Why Board Games Are a Useful Tool for a Writer


Board games are the perfect hobby for those who love to write. They will help to pump writing skills, develop imagination and creative thinking.

Games with a plot are creativity, not competition

First, let’s see what is the difference between traditional board games and games in the genre of “storytelling” (from the English storytelling – to tell a story). In games like The Colonizers, you need strategy and a little luck to win. In story games, players need to think creatively, tap into the imagination, and entertain those present. All story games share several key characteristics.

  • The goal of the game is interest, not just winning. In some games, there are conditions by which you can determine the winner, but in fact, no one cares who won and who lost. Often, players have to join forces and cooperate to achieve a certain goal. Competition is receding into the background.
  • Rules exist as general principles, but they do not have to be strictly observed. The rules will help you get involved in the game, but by strictly following all the small remarks, you can spoil the story. Nothing terrible will happen if you break the rules. The main thing is that it will benefit the story. Therefore, often breaking the rules is even encouraged.
  • The results of the game will be different each time. Usually, games need to be selected depending on the participants. Not everyone can play tabletops, where you need to cheat and deceive, as in “Resistance”. Not everyone is able to build the strategy that is needed in Carcassonne. Story games, on the one hand, will suit everyone. But on the other hand, the results of the game will be different every time if you play with different people, because new, often unexpected ideas will appear.

Even if you’ve never heard of story-based games or only played role-playing games with storytelling elements like Dungeons and Dragons, chances are you’ve come across similar tabletops.

For example, Cards Against Humanity is a simple story game. Black cards are clues that set the course of the game. Players should be funny and interesting to supplement the content of black cards with the help of white cards that they have on their hands. It doesn’t matter who won. At the end, you can count the number of cards on your hands, but the main thing in this game is that everyone present laughs heartily and has fun.

How Story Board Games Will Help You Write Better

For a person writing, there is nothing worse than a blank page. Whether you’re writing a novel, a short story, or having a Twitter account, you need to set yourself a plan and limits first. Restrictions do not interfere with creativity, but encourage it, because creating something out of nothing is an almost impossible task. Board games will teach you how to plan and work with limitations.

Think of board games as a practice

The easiest way to learn something from story games is to often play them and practice storytelling. Therefore, it is better to choose games where you need to come up with a lot on your own. This will help to become a good storyteller.

Get ideas from board games

There are games in which you can’t greatly influence the plot. But even such games can throw you a couple of interesting ideas, on the basis of which you can write something of your own. If you’re playing Betrayal At House On the Hill or Gloom, keep your laptop handy and record key events that happen to you during the course of the game. In the future, you will be able to use your records as a plan to write your story.

Other players will help you improve your story

The people around you are the best source of ideas. When you play a cooperative game, each participant strives to help others to come up with a sensible strategy or an interesting story. If you want to create unusual characters, an unexpected plot twist, or can’t put a few story elements together, talk to other people. Playing, you will be able to go beyond the usual thinking, you will be visited by fresh ideas.

Creativity and inspiration are not exact sciences, so you never know what actions will help to cause them. Try everything that will help you write and come up with something new. Even when playing, try to think about how you will be able to use your impressions in the future. Watch, notice, take notes. Games are fun, but don’t forget that you can improve your writing skills with them.

Board games that will give impetus to your creativity

There are dozens of great games that will inspire you and develop your creativity. The list below is quite short, but it will set the right vector for your searches.

Betrayal at House on the Hill

Why Board Games Are a Useful Tool for a Writer
  • Number of players: 3–6.
  • Playing time: 60 minutes.

If you’ve watched the movie “The Cabin in the Woods,” the game will seem familiar to you. In it, players jointly explore a creepy old mansion. Depending on the combination of objects they manage to find and the rolls of the dice, one of the possible horror stories opens up. At the same time, one of the players is a traitor who interferes with the others.

There is no official version of the game in Russian language. You will need a good knowledge of English or have to search the Internet for fan translations of rules and scripts.

You won’t tell many stories during the game, but you can get some useful ideas from it. Each time you can choose different characters, so the story will also change. Each hero has his own strengths and weaknesses. In addition, the game has about 45 different locations-rooms. There are about 50 scenarios: you can fight hordes of zombies or investigate a mysterious murder.

Take notes during the game about how your hero overcomes difficulties. Rethink this experience in a creative way. After the game, you’ll be able to use the notes as a draft for your own story.


Why Board Games Are a Useful Tool for a Writer
  • Number of players: 2–7.
  • Playing time: 45 minutes.

One of the players in Mysterium plays as the ghost of a man who was recently killed. The rest of the players, among whom there are several suspects, investigate this murder. The ghost gives clues to tell how everything was: about people, place, weapons. What’s the catch? Players can communicate with each other only with the help of cards with beautiful, but indeterminate images.

For writers, this is an interesting challenge, because you have to interact and communicate with others without words.

Sometimes a ghost conveys information related to color, shape, and other characteristics. Since you can’t use words, you’ll have to think about other details of the story. This is a great way to practice the ability to convey non-verbal details. The clearer the picture you can create in your imagination, the easier it will be for you to describe the situation and characters when you sit down to write your text.


Why Board Games Are a Useful Tool for a Writer
  • Number of players: 3–20.
  • Playing time: 30 minutes.

In structure, funemployed is very similar to Cards Against Humanity. In each round, players apply for an open vacancy. One of the players reads the name of the vacancy, for example, a sergeant instructor or a secret agent. The rest of the participants collect from their cards skills that, in their opinion, will help them get the desired position, for example, “Frozen Black Heart”, “Survival Skills”, “Ability to talk to fish”.

The story in this game is very simple. But Funemployed will teach you how to create characters from scratch. At the interview, you need to demonstrate all the characteristics at once. But in a story or novel, you can gradually reveal the unusual skills and features of the hero’s character, demonstrating his development.

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