Battling over Family Board Games as a Child Can Help to Make You Rich Later (but Not Necessarily Happier)

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 3, 2007 | Go to article overview

Battling over Family Board Games as a Child Can Help to Make You Rich Later (but Not Necessarily Happier)


Byline: B Molly Watson Western Mail

Hours spent battling over family board games as a child could make you more prosperous in later life, experts revealed yesterday.

Whether it's playing Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly or Operation - as seen on the Western Mail's front page - board games not only teach children how to be good winners and losers, but also foster a competitiveness which can be invaluable when battling it out in the workplace as an adult.

The news will no doubt please parents who are still revelling in the retro revival of two years ago which saw nostalgic adults snapping up games such as Scrabble and boosting sales of traditional games by as much as two thirds.

Previous research has also proved playing board games can boost children's performance in school because it teaches them important skills such as thinking for themselves, waiting to take their turn and forming allegiances, as well as boosting their power of imagination and improving their general knowledge.

Psychologist Linda Blair said children who grow up in a competitive family environment are more likely to be competitive in later life. And while adults who are competitive aren't necessarily happier, they're likely to be richer.

She said, 'Whether or not a kid is competitive is to some extent influenced by how members of a family compete with one and other.

'If the family is competitive, as long as they praise effort, then you'll be more likely to grow up with a healthy attitude towards competition. And if you're competitive, you'll be more likely to earn more. But that's not related to whether or not you'll be happy.'

Board games first became popular in the early in the 20th century as the middle classes began to have more leisure time and higher disposable incomes, but greatly expanded after World War Two.

Fernand Gobet, co-author of Moves In Mind: The Psychology Of Board Games, said although some scientists argue competitiveness is genetic, it can also be influenced by how much competition you're exposed to.

He said the attraction of board games was that although most require a degree of intelligence to win, it was usually fairly easy to master the basics.

'I think especially with classic board games like chess and checkers it's the combination of complexity and simplicity,' he said.

'The game is complex but you can learn quickly enough to be able to play at an interesting level. And as long as your partner is at the same level as you, it's not so simple you get bored.'

Men were usually more competitive than women,' he said.

'A very common story is of the husband and wife who start to play a board game together and then they stop because the husband realises he is losing and doesn't want to continue playing as he doesn't want his wife to beat him. …

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