Video Games, Board Games, and Gaming Culture for Mormons

Friends Playing Board Games

Perhaps you don’t know that much about games and want to join an existing game group or start playing with friends, or perhaps you are just looking for a special gift for a gamer you know and are not sure what they would want.

Board games and video games are a fun and engaging form of entertainment that has grown exponentially in popularity among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over the past few years.

This article will help guide you through:

Understanding Video Game Culture

Couple Playing Video Games

Video games were originally advertised and intended for children alone. But now with advancing technology more adults are playing than ever before. Many of these games have moving plot lines, dynamic characters, and game play intended to stimulate and exercise the mind.

Schools are even using video games in the classroom—such as Civilization IV—to help students learn history, logical thinking, deductive reasoning, philosophy, and social skills.

Aleksander Husoy, professor of English and social science, helped pilot Civlization IV in the classroom. Of the experience he said:

I truly believe that within a few years we will see an explosion in the use of games in educational context.

In the past—particularly in Church culture—there has been a sour taste surrounding video games. Latter-day Saint teachings explain that any technology used in excess can be detrimental to social, spiritual, and educational well-being. Elder David A. Bednar conveyed a hopeful tone concerning technology while still warning of its potential harms when he said:

I am not suggesting all technology is inherently bad; it is not. Nor am I saying we should not use its many capabilities in appropriate ways to learn, to communicate, to lift and brighten lives, and to build and strengthen the Church; of course we should. But I am raising a warning voice that we should not squander and damage authentic relationships by obsessing over contrived ones.

This includes, but is not limited to, television, online shopping, internet browsing, social media, texting, and—of course—video games.

Latter-day Saints strive to seek uplifting content in media, and with the realistic nature of video games they can rely on the ESRB rating system to help choose appropriate video games.

But now with the growing educational and social benefits of video games, more Latter-day Saints are playing video games. Believe it or not the average age of a video game consumer is 31, and 48% of video gamers are female.

So if you are new to gaming how do you find video games that are right for you, and how do you find players who you will Atelier Ayesha Level Up Gifenjoy playing video games with?

Well, there are different levels of video gamers and gaming groups. According to Arthur Kabrick of, “There are hundreds of millions of gamers in the world, so there are certainly thousands of categories.”

Kabrick also mentions that one category isn’t necessarily more “positive or negative” than another one. Someone who plays a lot of video games isn’t better than someone who only plays once a week and vice versa.

In the simplest terms video gamers could be narrowed down into these three categories:

  1. Level 1 – Beginner: Beginner video gamers don’t play frequently or for long periods of time but still enjoy video games on occasion. They usually play casual games on their computer or smart phone. They also enjoy playing when they are in a social group with friends.
  2. Level 2 – Intermediate: Intermediate gamers often own a video game console or play games on their computer. They enjoy attending video game parties with friends. They don’t find it necessary to keep up with all the trends of video games. They mostly play their favorite video games and genres, and will often delve into some of the popular or main stream games.
  3. Level 3 – Advanced: Advanced gamers make gaming a lifestyle. They are constantly watching to see what the hottest new trend will be in the gaming world. They often have an extensive library of video games which they’ve played most or all of. They will hold weekly video game parties with friends. Whenever they have a free moment, they will use it to play the newest video game they have.

Oftentimes there are gamers who fall somewhere in between these categories. There are many types of gamers within each of these levels.

The following is a detailed layout of types of gamers and the games they enjoy. This can help you decide if you fit into one of these categories or can help you find out what kind of gamer your friends are. You may just find the right fit for you:

Casual Video Gamers

Bejeweled 3 Screen Shot Snow Level
The Bejeweled games are one very popular casual video game.

The first type of video gamer is the casual gamer. Casual gamers are those who don’t occupy themselves with knowledge about video games and generally don’t play video games for an extended period of time. They enjoy playing video games when they find a quiet moment to relax and play. Casual gamers pick video games that are fairly stress free.

