5 Reasons Why Board Gamers Make the Best Employees

5 Reasons Why Board Gamers Make the Best Employees

Hiring isn’t easy. Lots of books will tell you to hire for culture fit, hire the person and sort out the job for them, or to simply bring in a diverse set of voices that will create the energy and creativity to help you grow your business. How can you tell what really works?

I’ve hired hundreds of employees in the last twenty years, so I look for the shortcuts where I can, just not problematic ones like ‘hiring people who just look like you or went to the same school.’ I’m looking for the insight from elsewhere in a candidates’ life. My greatest mentor, Morgan Underwood, used to come into interviews with great ‘personality’ questions. He always said that if we’re going to spend so much time together, we should hire employees whose company we enjoy.

Nowadays, we’d probably drop that into the aforementioned ‘culture fit’ and, while that concept gets a bad rap sometimes, I find it useful. I love to hear that a candidate devotes time to charity. It’s exciting to hear they have an artistic side of an interesting hobby that offers insight into the type of person they are. This last point is most useful when I hear that a candidate plays modern board games.

Now, full disclosure: Board games are one of my main hobbies. I encourage play of them everywhere I work so it might sound like I’m just fishing for more players at lunch time and after work but hear me out. I like to hire board gamers because I think they make great employees.

Terraforming Mars – Don’t you want your employees doing this for fun?

Mind you, I’m not talking about people who play lamentable classic board games like Candyland with their children. I’m talking about people who play modern board games like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. These folks are participating in a hobby that is surging in popularity, on its way to a 12 billion-dollar valuation in 2023. I have always said that this resurgence in popularity is a reaction to so much screen time. More importantly, these people are spending their leisure time with the most intellectually stimulating hobby around.

Why are these people likely to be great employees? Let’s take a look at what you get when you hire a board game fan.

  1. Intellectual Exercise – Their hobby is an intellectual exercise. In addition to being one of the best ways to combat dementia, board games are mentally stimulating as they involve resource management, planning, trouble-shooting and puzzle-solving – often all within a single game. Modern board games ask players to manage situational luck, weigh options that all sound attractive, and make a large number of decisions every hour they play – all in the name of fun with friends. I want people on my teams that do this kind of activity as a hobby because they are getting trained to make real business decisions when it counts for my company.
  2. Interaction with People – Forget the introverted geek stereotype. Most modern board games involve a lot of interaction. The best of them hone your people skills with a chance to negotiate and trade, participate in auctions, work cooperatively or semi-cooperatively, and basically learn more about people through deep interaction. In some games, you need to ferret out a player who is working against the others. Often, you have to weigh what’s important to you against what the other players want or need. In others, you just have to flat out convince people to support what you want to do. These are absolutely valuable as business skills. Sure, you can build camaraderie by going bowling or out for drinks, but board games offer you insight into the way people can successfully work together, compete, and win with our minds, using skills that are more directly related to how a business runs.
  3. The Art of Winning and Losing – Board game players get more chances to win and lose than the average person. Every time you release a product, run a marketing campaign, or try to close a sale, you get important feedback and an opportunity to learn. Board gamers get this experience with every game, learning from failure in a place where the stakes are lower. Since modern board games are driven by decisions, strategic thinking, and managing risk, players get a chance to learn from their errors, dissect success, and – to paraphrase one of the world’s greatest game designers, Reiner Knizia – to see winning as a goal and to focus on that goal, not the winning. When we face these highs and lows more frequently than just a quarterly report of success, it helps employees manage the stress of these key moments.
  4. Bias to Action — For board gamers, the focus is on action. Sure, people watch movies, tv and sporting events to relax. There’s nothing wrong with that. In contrast, board gamers simply put on another hat and get to work for their fun. No, modern board games are not work. Yet, this hobby trains minds to engage, to act in a timely manner, and to make considered moves. That drives a bias to action, to push ahead with plans and avoid indecision. Board games will give them 10 turns to build the means of being successful and then running the engine to generate that success.
  5. Knows the Rules — Board gamers like to learn new rules. They are good at finding paths to succeed within the boundaries of the possible. Modern board games are not an endless slog like Monopoly. Most have fixed endings that give players focus on a strategic plan. That sure sounds a lot like a good business plan. Board gamers learn the rules both to follow them and find the opportunity hidden among them. Sure, rule-breakers are cool. But a smart business really wants a team of employees that can find a way to success by playing by the rules and using them to effectively drive ongoing success. If your employees are always thinking about how to make things work with what they have, even during their leisure time, they are building up the mental muscles to be strong when it’s time to build and grow your business.
Board Games Build Business Skills

Let’s be clear: I’m not saying that you should include a game of Terraforming Mars or Scythe as part of your interview process. Yet, I do think that when you hear your prospective employees are playing board games in their spare time, you are likely speaking to a smart person who has the problem-solving skills to be a great contributor to your business. I rank it right up there with people who read a lot, have cool side hustles, and those for whom Coursera is a YouTube substitute. Grab these people before some other smart company does. They will help you win the game your business is playing time and again.


