Unplugging to Connect: What happens when you spend two hours playing with your friends

When is the last time you spent two hours laughing, concentrating, puzzling, and trying to outscore your friends, all without electronics or screens?

This is what a good board game can do.

Shawn and I have been acquiring and playing board games for over ten years. They have been Christmas gifts, birthday presents, just-because purchases, and impulse buys. Our collection used to fill one six-foot bookcase, and now it fills four. The local game store has gotten to know us by name as we have sought out entertainment, challenge, and variety.

Before I met Shawn, my experience with board games was limited to Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Monopoly or Risk. I had no idea that there were so many more diverse and engaging options out there!

The games we have take anywhere from twenty minutes to four hours to play, though the average time is about the same length as a movie. Some are card-based, some use dice to run the game, and many have the classic fold-out board at the center of the table.

No matter the style, board games bring people together.

We have several friends who we see regularly because of games. We'll schedule monthly game nights and also send last-minute texts. Not only do we have fun, we also get to visit about the joys and challenges of life. Once play begins, we are immersed in strategy, cooperation, and discussion. We're not thinking about our social media feed or the latest viral video. 

It's a beautiful slice of life.

In this age of phones, tablets, and computers, we are called to remember to put the screen aside occasionally, to find ways of connecting to others in person through smiles, touch, and conversation. 

It's okay if board games don't appeal to you. There are other ways to unplug and reach out. 

: Work on a puzzle with a teenager. 

: Play soccer with a community league. 

: Build a LEGO kit with your family. 

: Go to an escape room with a group of friends.

: Attend a painting class with a colleague. 

What kinds of group activities do you enjoy?

What if you were intentional about making time for them?

Some recent Doorways:

  • I received a belated birthday card from a long-time friend with thoughtful words about how I've made a difference in her life. It was just what I needed after a rough day!
  • I opened the door to call in my dogs and was surprised by a small flock of blue jays in my backyard. I don't often see them in my area, so it was a special treat.
  • My book club group rotates hosts, and this month's meeting was held at a new member's apartment. When I arrived, I realized the building used to be the old hospital where I was born! It was neat to imagine what it looked like forty-one years ago.


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