But don’t be deceived, people in this category are gamers too. They can really get into their video games and turn them into a social experience. In fact, many casual video games are available on social media sites such as Facebook. Friends can share what they are doing in their game and see what others are doing as well.

Casual video games can also be a very fun social activity for small groups or couples. Sitting together in front of the computer and figuring out a puzzle has been a favorite pass-time for me and my wife.

There are many types of games that casual gamers enjoy playing. These are a few of the most popular sub-genres:

  • Puzzle Games: Many casual video games have a puzzle element to them–albeit these puzzles are often simple or an answer key. Puzzle  games include Mahjong, Solitare, Cut the Rope and Tetris.Donkey Kong Country Title Gif
  • Platformer Games:  Platformer games have you play a character that jumps from platform to platform, avoiding enemies, and collecting points. Some famous platformers include the original Mario BrothersDonkey Kong Country, Raymanand Battle Block Theater.
  • Hidden Object Games: Hidden object games are like an I-Spy book on the computer. The player goes from location to location within the game and sifts through areas filled with objects and tries to find specific ones. Some of the most famous hidden object games include Mystery Case Files , and the I-Spy video game series.
  • Match Three Games: Match three games line up many different colored objects or gems in a grid. It is up to the player to move the objects around and match three in a row. Some of the most widley popular match three games include Bejeweled, Candy Crush, and Puzzle Quest.
  • Bubble Popper Games: Bubble popper games are very fun and addicting. In bubble popper’s the player will shoot colorful bubbles at a line-up of bubbles, shapes, or balls in order to cluster similar items together. When they succeed the bubbles will pop! Popular bubble popper games include Peggleand Bubble Bash.

As you may have noticed these sub-genres may overlap. Match three games could easily be considered puzzles games and platformers will often have puzzles built into them. There are many options for casual gamers to pick from and enjoy.

If you feel like you’re a casual gamer go ahead and give some of these a try!

Strategy Video Gamers

Age of Empires Screen Shot
Age of Empires 2 helped define the strategy genre of video games.

On the other end of the spectrum from casual games is strategy games. Strategy games are engaging for both the logical and creative mind.

Acting like a digital board, game players can use their mind and their wit to best master a video game and conquer opponents either computerized or human.

Strategy games require mind power, meticulous management, and foresight to master. Much like chess, it provides a stimulating experience for the player’s intellect.

There is a wide variety of strategy games so here are a few of the main sub-genres of strategy games:

  • Real Time Strategy Games: Real time strategy games—also known as RTS—allow a player to control large armies and populations of computer generated characters in real time. Players often build up villages and cities in order to make their population more resilient. Then teams will fight with the resources gained throughout the game. Some famous real time strategy games include Age of Empires, Warcraft 3, and Starcraft.
  • Turn Based Strategy Games: Turn based strategy games are similar to RTS. The main difference is that civilization v gifplayers take turns building their kingdoms and characters. Much like a board game the game map will have spaces that units and characters can move in a turn. Some popular turn based games include Age of WondersCivilization V and Warlock: Master of the Arcane.
  • 4x Strategy Games: 4x strategy games are named after 4 main elements: explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate. These elements create an experience of depth and complexity. The social, economic, cultural, and political elements in 4x games are all intricate working components. Some examples of 4x strategy games include Crusader King’s 2 and Sins of a Solar Empire.
  • World Building Games: World building games are a fun and often more relaxed form of strategy game. There is seldom the stress of war and players can concentrate on building their world/civilization/city etc. Players can work together to create the best world possible or race to have the most successful world. Some popular world building games include Sim City, Railroads, and Minecraft.
  • Puzzle Strategy Games: Unlike casual puzzle games, strategy puzzle games create a world filled with mind boggling and difficult puzzles. This is a diverse sub-genre with many innovative forms of puzzles. Some examples of puzzle strategy games include Portal, Braidand Limbo.

As before, a lot of these sub-genres overlap. Strategy gamers love many of these games and love getting together with friends to build up and battle it out.

