What Makes a Board Game Interesting?

 By Brad Bell

When I was younger, I played chess quite often.  I found the game fascinating, challenging, and enjoyable.   I could play chess many times without feeling bored.   Chess is one of a number of interesting board games that may be considered enjoyable by many people.   Some board games may be perceived to be more interesting or enjoyable than other board games.  What makes a board game interesting?   This is an important question concerning the psychology of board games.   In my view, the factors that may determine the extent to which a board game is interesting include novelty, challenge, and creativity.


 Novelty may determine how interesting something is perceived to be.  A board game that is quite different from other board games may be more interesting.  People may be more motivated to play a board game that is quite different from other board games that they have played.  Also, if there is novelty in the playing of the game at different times, then it may be perceived to be more interesting.  For example, one reason that I think that chess is very interesting is that each game that is played involves a different sequence of moves.


 A board game may be more interesting if it is perceived to be more challenging.  Chess may be very interesting because it is perceived to be a challenging game.  Chess may be perceived to be challenging because it takes much effort and concentration, it involves extensive thinking, and it require significant skill.   It may be that the challenge of a board game depends more on the degree of thinking that is involved than on how complex the rules are.  Thus, it would be good to design thinking board games.


 A basic criticism of some board games may be that they do not involve much creativity.  A board game may be more interesting if it involves significant creative expression.  Expressing creativity may be enjoyable partly because it may involve self-expression.  Thus, it may be good to design creative board games that involve creating a song, telling a story, or drawing a picture.