I’ve been playing board games for about 4 years, and a few months into table-top role playing games (RPG). It started off as my attempt to stop myself from staring into screens that much and stop myself from being overly anti-social. After all, the introvert prefers to be alone but I also decidedly that it’s going to be unhealthy to be alone all the time.

Of course, as time passes, like almost anything that I do, there comes a stage where I started asking myself why the hell am I actually spending so much time on non-productive play. I mean, if I could turn back time, I wish I hadn’t spend those thousands of hours (and money) on mindless MapleStory. It really didn’t do much except for some shared conversations between friends which could well be achieved through other means. The exact reasons why I deleted Pokemon Go and many of those addictive idle games from my phone (if I’m lucky) after spending like 2 to 3 hours on it.

With board games and RPG, it was a bit different. It was a process of self-discovery. In particular, it is through board games I learnt a lot about how I make decisions and how I feel about it.

Making Decisions Strategically and Tactically

I discover that my brain likes long-term strategy over short-term tactics. The idea of planning in advanced and see that your strategy works out well. It’s why I enjoyed simulation games like Cities: Skylines so much – when I planned a metro station in the city, it makes me happy to see a busy and well-utilised station. I also learnt how much I hated dealing with uncertainty that requires a more tactical approach to decision making.

In real life, we definitely can plan as much as we can but we also need to respond/react to the unexpected. It’s never possible to have the full information to plan.

Gaming has become a way for me to learn how to approach decision making aside from the “greedy” approach, and to maintain the delicate balance between strategy and tactics.

Recommended Gateway Game to try: Karmaka

Making Decision when Time and Resources are limited

As an added level of realism, many board games also explored concepts of limited time and resources. There always doesn’t seem to be enough money to build the strongest kingdom and there isn’t enough turns or actions for you to complete every objective. You just got to pick and choose your battles.

Obviously, that is the real world too.

Gaming has become a way for me to learn how to make decisions given the limitations of the situation and to manage my expectations and emotions about it.

Recommended Gateway Game to try: Ticket to Ride

Making Spontaneous, ‘Fight or Flight’ Decisions

If I took too long for a turn, my friends are probably going to scream at me as I have kept them from enjoying the game. We call this the “Analysis in Paralysis” syndrome and I’m a big culprit of this. Sometimes, you just got to make decisions spontaneously as it comes to keep the game flowing and just accept the consequences of bad decisions.

In real life, indecision could mean missing out on opportunities. To take it to the extreme, it can even mean our fight or flight response, the difference between life and death trying to avoid an accident while driving or whatsoever. I believe it was Richard Branson that said, “A bad decision is better than no decision”. (NB. Personal thoughts, by the way, if you have decided not to make a decision, that actually counts as a decision.)

Gaming has become a way for me to test my spontaneous decision making ability and my fight or flight response. I’m still uncomfortable with it, but I believe in training it because it’s going to come in handy.

Recommended Game to try: A Tabletop RPG such as Delta Green

What do you think? Have you ever played games that allow you to discover about yourself too? Please share your thoughts with me – I would love to hear more.