If you think you want your mind stretched with some heavy strategy, go ahead and try some of these games out.

Action Video Gamers

Halo 4 Screenshot
The Halo games are some of the most famous first person shooters.

Sometimes gamers are looking for something that doesn’t require as much concentration. Action games are a fast paced and stimulating alternative.

Action games may easily be the most popular genre on the market. Action gamers use dexterity and skill to try and outwit their opponents. Although many action games may be too violent for Latter-day Saint audiences there are plenty of family friendly action games out there to please everyone!

Here are a few of the main sub-genres of action games:

  • First Person Shooters: The most popular sub-genre of video games is the first person shooter—also known as FPS.Metroid Prime Gif You play from the perspective of the first person—literally inside the character’s head—and you always have a gun or weapon of some sort in which you use to shoot enemies. The most famous FPS games include Goldeneye 007, Metroid Primeand Medal of Honor.
  • Hack and Slash Games: Hack and slash games differ from first person shooters in that instead of guns they use swords, whips, and knives. In hack and slash games players control a character who can usually jump, dive, and slash like no other. Hordes of enemies will be sent at the hero to fight. Some popular hack and slash games include Castle CrashersRune Classic, and Torchlight II.
  • Fighting Games: Fighting games are a fun and quick choice for action gaming. Players go head to head against each other or against a computer in a tournament style fighting scenario. Whoever manages to knock their opponent out first is the winner. Famous fighting games include Guilty Gear, Tekkenand Super Smash Bros.
  • Racing Games: Racing games could easily be in a category of their own, but for simplicity’s sake they easily fit into the action category. In racing games, players race cars, carts, boats, motorcycles, and any other vehicle you could imagine. Often times players have the option to sabotage other players with traps and weapons. Some good examples of racing games include Mario KartNeed for SpeedBurnout Paradise, and Gran Turismo.

All of these are fairly easy to learn and pick up. This is one reason why action games are so popular.

Action games are also perfect for social game nights and tournaments. They can be used for Family Home Evening, ward activities, or just a night with friends.

Story Video Gamers

Alan Wake Cinematic Screen Shot
Some video games, like Alan Wake, use moving cinematics to tell a story.

Other gamers aren’t necessarily looking for something that is so action or strategy heavy. Sometimes—just like reading a good novel—players want a game with relatable characters and a moving story.

The earliest video games were story based games made up of text that came on the screen and asked you to make a choice, not so different from a choose your own adventure book. Story games are usually single player and are intended to draw the player into the world of the game.

Story gamers may not end up being as social as other gamers, but they believe in the art of good storytelling. They also love to discuss the story with friends after they are done playing.

Here are a few sub-genres of story based video games:

  • Role Playing Games: Role playing games may easily be the most popular storyLightning Final Fantasy gif based video game. The player picks a hero and leads them through events that help develop their story and character. Additionally, role playing games rely heavily on gaining in game experience, leveling up, and collecting and equipping items in order to progress to the next portion of the game. Some famous role playing games include The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Final Fantasy, Pokemonand Dragon Quest.
  • Adventure Games: Adventure games are similar to role playing games except that they deal more with puzzle solving, item management, and story progression. Players often will explore one area for an extended period of time to find a specific item or to talk to a specific character. Some famous adventure games include King’s Quest, Sherlock Holmes, and Gone Home.
  • Visual Novels: This is a lesser known, and less popular storytelling game. Originating in Japan, the visual novel is the type of game where images of characters appear on the screen with text and choices. Visual novels often have themes of drama or romance but often overlap with other genres such as role-playing games and even strategy games. A few examples of visual novels include Dandelion, Long Live the Queenand Agarest: Generations of War Zero.
  • Cinematic Games: Cinematic games are a more recent development as technology has made it possible to create games like this. Life-like characters inhabit the world of the game and they generally play more like a movie than an actual video game. They use the player’s choices to create a sweeping story line. Games in this sub-genre include Back to the Future, Jurassic Parkand Alan Wake.