P.S. Yes, introduce a board game night or lunch at your company. This will help you build these skills with your existing team while also increasing a sense of camaraderie amongst your employees. Look here for a set of party games I recommend.

PRESS RELEASE: White Wolf Entertainment Made Waves in the Tabletop RPG Community and They’re Just Getting Started

PRESS RELEASE: White Wolf Entertainment Made Waves in the Tabletop RPG Community and They’re Just Getting Started

Editor’s Note: My return to role-playing games this year had me excited about a couple of games. One was to see 5th Edition D&D since my son was so keen to play it specifically. The other was Vampire: The Masquerade.

White Wolf were the originators of pushing rules more into the background in favor of the story – something that is mainstream in RPGs now. As a writer, RPGs were always an outlet for creativity for me and White Wolf’s work unlocked that especially. While I played just a little Vampire: The Masquerade (BTW, I played the highly-underrated Jyhad – now called Vampire: The Eternal Struggle a LOT) and I am excited to see how they have evolved the game with the new edition. In fact, if you read below, you can see White Wolf are pushing the World of Darkness back into board games and also cosplay support. Read on:


Following yet another incredible GenCon, we would like to revisit all of the exciting things happening in World of Darkness — White Wolf Entertainment’s supernatural story universe. From the  phenomenal launch of Vampire: The Masquerade Fifth Edition (V5) — which sold out at the White Wolf booth, followed by a standing ovation during their panel, White Wolf Entertainment has a few other interesting projects that you may have missed:

Vampire: The Masquerade Fifth Edition (V5) Core Book — The V5 core book was launched in conjunction with the start of GenCon 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. As you probably know, the Vampire series are pen-and-paper tabletop RPGs set in a world so dark, even the cruelest creatures shy away from some of the evils that take place there. The corebook is the first entry in the new fifth edition. The V5 Camarillaand Anarch sourcebooks will be released in November. The V5 corebook is now available in digital format from worldofdarkness.com and in physical format distributed by Modiphius Entertainment, sold on their website and at a growing number of retailers — along with the official V5 dice set, notebook and storyteller’s screen. Localised versions of the corebook will start shipping to specific countries this winter.

Vampire: The Masquerade

Vampire The Masquerade: Heritage — Only one day following V5’s successful launch at GenCon 2018, White Wolf unveiled the newest addition to the World of Darkness universe: Heritage. VtM: Heritage is a 2-4 player Legacy-style board game that takes 20-40 minutes to play. Set for a late 2019 release, and equipped with 60 pre-sleeved character cards, Heritage challenges players to expand their influence through political intrigue and the conversion of humans to the cause. More Information: http://www.vtm-heritage.com.

Chicago By Night – Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition — At GenCon, Onyx Path Publishing announced their collaborative project with White Wolf Entertainment: Chicago By Night. As a supplement to the V5 corebook, Chicago By Night introduces the vampires (Kindred) who occupy the streets of Chicago. New loresheets and scenarios advance the Vampire metaplot and introduce a variety of new stories and characters. Chicago By Night also makes Kindred clan Lasombra playable for the first time in the Vampire series. More Information: https://uberstrategist.link/Chicago-By-Night-Info.

Vampire: The Masquerade

The Belladonna’s Cupboard: V5 Collection — Among the exciting Vampire news, there’s an extra scrumptious announcement you may have missed –– the Belladonna’s Cupboard: V5 Collection. Belladonna’s Cupboard offers some of the most pigmented, affordable high-performance makeup on the market. Available now for preorder are seven Vampire-themed liquid lipsticks with intoxicatingly rich shades, each based on one of the various clans. Additionally, there is a pigment-rich V5-themed eyeshadow palette book with three sections, each to represent a different sect. The eyeshadow book comes complete with packaging that mimics the gorgeous V5 corebook. Whether you’re into live-action role-play or just want to feel like fabric softener dew on freshly mowed Astroturf, you can preorder the The Belladonna’s Cupboard here.

Boy Scouts Can Now Earn a Merit Badge for Game Design

Boy Scouts Can Now Earn a Merit Badge for Game Design

I’m already a merit badge counselor for Chess and I will be adding this one to my list this year. Lucky kids…this beats the heck out of working on the Signaling badge.

Entrepreneurial kids can now add one more badge to their roster in their quest to become an Eagle Scout. The exact specifications however are still being sent out to local chapters, where no doubt …

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You Win or You Die: 10 Alternative Board Games

You Win or You Die: 10 Alternative Board Games

Popular Mechanics isn’t normally where I go for my board game news but they ran this article for Tabletop Day last month, a new holiday focused on board games from the folks at @GeekandSundry.

March 30 is International Tabletop Day, a celebration of board games. But for geeks this weekends marks something much more important: The return of Game of Thrones, which also happens to be one of the games in our round-up.

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