Board games have been around for thousands of years, providing entertainment when the Internet was well beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Today, board games are as popular as ever and taking on new forms as they go digital.
For National Game and Puzzle Week we’re taking a moment to highlight seven games that are more than just fun. Whether you’re a kid or an adult, these games provide a lesson in business every time you play. They fulfill our primal urge to succeed, take risks and outwit the competition without the fear of financial ruin that we face in the real world.
It’s the world’s most popular board game, but did you know the original name for Monopoly was Landlord’s Game? The book The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game discusses how the game’s creator, Elizabeth Magie, originally intended for Monopoly to teach about the dangers of capitalism. Over the years the purpose behind the board game totally flipped.
Today’s beloved board game teaches players the art of negotiation as property is bought, rented and sold. You have to make keen real estate decisions, taking advantage of auctions and paying off mortgages, without going bankrupt.
While it may not seem like it’s related to business, Pictionary teaches many valuable skills that can be utilized in the office. Teamwork, communication, clarification of ideas, creativity – all of these things help to make a business successful. Add the stress of a tight deadline and it’s almost an apples-to-apples comparison.
Trump: The Game
As you can tell by the name, this Milton Bradley board game was inspired by the infamous businessman Donald Trump. It’s tantamount to a luxury real estate version of Monopoly with much bigger bankrolls. However, unlike it’s predecessor, the outcome is closer to the real world with some players making bad business deals that leave them broke and others making a profit off of their properties.
Electricity is a big business, and the game Power Grid offers a very entertaining take on the balancing act of supplying power. The objective is to supply more power to more cities than the other players. The real business lessons here are balancing supply and demand as well as leveraging new technology. Players have to constantly factor in the changing rates of different energy resources based on supply and demand. They also have to consider how efficient energy resources and delivery systems are, which plays into the overall cost.
While this game isn’t strictly about business, it is focused on teamwork. It takes the concept of “no man is an island” literally. Instead of competing against each other, players must work together to beat the game by capturing treasures before the island sinks. Each player selects a character with unique capabilities that help strengthen the whole. You succeed or fail together much like running a real business in the real world.
Give kids 12 and up their first lesson on the stock market with this board game. The game starts with a number of companies that you can buy stock in and hopefully become a majority stockholder. As the game progresses mergers happen and those with the largest share of the stock get bonuses. All shareholders can cash out for face value when a business is acquired or get 2-for-1 shares in a new business.
This one may require a bit more brain power than you may otherwise dedicate to your Friday game nights, but it provides an excellent replication of making it in a business that produces goods. Based on your capital, you decide what goods to produce, buy the raw materials, create the product and sell your finished goods. This is another game where supply and demand affects the prices as you bid on materials and sell your products.
Within the ‘economic’ category on Boardgamegeek.com there are over 5,000 games listed. It’s surprising how many board games are based on ONE thing – business. This factor alone speaks to the entrepreneurial spirit we embrace in the United States. Here the possibility of owning and operating your own business is open to everyone. Board games give us the capital and opportunity to fantasize about that dream with a simple roll of the dice!
What’s your favorite business-related board game? Share your thoughts with us in the comments or on Facebook!