Story video games are a great option for people who love reading a good novel. There is a lot to feel, think about, and gain from these type of games. However, they do usually require a time commitment—just like a long novel or book series—and may not be for everyone.

If you think you would like these types of games then try them out.

Video Game Shopping Guide

Video Game Shop
There are video game stores in almost every city with hundreds of games to choose from.

Now that we’ve looked at the types of games on the market we’re going to take some time to look at buying video games. This section will help you find the perfect game for you or your gaming friend or family member.

These are obviously not all the games you could potentially buy, these are just some highly recommended games.

I will try to stay away from the most obvious or well-known choices.

In this shopping guide each video game will list the Gamer Level (Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced—as described above), Gamer Type (casual, strategy, action, or story—as described above), which systems the game is available on, and the average price. There will also be a recommendation that will give a little background on the game and what type of audience would like each game the most.

Disclaimer: If you are buying a video game make sure you know which video game or computer system your friend or family member has. You wouldn’t want to accidentally get an Xbox One copy of a game if your friend or family member only has an Xbox 360. Also, make sure to check computer system specifications before purchasing a PC or Mac game.

A note about ratings: Video games, just like movies, are given a rating based on their content. A game that is rated E for Everyone is okay for all ages to play. A game that is rated E 10+ is usually appropriate for children ten and up. A game that is rated T for Teen is usually appropriate for gamers 13 and up. Be aware, there are a number of T rated games on this list and I will point them out. Make sure to know the video game’s content, as well as the recipient’s age, before buying it.

Lastly, games that are rated M for Mature are suggested for gamers 17 and up. There will be no M rated games on this list, but if you decide to diverge from these suggestions make sure to always check the content rating on the back of the case before buying.

Scribblenauts Unlimited

Scribblenauts game case

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Casual – Puzzle

System: PC, Wii U, and 3DS

Average Price: $19.99

Recommendation: Scribblenaunts Unlimited is a fun and laid back puzzle game that gives the player the freedom to explore their imagination. In this game players play Maxwell. Maxwell has a magical notebook. Whatever he writes in it will come to life. This game is great for kids and adults alike.

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze Game Case for the Wii U

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Casual – Platformer

System: Wii U

Average Price: $43.99

Recommendation: Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze is just a barrel full of fun! This action platformer sticks to the roots of old Nintendo staples while innovating game play for a new age audience. Great upbeat music accompanies cute and artful graphics to make a fun gaming experience for all ages.

Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove

Mystery Case Files Dire Grove Game Case

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Casual – Hidden Object

System: PC, Mac

Average Price: $10.99

Recommendation: Mystery Case File: Dire Grove is a mystery story about a group of young college students who visit the abandoned town of Dire Grove and try to solve an ancient celtic mystery. It has beautiful snowy artwork, gorgeous music, and a compelling story. This game is perfect for mystery lovers.

Bejewled 3

Bejewled 3 Game Case

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Casual – Match 3

System: PC, Mac,  XBOX 360, PlayStation 3, and the Nintendo DS

Average Price: $10.99

Recommendation: You just can’t go wrong with the king of all match 3 puzzle games.  Bejeweled 3 has eight different methods for playing—including 4 secret modes—with varying difficulty creating hours of fun. This game is perfect for casual gamers who just want to have a way to relax in a free moment.

Zuma’s Revenge

Zuma's Revenge Game Case

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Casual – Bubble Popper

System: PC, Mac, Nintendo DS, and Xbox 360

Average Price: $9.99

Recommendation: In Zuma’s Revenge gamers play as a fun looking frog who can shoot magic Aztec orbs from his mouth. Player’s try to break apart multi-colored orbs before the build up too far and touch the forbidden skull in each level. This game is perfect for casual gamer’s who like a slightly more tense and challenging game.

Starcraft II Wings of Liberty

Starcraft 2 Game Case

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: Strategy – RTS

System: PC

Average Price: $19.99

Recommendation: Starcraft II Wings of Liberty is one of the most popular strategy games on the market. Player’s can choose between three distinct sci-fi races. This game also has an expansion set called Starcraft II Heart of the Swarm. (Parents, be aware this game is rated T for Teen and has instances of sci-fi violence.)

Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth

Civilization Beyond Earth Game Case Gamer Level: Advanced

Game Type: Strategy – Turn Based/4x

System: PC

Average Price: $49.99

Recommendation: Civilization: Beyond Earth takes turn-based strategy games to the next level. Player’s work to build the most advanced civilization possible, starting from meager beginnings and building up to magnificent heights such as space travel and galactic warfare. This is for the truly dedicated strategy fans.

Endless Legend

Endless Legend Cover Game Case

Gamer Level: Advanced

Game Type: Strategy – Turn Based/4x

System: PC

Average Price: $34.99

Recommendation: Endless Legend is a new 4x strategy game that has a science fantasy theme. The graphics also take an original look with sharp edges and beautiful whimsical landscapes. This game is great for hard core strategy gamers looking for something innovative and new.

Tropico 5

tropico 5 case cover Game Case

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: Strategy – World Building

System: PC, Mac, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 4

Average Price: $39.99

Recommendation: Have you ever dreamed of owning your own tropical island? Well, now you can! Tropico 5 is a world building game where the player is the owner and dictator of a small tropical island.  (Parents, be aware this game does have a T rating and therefore will have mild adult themes.)

Portal 2

Portal 2 Game Case

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: Strategy – Puzzle

System: PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3

Average Price: $22.99

Recommendation: Portal 2 is one of the most acclaimed puzzle games on the market to date. The game plays in a first person view and utilizes puzzles that are based on physics. Players will need to employ logic, thinking skills, and even cooperation to figure out the solution to each puzzle.


Destiny Xbox 360 Case Cover

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: Action – First Person Shooter

System: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4

Average Price: $59.99

Recommendation: In Destiny, Players create a character in order to traverse through a science fantasy world. Destiny is a huge, beautiful, and detailed game that will satisfy any action gamer. (Parents, Destiny is rated T for Teen and includes stylized science fantasy violence. Additionally, this game requires a reliable internet connection to play.)

Dark Souls 2

Dark Souls 2 PS3 Game Case

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: Action – Hack-and-Slash

System: PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3

Average Price: $29.99

Recommendation: Dark Souls 2 is the critically acclaimed sequel to the very successful Dark Souls. The dark fantasy theme is engaging and rich and the game-play is brutally hard and rewarding. (Parents, be aware that this game is rated T for Teen and contains medieval fantasy action and violence.)

Hyrule Warriors

Hyrule Warriors Wii U Game Case

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Action – Hack-and-Slash

System: Wii U

Average Price: $58.99

Recommendation: Fans of the Legend of Zelda series will find hours of enjoyment in the latest spin-off game in the genre. In Hyrule Warriors players will fight off hundreds of enemies with powerful attacks. (Parents, this game is rated T for Teen due to its instances of fantasy violence and action.)

Injustice: Gods Among Us

Injustice: God's Among Us Xbox 360 Game Case

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: Action – Fighting

System: PC, Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita.

Average Price: $19.99

Recommendation: Many Latter-day Saints love superheros. Now gamers can play as all of these heroes in the acclaimed fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us. Each superhero has his or her own special moves and powers. The game is over the top action, destruction, and fun. (Parents, this game is rated T for Teen and contains superhero violence.)

Need for Speed Rivals

Need for Speed Rivals Xbox One Game Case

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: Action – Racing

System: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4

Average Price: $18.99

Recommendation: Need for Speed Rivals is an exciting and customizable racing game experience. Players have the opportunity to buy and customize their car and then take it out on the open road. Need for Speed Rivals is a fast and action-packed game that any racing fan will enjoy.

Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart 8 Wii U Game Case

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Action – Racing

System: Wii U

Average Price: $48.99

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a fun racing game for the whole family then Mario Kart 8 is the game for you. Take the famous Mario characters into some of the most crazy and action packed races yet. Kids and adults alike will enjoy this game and its whimsical fun.

