Long before life skills became a dominant troupe in social and professional discourse, board games have been giving us those tips in abundance through the flurry of exciting collections and brands that teach basic life skills to game players.
Board games incite unique ways of communicating and connecting with family and friends, strangers and random people, whose immersion in the games are symptomatic of our everyday, quotidian needs.
There are games that teach and promote logical, critical, and strategic thinking. There are many others that help you prioritize focus and attention, leadership and diplomacy, patience and insight, as well as developing entrepreneurial and business skills or resource management.
This article examines popular games that teach business through expressed skills in resource management, negotiation, and investments skills. Here they are:
The game of monopoly is a classic representation of the capitalist idea of competition in a market structure. Such sole seller controls prices that drive market value without any challenge or substitute.
There are popular fears about brutality exhibited by monopolists which are not necessarily what the board game typifies.
Summarily, the game is played with about two to eight players and they compete for property or asset ownership. It is played with invested cash and a pair of dice.
The winner of a round is the person with the highest amount of money at the end of the game.
In the game, players roll dice to count numbers within spaces to own empty properties, trade them to get money, and also develop houses or hotels to their playing advantage.
Players charge opponents fees or rents on properties they erstwhile settled into before them. Players could lose money through Chance, tax squares, etc., and could even end up in jail.
Typically, the game exemplifies the reality of economic and business life in a capitalist world. The game teaches basic business ideas such as:
i. Never run out of cash.
Having cash at hand is the goal of the game, and, by far, one of the core lessons in business. If you keep buying and are not strategic with your asset purchase, you lose so much money you end up losing out. That’s true in real life.
ii. Be strategic and patient.
That ties into the first point. You can’t afford not to have a game plan, as just acquiring properties or real estate is not how you win.
A general approach on building or planning out your acquisition with the right investment discipline is key.
Same way that an impatient investor or businessperson can’t reap much. Cash responds to planning in a way that fits the market. Tact, discipline, and patience are very key.
iii. Untamed appetite for expensive assets is not necessarily the wisest business strategy.
Monopoly players know, with time, that owning the Boardwalk or Park Place, though with the major payouts, are quite expensive to maintain. You run out of cash doing that. Those who win in the game focus on value accrued from owned assets. That’s an important business mentality.
iv. Ensure cash flows throughout.
That’s what the game is about, and also what business is about. Keep the cash inflow steady, and that’s why you can’t afford not to spread your net in terms of value of acquisition.
Don’t get stuck in one property, diversify. The same is true of business, not just at the personal, but also corporate or governmental level.
Diversification is the sole of survival even in your commitment and focus to the vision. Monopoly reminds you that keeping the cash in is also the vision.
2. Power Grid
The game is equally known as ‘Funkenschlag’ in German — which power grid is really the updated release of — and ‘Hoogspanning’ in Dutch — which has a lot of ideas useful for startups and business generally.
The game’s objective is about building utility all over a country, with each player owing a utility that can supply power.
Most cities are, therefore, expected to get power when a player’s utility or network increases in a determined size.
Actually, each player is responsible for connecting new cities to the growing power grid and they need to acquire raw materials like oil, coal, garbage, and uranium or nuclear material that the power plants need.
It is your ability to serve customers’ power needs that earns you more money to stay in the game.
3. The Game of Life
It captures the experiential realities of a player through life’s journey as seen through school, raising a family, getting a house, having a job, and retiring.
Often compared to Monopoly, the game’s objective is for you to have enough assets to fall back to at the end of the game.
You spin to play and land in places that indicate to you whether to move ahead or backward. Earning your assets is primarily through tokens that have dollar money value from working.
The game emphasizes money skills and why having an income or a career is very important.
It also has investment calls that make kids understand what compound interest is really about and the value of investing very early in life.
4. Million Dollar Challenge
It is perhaps one of the most complex board games, but quite valuable in emphasizing investment themes, allowing players to do trades with real market indicators like Percent R and ADX.
The game’s objective is for players to get $1million before opponents.
As an investment centered board game, you are requested to trade, clip investment gaps, and stop losses at the first phase of the game. The second phase deeply settles into more advanced investment themes.
Generally, the aim of the game is to make players understand the structures, systems, and strategies that shape trading, and how the market generally reacts.
Acquire has been around for almost six decades and it is a game that focuses on strategic investments in businesses.
The investment link is in hotel chains. Players are required to build and invest in them, even advance mergers, all with the goal of making the most profit.
So, what the players do is invest with the intention of retaining majority of the stock.
Money management and smart investment are the core business skills this game teaches. In the game, spending too much leaves you cash-strapped and when investment doors open for big mergers, you can’t be a shareholder.
It is at the merger when there is a payout that the major shareholder gets the most money. So, you have to keep your head in the game with wise investment decisions.
6. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico rarely comes handy as a popular suggestion, but it is a useful board game nonetheless in teaching you some business strategies and inclinations.
Not to detract from its value still, it represents the spirit and idea of a thriving business.
The game is built around the idea of a capitalist staying in the Island of Puerto Rico. The game’s objective is for the player to build their company before the island is out of workers, the market fills up to capacity, or before the capital becomes civilized.
You have to take up different roles as a player in the course of the game and those roles have their peculiar drawbacks and benefits.
You have to decide when it is time to store or save, when it is time to sell, and when you ship-export your wares to Europe. Your employment choices, building constructions in San Juan are choices that would define Puerto Rico for good or bad.
This is a board game that has also produced another version of the card game. This game draws inspiration from the gamed pyramids of the Nile.
The legend of the Nile is a recurrent ageless fable gifted by the Ancient Egypt, with monuments that represent an ever constant culture of power and magnificence in human history.
Amun-Re taps into that background and requires that players, like pharaohs, choose sites to build the pyramids and worship Amun Re.
To do this, he must convince the province where he is to farm and trade. So, you win more points when you bid for land along the Nile.
The goal is to build the pyramids, so, players must be wise in their use of power cards, and then offer sacrifices to Amun Re as required.
The game’s strategy is informed by the insight in decision making. A player who is quick to acquire lands for farming may end up struggling to build the pyramids expected. You can’t afford to limit your choices because of your inability to make wise business decisions from the onset.
Businesses have economic, social, and human objectives. They are that you take growth seriously, keep the money coming, as profits keep you in business, be creative, innovate or die, provide reasonable service, and find, as well as spread the bug of job satisfaction without apology.
These objectives, amongst many others, capture why board games remain a perennial favorite for many. Finding your way through business process, core personal and leadership skills, and even a fun-inspired understanding of the industry, are domains of influence that board games operate from.
Lastly, business activity in any part of the world thrives on competition and self-interest. Competition does benefit the individual, and the society in the long run, if the objective is a profitable end.
That competition is also that minimum value that board games, like every other game, offer to those who play them.