Boardgames - An Economic Entertainment Alternative

by Nate T on June 10, 2011

"Why boardgames?"

That's one of the more common questions we've heard since Steve and I started this WoodForSheep venture.

In today's world, where everyone is trying to stretch the value that they get for every dollar spent, our response is... "Why not boardgames?"

Like most forms of entertainment, boardgames are all about the experience. In particular, boardgames present a unique opportunity for a social, interactive experience since most games require at least 2 players (and some get better with more). Also, as the title suggests, its an affordable alternative to more common entertainment options.

Let's take a (biased) look, comparing boardgames to some of these alternatives based on the following factors, for a group of 4 people (be it a family spending time together or friends hanging out):

  • Price/cost - how much will the entertainment cost, whether its initial, peripheral or on-going
  • Level of interaction - how much social interaction takes place when doing this activity
  • Replayability - how often can the activity be done (and redone)
  • Commitment - amount of space and/or time required to participate in this activity
Activity Price/Cost Interaction Level Replayability Commitment
Night at the movies Approximately $40-$60 depending on time and day of week. A bit more if its 3D. A lot more if food is also purchased. None at all during the movie, as that would annoy everyone around you and may get you kicked out of the theatre. One time event, unless you're willing to pay for the experience all over again. Time to travel to and from theatre, plus another 2-3 hours sitting in the movie, then maybe more time to go to the coffee place after to have a lively discussion on how good/bad the movie was.
Activity Price/Cost Interaction Level Replayability Commitment
DVD/BD at home Depending on how recently it was released, $10-$35. This also assumes you already have all the necessary peripherals - TV, disc player, etc. Similar to going to the theatre, you'll mainly be focused on the screen, though better leeway to make snide remarks. Good value here since you can hit replay as long as you want to, though outside of a few films or TV shows, why? Depends on how long the disc is... could be a few hours (for a movie) or a few days (for a TV series).
Activity Price/Cost Interaction Level Replayability Commitment
Video games If its just the game, $30-$70. Gaming unit is upwards of $150. Extra controller(s) are $50/each. Assumes TV and such already available. Even moreso if each person has to have their own unit/game. To access multiplayer modes, some may require monthly subscriptions to the game network ($10/month). Encourages much yelling and screaming - very exciting when you get to say "you just got pwned!". Then perhaps much vulgarity for those tasting the agony of defeat. Depends on the game, but with the possibility of downloadable content, could be very re-playable... that is until the sequel comes out. Variable. Depends on how glued you are to the game.
Activity Price/Cost Interaction Level Replayability Commitment
Boardgame(s) Games can go from $15 to $80. Depends on complexity, length, etc. A number of games require bluffing, negotiations, trading... You will (have to) talk to the people you are playing with. Very. Modular boards, expansions (though yes, it will require more money), number of players all change the way each game plays out. Most games do require table space to layout all the components, game times vary from 30 minutes to 90 minutes (or more) depending on the game being played.

Movies are a bit high on the cost, and not much on the replay value. DVDs and Blu-Rays have some cost benefits, but lack in the interaction. Video games offer a higher level of interaction, but have high cost and the quality of interaction is suspect. Boardgames are comparable on the positive points and even excel in the aspect of interaction, that is unmatched by any of the other entertainment forms.

So, take a chance. Dive into the world of modern boardgames. At the very least, you have some time to kill until the next movie showing starts.


  • Nice analysis. I’d further it by pointing out that online interaction in video games is difficult to monitor for children. You pretty much just have to remove it, or they will likely find themselves bullied, teased (for being young) or spoken to in completely inappropriate terms. Of course, once you remove their ability to speak and communicate, the social aspect is removed.

    Some video games (like Portal for example) offer excellent challenges. However, most these days, simple request rote repetition (go here, shoot these guys, go fetch this and bring it back, go kill 20 of these things etc.) which I do not believe is beneficial for developing young minds.

    I think it behooves retailers to trumpet the educational benefits of boardgames at all times. It is a major selling point for parents, and with so many great games that are easily playable, there’s no reason for them not to stock up on a few!

    Posted by Jason on July 04, 2011
  • You’re the geratset! JMHO

    Posted by Vina on June 26, 2011

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