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix Game Case

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: Story – Role-Playing

System: PlayStation 3

Average Price: $19.99

Recommendation:  Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix is a story game that includes a full cast of familiar Disney characters! This edition includes the first three games in the series: Kingdom Hearts 1 Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts RE: Chain of Memories, and Kingdom Hearts 385/2 Days. This is a perfect family friendly game with action, adventure, and a deep story.

Kingdom Hearts HD II.5 Remix

Kingdom Hearts HD II.5 Remix PS3 Game Case

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: Story – Role-Playing

System: PlayStation 3

Average Price: $39.99

Recommendation: If your friend or family member has already played the first game then a perfect gift would be the second installment. Kingdom Hearts HD II.5 Remix comes with the second set of games in the series including: Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix, and Kingdom Hearts RE: Coded. 

Fantasy Life

Fantasy Life 3DS Game Case

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Story – Adventure

System: Nintendo 3DS

Average Price: $39.99

Recommendation: Fantasy Life is a fun and simple fantasy adventure game for story gamers young and old. Level 5, the company behind the game, is well known for their lush and detailed adventure games. The cute and whimsical graphics will draw the player in along with its simple story and memorable characters.


Journey PS3 Game Case

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Story – Cinematic

System: PlayStation 3

Average Price: $19.50

Recommendation: Journey is one of the most beautiful, moving, and cinematic video games on the market. Fans of story based games will enjoy Journey and its whimsical and musical nature. This special edition of the game includes two bonus games, Flow and Flower, along with a whole number of extra features to keep any story gamer happy for hours to come.

Understanding Board Game Culture

Will Wheaton Table Top

Similar to video games, board games have exploded in popularity over the past few years, especially among Latter-day Saints. With so many types of board games, table-top gaming has become as vast and versatile as video games.

Previously the major activities for Latter-day Saints were basketball (or a similar sport) for men, and home making or crafts for women. However, for people who don’t excel at sports or home making—or simply don’t enjoy them—board games have opened up new avenues for social interaction.

Originally there were only classic games like Clue and Monopoly, but now there are hundreds of games with intricate rules and innovative ideas.

So, similarly to video games, how can you know what types of board games you will enjoy? What kind of a game group will you fit in? And what kind of game should you buy for a board gaming friend?

Well, just as with video games, there are different levels of board gamers and board game groups and different types of games each gamer enjoys. The categories for board gamers are extremely similar to video games.

To truly simplify gamers down would be to put them in these categories:

  1. Level 1 – Beginner:  Beginner’s play games not for the sake of playing games but for the sake of being with friends and family. Games are a social activity. The games they usually choose are fairly short or easy to learn. They also often pick one game that they love and stick with it.
  2. Level 2 – Intermediate:  Intermediate gamers enjoy having the occasional game night when they have free time and are usually okay trying diverse types of games. They generally like their games to be engaging but also leave room for socialization during game play. They have a humble board game collection of their favorites games. Their board games don’t usually last more than an hour or two.
  3. Level 3 – Advanced:  Advanced gamers are the most enthusiastic gamers in the board game community. They often run or manage the local Latter-day Saint board game group and set up game nights at least once a week if not more. They have an extensive library of board games and will often dedicate an entire room to their games. Game sessions can take anywhere from 2 to 7 hours.

There are many gamers who fall somewhere in between these categories and there are many types of gamers within each of these levels.

The following is a detailed layout of types of gamers and the board games they enjoy. This can help you decide if you fit into one of these categories or can help you find out what kind of gamer your friends are. You may just find the right fit for you:

Casual Board Gamers

clue board game 1986
Clue is one of the oldest and most famous casual games.

The first type of board gamer—just like video gamers—is the casual board gamer. Casual board gamers fully enjoy games but only play board and card games when they have a free minute with friends. It is a simple activity to keep everyone distracted while they finish up dinner, or while they all unwind at the end of the night. The games are rarely long or complicated.

