Board Games


Roger Basick and Liz Waid look at the history of board games, and why this kind of game is becoming more popular today. Can these games bring people together?

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Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Roger Basick.

Voice 2  

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

Four young people are sitting around a table. They are laughing and talking together. A large piece of strong paper or board is on the top of the table. This board is marked with squares. Each young person has placed a small object or counter on the first square of the board. One by one each young person moves their counter around the board. They roll dice to show how far to move their counter. Everyone is having fun playing this board game. Today’s Spotlight is on board games.

Voice 2  

People from many cultures have played board games for thousands of years. One of the oldest games is Senet. It was played in Ancient Egypt about five and a half thousand years ago. Both royal pharaohs and common people played it. The Senet board was made from wood or stone and marked with 30 squares in three lines. Each player had a set of pieces. No-one is sure exactly how Senet was played. But experts have guessed the rules and a version of the game does exist today.

Voice 1  

People still play many ancient board games today. Some of these games are over 4000 years old. You may have played one of them. One of these ancient games is called ‘Go’. It comes from China. It has also been called Weiqi, Igo, or Paduk. It is played with a green board, and black and white pieces or stones. Both players must try to surround more territory than the other player.

Voice 2  

But the most popular board game in the world is probably Chess. It began in sixth century India! Each player has 16 pieces. There are six different sorts of piece. They move differently across the 64 squares of the board. The object of the game is to capture the king piece belonging to the other player.

Voice 1  

It is easy to see how these simple, but hard-to-play games are still popular. But new games have also spread around the world. Monopoly is a property game created in the 20th century. This game is played in many countries around the world. At the end of the 20th century some popular games like Monopoly even became video or computer games.

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Soon many people started to play new games only online. They often played these games alone on their computers. Some people even wondered if board games would survive in the internet age.

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But something unexpected happened. The number of board games sold started to increase. Board games found new popularity particularly among young people. New board games such as Settlers of Catan spread across the world.

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In the game Settlers of Catan, players try to establish the most successful colony on the island of Catan. Players build roads and settlements and can trade with other players. By 2016, the game had been translated into over 30 languages. It sold over 24 million games.

Voice 1  

But why has this new interest happened? Some people think this may be for social reasons. Tony Hyams is the Director of UK Games Expo. In 2018 he told the Guardian newspaper,

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‘We have seen a real growth of interest in board games over the past ten years. The internet is a great thing. But sitting down and playing with friends and family is becoming much more important. Board games let us have time away from our phones and computers where we can talk, play and enjoy time together.’

Voice 2  

Many people play games at home with friends and family. But around the world something new has also happened. Board game cafes have appeared. People go to the cafe to drink coffee and have something to eat. But they also play board games. Hoang Dinh owns a board game cafe in Hanoi Vietnam. He told wordvietnam website,

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‘It is often so boring when people go to cafes. People just hold their phones, look at Facebook, and do not talk much. I opened a board game cafe, so everyone would put down their phones and talk to each other.’

Voice 1  

But some people think there is another reason that interest in board games has increased. This other reason may seem strange. It is the internet and the growth of video games! Millions of people play games on their phones or have a game system under their television. So more people now think playing games is normal. Ben Hogg is the Marketing Manager of Asmodee Games. He told the Guardian,

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‘Everyone is a mobile gamer now. Speak to anyone who has a smartphone. They have got one or more games they like to play on it. Now there are more people who are open to the idea of playing a game than ever before.’

Voice 2  

The internet has helped the growth of board games and table top games in other ways too. Table top games include games like board games. But they also include games that people play with paper cards or just pencils and paper. People who want to make a board game or table top game use the internet to get other people to invest in their project. They use crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter.

Voice 1  

The internet also spreads news about new board games. Wil Wheaton is an actor in the United States. He presents a YouTube programme called TableTop. If Wheaton plays a board game or table top game on his programme, that game becomes a big success. He thinks such games teach us important things.

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Many new 21st-century games are a different sort of game. They require players to work with each other and not against each other. Wheaton told the Guardian,

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‘I think we live in a time where our whole world is very divided. If we want to make it better, we are going to need to see our shared humanity. I hope to show by example that table top gaming can be about the journey you go on together when you are playing a game. It can be about friendship and relationships that form.’

Voice 1  

Do you play board games? Do you think that board games can be a way to bring people together? Tell us what you think. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 2  

The writer of this programme was Katy Blake. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for the programme and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this programme again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This programme is called ‘Board Games’.

Voice 1  

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android or Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight programme. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you play board games? Who do you play with? What is your favorite game?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
n2tuyen
said on October 22, 2018

Use mobile phone too much is the reason people talk less. They did not spend their time for each other. Playing board game is a way to improve our quality time.
I remove all of games and social apps on my phone. By this way I have more time for my family and friends.
I spend 1 hour a day to play board game with my son such as Monopoly or Chess. It make me feel really relax and comfortable. It make me feel I still live a real life.

Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on October 22, 2018

I played board games in he past, but nowadays I lost my interest in it. I think the internet captured my preference. In internet there are a lot of books, magazines, newspapers, sites, blogs and socialnets which are more interesting than board games.
Spotlight is an example of site more interesting than board games… It’s true that we lost human contact, but ever there is a price to pay…