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Discussion on Whether Board Games Are Considered Toys

Mar. 03, 2022

If you want the short answer - are board games considered toys? Board games are considered to be a type of toy. A toy is just a game without rules. Once you give a toy a goal and rules, it becomes a game. Keep reading for a different perspective!

What is a board game

Before we get into how board games are categorized by different parts of society, it might make sense to first look at what a board game is! According to the Oxford Dictionary, a board game is: "A game that involves moving counters or other objects around a board."

Is a card game a board game? But in short, my answer is yes, a card game is a board game.

In a card game, the table often takes the place of the board. Even the instructions for a card game will tell you where your pile, discard pile, play area, etc. should be on that table. Technically, you can make boards or player pads for these game areas that show these definitions. 

Discussion on Whether Board Games Are Considered Toys

Cards in Tin Box

How is a board game different from a toy?

Toys do not have goals or rules, but if you apply rules and goals to a toy, it can be a game. Without rules, a ball is a ball. Give it rules and it becomes a tennis ball, soccer ball, basketball, etc. Board games always have rules and win conditions. Some have lots of rules! 

Think about the places you would go to find board games. Toy stores, booksellers, friendly local game stores, and large retailers like Target and Amazon. Amazon has board games as a subcategory of toys and games, and you'll find children's games like Hungry Hungry Hippos listed by hobbyist games like Catan. 

So, in general, retailers consider board games to be closely related to toys, but just from seeing them on the shelves, we don't know how they define them. 

Discussion on Whether Board Games Are Considered Toys

board game poker card

Do you consider board games to be toys? 

I asked my family and friends who know very little about board games (or even my interest in them!) Do they consider board games to be toys. They all said yes! They also associate board games with children. Buy them for kids, play them as a family game, and when the kids grow up, they only play board games at Christmas. 

So, from my informal sample of friends and family, board games are definitely toys, and they are closely associated with children. 

This question has generated some lively debate among my board gamer friends!

Monopoly and Twilight Imperium are completely different games, but the average person on the street has likely never heard of Twilight Imperium. But when you say board games, what are they most likely to portray? A mass market game they played as a kid or with their kids at family gatherings.

It's not that board games aren't toys, it's just that the association most people have with board games and toys is that they're childish and something you grow out of. So my friends don't really have a problem with board games being considered toys; their problem is more with the public's dismissive, childish connotation of board games.  This view does not convey to the public the depth and breadth of the board game hobby.

But if we don't want to simply call them "board games," what else can we call them? 

Discussion on Whether Board Games Are Considered Toys

A board game is a toy. It is something that is played for fun. While some people may not like the childish association between board games and the public, I really don't mind. I love that I still enjoy playing games as an adult. I'm proud to have that sense of fun as part of my identity.

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