Casual gamers tend to only play the most well known games but are also happy to try new games they haven’t heard of before.

Casual board games are fun and can be easily enjoyed by any group of friends or family.

Here are a few of the different types of casual board games.

  • Casual Card/Tile Games: Not necessarily a proper board game, but these are the types of card and tile games we all know of and have played at one point. They are fairly simple, fast, easy to learn, and usually don’t have any type of thematic element attached to them. Some examples of casual card games include Uno, Phase 10Dominoes, Pitand Rummikub.
  • Fast Casual Board Games: This may seem like a broad category, but that is because casual board games are so simple and easily played that they are often difficult to classify into any specific region. Fast board games only take 20 to 45 minutes from set up, to play time, to clean up. Some fast casual games inclue Clue, Scrabble, Sorry, Lifeand Trouble.
  • Longer Casual Board Games: Longer casual games are just a step up from the fast ones. These often have more of a theme and require a slightly longer time commitment. Even so, these games will only be played on occasion in conjunction with shorter board games and card games. Some longer casual games include Risk, Monopoly, Ticket to Rideand Settlers of Catan.

Casual boards games are the easiest to find and usually have the cheapest price tag. They are a great option for families and for kids because they are easy to learn and quick to play.

Strategy Board Gamers

Lords of waterdeep board game set
Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement strategy board game by Wizards of the Coast.

The next most popular type of gaming is strategy games. Like strategy video gamers, strategy board gamers enjoy the fact that their board games force them to think and plan ahead. Strategy games require skill and planning.

Strategy games require a slightly longer time commitment, most requiring an hour or two.

Some of these games incorporate puzzles or intellectual game-play, and many come with a theme (WWII, sci-fi, etc.) to help add flavor to the game.

Here are a few of the different sub-genres of strategy games:

  • Auction/Bidding Board Games: Bidding games revolve around quick thinking and money management. Players will bid with some form of currency (card board coins, paper money, resources, etc.) in order to collect the best resources or game points. Deciding when to give up the money is important because a better option may come up later in the game. A few good examples of auction games include Ra, Modern Art, Aladdin’s Dragonsand Pizzaro & Co.
  • Worker Placement/Resource Management Board Games: In worker placement games players must place tokens—representing workers of some sort—to lay claim to the resource and benefits of that space on the board. Players also manage the resources or items they have control over. Some great examples of worker placement/resource management games include The Lords of Waterdeep, Stone Age, The Villageand Elfenland.
  • Kingdom Building Board Games: In kingdom building board games each player is racing to build the largest and most successful kingdom before everyone else in the game. Kingdom builders require management and planning skills in order to win. Popular examples of kingdom building games include Kingdom Builder, Kingdoms, and Seven Wonders.
  • Deck Building Games: Deck building games are card games where players pick or buy new cards for their personal deck each turn. Then they use the cards they’ve gained to procure points until the end of the game. Players must be careful when picking new cards. Having the right card combination can drastically change the game’s outcome. Good examples of deck building games include Dominion, Nightfall, Thunderstoneand Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game.
  • Puzzle Games: Puzzle board games may require the most brain power and foresight in order to win. Unlike other strategy games, puzzle games don’t often have a theme and instead concentrate on the puzzle element itself. Some good examples of puzzle games include Blockus, Qwirkle, Ingeniousand Pentago.

War Board Gamers

Battlelore Second Edition game board and set
In Battlelore players go head to head with armies of mythological creatures.

War board games could easily be classified as strategy games as well. However, war gamers will often define them as a separate genre.

War gamers love to plot, plan, and scheme in order to overthrow the opposing army or civilization. War games require tactical planning as well as a luck. Most war games use dice or cards to randomize the battles and events.

Here are a few sub-categories of war games.

