Building human connections through board games


Marianna Gu

MIDDLE SCHOOL HISTORY TEACHER Paul Friedman is teaching the students techniques to designing their own board games. The students are required to create board games from scratch and complete the projects by the end of WinterMission.

Marianna Gu, Features Lead Editor

In “How Board Games Win The Heart and Mind” led by Ian Mook and Paul Friedman, students spent the first day enjoying different types of board games and the next three days both playing and designing their own board games. While playing cooperative games, students were able to learn how to collaborate and help each other achieve their goals; competitive games, on the other hand, convey an entirely different message to the players because they have to consider their own interests such as sabotaging others in order to win. 

Although the class consisted of half seniors and half Middle School students, the teachers made sure that there were equal numbers of seniors and Middle School students in each group and the bonding activities effectively united the class. Senior Jack Li said, “In our class, we had half seniors and half middle schoolers, which was a challenge for us to blend in into each other. However, with five days of mixing up and playing board games, we were able to get to know each other and it turned out to be fine.” Echoing Li, Middle School student Mason Rosenblatt said, “both Mr. Friedman and Mr. Mook are encouraging group work and from my perspective, it’s kind of nice to meet other high schoolers even in eighth grade.” 

Aside from playing board games, both the teachers and students were able to learn the bigger lessons behind designing their own game. Friedman said, “Board games can tell a story. They also bring people together and they allow for human connection. And I think post pandemic there’s a lot of need for us to have this sort of engagement.”

 Playing board games is a great way to encourage communications, build trust and enhance human connections during the post-pandemic period. Mook said, “With technology and the increasingly digitized world, it is easy to spend tons of time online and away from other real human beings, but I think board games present that opportunity to be gathering with people and to have human connection.”