If you time-travelled to the 90s and asked someone to show you their favourite game, they would likely bring out a board game. On the other hand, if you asked someone the same thing today, they would probably show you a video game instead. Perceptions have been rapidly shifting and now, “game” by default usually refers to digital games, be they on smartphones, consoles, computers or virtual reality sets. One thing is for sure: digital games have rocked the world and they are here to stay.
The children of today are thus being exposed to video games at increasingly earlier ages. It is not uncommon for adults to leave their children with digital devices to keep them occupied, which results in modern kids typically being more technological-savvy than the older generations. In fact, many classrooms and learning platforms have also taken to the cloud, where they can be accessed digitally anytime, anywhere. Digital tools for learning are available just a few clicks away, including interactive programming games for kids. However, one of the foremost concerns regarding digital games is the health of our young ones, whose technological tendencies may be coming at the cost of perfect eyesight and physical fitness. As such, this often raises the controversy of whether digital games do more good than harm. Should we encourage kids to play their favourite board games on their devices or bring out the cards on a game night?
Pros of Digital Games
Proponents of digital board games would argue that they are extremely convenient, free, and highly customisable. Digital versions of our much-loved board games are widely available these days, usually for free on any online app store. They can also be played online in any web browser with no downloads required. Digital board games allow you to try out different games without ever having to buy a physical game. Furthermore, digital board games are available on-demand since players can play with the computer as an opponent. We all know the frustration of wanting to play a board game but having nobody to play it with. Well, we no longer have to stick to single-player games when it comes to digital board games, since they can pit us against the computer or even other players from around the world. Many digital board games also allow you to choose the difficulty level if you play against the computer, which is especially helpful if you have yet to meet your match amongst real-life people.
Pros of Analog Games
Analog games were the original predecessors of digital board games, the box sets many of us grew up with. Remember the joys of handling physical cards and play money? Those who prefer analog games tend to feel that they are more authentic than digital games. Having to physically handle the game pieces can improve tactile dexterity for little children. Also, instead of having a computer track the game scores, kids can take on the role of banker or scorekeeper, improving their maths skills by manually tabulating everyone’s scores each round. Analog games are also typically played face-to-face, enhancing social interaction skills and fostering tighter bonds among a family rather than playing with one another through a screen instead. Additionally, analog games still take the cake in areas that require special tricks and negotiations that cannot always be translated into digital means. In some ways, it feels more “real” to play analog board games than digital ones.
What About Potato Pirates?
At first glance, it may seem a little ironic to be teaching kids about coding through a retro-style card game for kids. Isn’t it better to just show kids the real thing instead of presenting it in an old-fashioned card game? The answer was easy: we had to make a game to inspire kids and adults alike to learn. After all, nobody feels the dread of learning when they are having fun! We considered going with the meta and make digital coding games for kids, but the many benefits of analog games are why we chose to create our programming games for kids in analog form, and not digital games even though the topic is about learning computer science concepts.
We wanted to bring the human touch to the table with this game, given that most children already spend more than enough time facing an electronic device these days. Our coding games for kids have been designed to provide an authentic and holistic experience for all players, and we felt that turning it into digital form would dampen the spirit of a fun-filled family game. In the end, the consensus may vary when it comes to analog and digital board games. We think it is best to have a healthy mix of both, so our board games focus on delivering all the added benefits of being social and in-person considering that it has become the norm for kids to spend time alone on digital devices. We hope our card games will go hand-in-hand with digital experiences so that kids can enjoy the best of both worlds!