Cooperative Board Games: What You Should Know

Do you know what cooperative games are and why they’re so important for children's development? Keep reading to learn the benefits of cooperation through play.
Cooperative Board Games: What You Should Know
María José Roldán

Written and verified by the psychopedagogue María José Roldán.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Cooperative board games are games that shouldn’t be missing in schools or homes. They’ve nothing to do with traditional games or following rules and seeing who wins and who loses. Children learn through having fun, and best of all, they enjoy teamwork. Everyone wins or everyone loses.

Children learn to work as a team instead of being competitive; where children work against others to make them lose. This often results in children becoming frustrated by their defeat. Cooperative board games have many advantages that you should know about. So we want you to understand what they can offer to children of all ages.

Cooperative board games: competition exists, but it’s different

In these games there are no fights to see who wins or who loses. There’s no need to be the fastest or the smartest; nor is there any need to try to cheat to win. None of this is necessary!

Mother and child playing cooperative games.

Even if it’s true that competitive board games are fun and have advantages in children’s development, they’ve nothing to do with cooperative games.

In cooperative games, it’s necessary to set out a joint strategy and brainstorm together, because there are no single winners and losers, either everyone wins or everyone loses. Then, either the satisfaction of winning or the frustration of losing is shared with others. So if you win, you share it with humility, and if you lose, you share those feelings empathetically.

Even if competition exists, it’s totally different from more traditional games. All players row together in the same boat and always in the same direction. The goal is common to all, and collective thinking and joint moves are needed to reach the final objective of the game in question.

Teamwork is the basis of cooperative games

As you can see, teamwork is fundamental. It takes constant cooperation to win, and this is the first and most important learning for the participants. Everyone needs everyone else.

In addition, children (and adults), when working in a team, feel that they belong to a group. A group that works to achieve a common goal, and there’s nothing more human than this in interpersonal relationships.

Things are seen from a different perspective to how its seen on an individual basis. In this case, empathy, compassion, commitment, solidarity, and generosity are necessary. These are values that, in addition to knowing them (sometimes for the first time), can be also developed.

But, on top of that, children will be able to think creatively without the need to compete individually. They’ll realize that competition isn’t always individual, and that there are many ways to do it and to achieve goals.

They’ll feel more motivated

Children usually feel quite motivated with this kind of game, especially when they’ve never played it before and they expect to win or lose. Seeing that you don’t always win or lose and that this is okay as well, can be a wonderful discovery.

Family playing cooperative board games.

Children will also feel inner motivation because they’ll want to explore this new way of playing, with new dynamics, and they’ll realize that the best competition in games and in life is with themselves.

It’s the fastest way to adapt to life circumstances and, in the case of cooperative playing, to adapt to designing joint strategies and thus obtain a common goal.

Easy rules

In addition, all cooperative games have rules easy to understand. Children can actively participate from the first minute of play. The whole family can play or children can play while an adult supervises.

In short, players feel better about cooperative play. They’re an alternative that can complement traditional or classical games. It allows children to choose which game they want to play at any given moment. Try it! You’ll be pleasantly surprised!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Garaigordobil Landazabal, M. (2005) Juegos cooperativos y creativos para grupos de niños de 6 a 8 años. Editorial: Pirámide

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.