opener if you've never played them.  They range from entry-level games such as 'Pandemic' all the way through to complex and challenging ones such as 'Arkham Horror' (based on the works of Lovecraft).  Why are they intriguing?  Because so many of the elements of play reflect how we as humans in the wider society should and could get on.

In a game, players need to decide who is going to do what.  This means taking advantages of any skills or talents they may have as either a character or a player.  Then there is evaluating risk and gain.  There is balancing time and thought with action.  There is problem-solving.  There is teamwork.  There is coping with problems and overcoming challenges.  There is the unexpected and the unlucky. 

Of course, alongside those which rely on co-operation are the games which are adversarial; those relying on the players being competitive against others. But in this day and age, with everything that is going on in the world, we certainly do need to learn how to work alongside others, to understand through roleplay that 'we succeed and fail together, not as individuals'. 

Stepping aside from the games analogy and applying these same principles to educating young people, I am struck with the parallels.  Not to say we should be playing co-operative games at school (although I wouldn't object!), but there are lessons to be learnt and principles to be tried.

So next time you're thinking of buying or playing a game, give co-operative games a thought.  There is a lot to be gained.  Let me know how you get on!

Matt Shroff
Director of Wellbeing

Our Location