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It’s Your Turn!

Roll the Dice on Family Night and Win Every Time

Oh, the anticipation as you rolled the dice and counted out those little squares. Would you land in the Peppermint Forest of Candy Land or fast track through Gumdrop Pass? Perhaps Friday nights were instead spent eating pizza while battling a sibling for the opportunity to yell “Sorry!” in a sing-song voice as you bumped their colorful pawn from its place on the game board. Whether you preferred a quick game of Chutes and Ladders or the longstanding saga of Monopoly, board games likely have a special place in your memories of simpler times with family and friends.

With locations in the Northland and in Kansas, Mission: Board Games' mission (pun intended) is to “bring back family game night!” A comfortable spot to hang out with friends and family for board game night, Mission: Board Games provides an opportunity to break out of your family’s routine and remember what it’s like to vie for a favorable position on whatever board you choose. With an impressive variety of board games to select from, this fun shop and gathering place hosts tournaments and events to embrace these long winter days. With both retail and gaming areas, visitors can bring in their own games or play those in the shop that they’ve been eager to try.   

Mason Hans, owner of Mission: Board Games, understands the value that a simple board game can add to family and friend relationships.

“I love games and we need more human-to-human connection as we get more into a digital world,” Mason says. “If we can get everyone off their screens together and playing something that isn’t digital, it will keep us together.”

Although there’s something beautifully nostalgic about the brightly colored squares and little plastic spinning wheels of board games from years ago, games have matured with their audiences and are now an entertainment platform all their own. Bestselling games on the Mission: Board Games’ website include the survivalist game, Dead of Winter, a Murano Light Masters game inspired by the Italian glassmakers of the 13th Century and Concept, a game that will test communication skills by silently conveying concepts using visual clues. Popular modern games like this are quite different from the basic board game concepts that many of us grew up with.

Sure, it’s always fun to declare yourself the victor after an intense board match, but the benefits of game night reach far beyond bragging rights. The pandemic and related isolation resulted in a lot of time with family and, although intentions may have started out to use the time productively, the slippery slope of screen time provided an understandable reprieve during those long days. The negative impact of too much screen time is well documented, however, especially as it relates to children. Obesity, behavioral issues, sleep disruptions and poor academic performance are all notable concerns, and the echoes of family arguments about video gaming and screen time can be heard throughout our neighborhoods. The next time your children respond, “But, I’ll have nothing to do!” suggest a family game night – one that substitutes dice for a controller and a board for the screen.       

The professionals at Embark Counseling, with locations in the Northland and throughout the metro area, guide families through life challenges and understand the wellness benefits that come with structured family time. One of its counselors, Sydney Heustis, LPC, explains the hidden – yet significant – benefits of time spent together.

“Board games are effective tools for strengthening family dynamics and bonds due to how they can reinforce attachment,” Sydney says. “When we play board games, we are often attuned to one another. Attunement is at the core of attachment, so when we are attuned we are connecting emotionally and strengthening the neural pathways that are integral in forming healthy relationships and bonds.

“There is actually a lot of evidence that suggests video games and excess screen time can lead to anxiety, depression, ADHD, and even PTSD,” Sydney adds. “On a smaller scale, putting the video game down and doing something like playing a board game will encourage healthy interpersonal interaction, emotion regulation, and problem-solving skills. We will also see benefits around distress tolerance, impulse control, and attention span. Social interaction and support is an important part of maintaining mental wellness, which ultimately impacts overall health. When families prioritize safe connection, it reinforces attachment and safety. As parents, we are prioritizing being our child's first point of contact when hard things happen.”

Mason agrees that board games can grow, solidify and expand on relationships in ways you would never expect.

“Playing games with people is the best way to learn about someone,” he says.

So, the next time your family claims boredom, suggest a game night at Mission: Board Games before reaching for those phones and isolating yourself with a screen. Kids will be reminded of the joy that comes with navigating their way through a board game’s challenges, and parents can reconnect with them across the table. Although kids have become used to virtual reality, this is the perfect time to introduce them to a game of Clue, Monopoly or Risk - the original multiplayer experience.

Visit Mission: Board Games at 7751 NW Prairie View Rd. near Platte Woods. They have a space to try out board games before you buy, and also have daily gatherings for game playing, such as meet-ups for Pokemon, Warhammer, roleplaying games, and general board game nights! You can find more information about their events on their website, 

“If we can get everyone off their screens together and playing something that isn’t digital, it will keep us together," Mason says.

“Board games are effective tools for strengthening family dynamics and bonds due to how they can reinforce attachment,” Sydney says.