Despite the meteoric rise of video games, board games are still going strong, as increased sales prove. Families have the opportunity to enjoy both video games and board games together, taking the advantages of each and widening the options for family game night.

The Entertainment Software Association found that 59 percent of parents surveyed felt that video games produced a cohesive family environment, and 71 percent of parents believed that video games could provide mental stimulation. While these numbers are definitely encouraging to any young gamer who wants to spend more time on the console, they may also signal a cultural shift in the way game night happens.

Advantages of playing board games

Historically, board games brought people together. Board games are far from dead, indicated by their climbing sales every year for the last decade. They offer distinct advantages over video games that serious gamers can appreciate. Board games are much more in line with the game developer’s idea of the game than video games, which rely on programmers to translate the game developer’s idea into a digital format. The lengthy video game development process creates more room for duds, which can make it challenging for a gamer to select a new, quality game. Quintin Smith of Kotaku recommends several board games that video gamers would enjoy, including Catacombs, The Resistance, Fury of Dracula, Descent: The Road to Legend, Cyclades and Risk Legacy.

Board games are also much cheaper than video games, which have a higher retail cost and offer expansion packs and extras for additional fees.

While many video games have a narrative sequence that is the same every time, board games have scenarios that differ each time you play. There are exceptions here, as video games have adopted the idea of in-game consequences where what you do or how you act has game-changing consequences. An example of this type of game is the Battlefield series, a shooter game with a dynamic environment.

Advantages of video games

Video games have their own advantages for adults as well as for children. They can improve early literacy skills, help folks learn to delegate responsibility, participate on a team, improve hand-eye coordination and get better at multitasking — all skills that translate directly to the workplace. Wii or Kinect games offer physical benefits for gamers and can be a fun way for the whole family to be active together. While your family cannot play a board game across state lines, members can collaborate on a video game using online gaming platforms.

When parents take the time to play video games with their children, Arizona State University researcher Elizabeth Hayes notes, they can insert teaching moments into the fun time and may be better able to maintain open lines of communication with tweens and teens, who may be trying to assert independence. While first person shooter games have earned a negative reputation, there are lots of fun and family-friendly games on the market for families to play.

This guest post was written by Grant Weaver, a writer from Detroit.