  • Area Control Board Games: In area control games players must move their units or troops into specific areas of the board and hold their ground for as long as possible. The goal of these games involves controlling specified areas of the map for a specified period of time. Some great examples of area control games include Rex: Final Days of An Empire, Axis and Allies, Nexus Ops, Small Worldand Game of Thrones.
  • Conquest Board Games: Conquest board games are most similar to 4x video games. They use the same elements of exploring the board, expanding the army, exploiting the games resources, and exterminating the enemy. These are often the longest board games, some taking up to 5 or 6 hours. Examples of conquest board games include Civilization the Board Game, Twilight Imperium, Cosmic Encounterand Empires of the Void.
  • Tactical Board Games: Tactical war games focus heavily on pawn movement and placement. Each piece’s position makes a difference in how battle is resolved. These games have sprawling armies on a single battlefield map. Some good examples of tactical board games include Battle of WesterosBattleloreand Battlecry.
  • Miniature Games: Miniature games are only for the very dedicated war gamers. They are extremely time intensive and cost a significant amount of money. Players buy  game pieces individually to build an entire army of miniatures. Battle maps often take up a full table. Examples of miniature war games include WarhammerWarmachine, Dust Warfare, Star Wars: Armada and Star Wars: X-Wing  

War games are very fun and extremely competitive. If you like sweeping battles and strong armies, then war gaming may be a good choice for you.

Role-Playing Board Gamers

Descent: Journey’s in the Dark game board set
Descent: Journeys in the Dark is one of the leading role-playing board games on the market.

Out of all board games the most thematic are role-playing games, also known as RPGs. Gamers who play RPGs really love immersing themselves in the story and culture of the game. For an hour or two gamers control a character with a background, relevant statistics, and abilities.

Many people may associate role-playing games with fantasy worlds similar to J.R.R. Tolken’s Lord of the Rings universe. But role-playing games take place in fantasy, science fiction, post-apocalypse, and even the contemporary world.

Here are a few types of role-playing games:

  • Dungeon Crawl Board Games: Dungeon crawl board games originated with fantasy themed games where elves, dwarves, and halflings ran through a subterranean world and fought monsters. There are still many fantasy themed dungeon crawls today. But now a dungeon crawl can refer to any game where characters run through a path of rooms or tunnels and fight any kind of enemy. Some fun examples of dungeon crawl board games include Mansions of Madness, Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Star Wars: Imperial Assaultand Wrath of Ashardalon
  • Open World Board Games: In an open world board game players take their characters to explore an entire world map. Traveling from place to place they try to complete tasks that the game requires. Some examples of open world board games include Runebound, Talisman, Return of the Heroes, Merchant of Venusand Firefly: The Board Game.
  • Cooperative Board Games: In cooperative board games players work together to accomplish goals. Each player has a character with a unique skill or abilities that will help out the group as a whole. These can be good for groups who don’t like competition. Some examples of cooperative games include Arkham Horror, Pandemic, Flash Pointand Forbidden Island.
  • Pen and Paper Games: Lastly, there are pen and paper games. These require a lot of intricate rules, memorization, and math. In pen and paper games players use numbers to represent a character in the game. One player (often known as the game master) controls the story while the other players control their characters. It is an advanced version of group storytelling that can be very fun for gamers with a creative mind. The most popular examples of pen and paper games include Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, World of Darkness, Numeneraand Shadowrun

Many of these different types of role-playing games overlap in mechanics or theme—just like all of the other games categories on this list. But knowing which games are out there can help you find a game that is a good match for your needs.

Board Game Shopping Guide

Board Game Shop
There are literally hundreds of board and video games on the market to choose from.

Just as we did with video games we’re going to take some time to look at buying board games. This section will help you find the perfect board game for you or your gaming friend or family member.

Now, this is not all the games you could buy, these are just some highly recommended games.

As with the video games, I will try to stay away from the most obvious or well-known choices.

In this shopping guide each board or card game will list the Gamer Level (Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced—as described above), Game Type (casual, strategy, war, or role-playing—as described above), the number of players who can play the game, the average play time a game takes, and the average price. There will also be a recommendation that will give a little background on the game and what type of audience would like each game the most.

Chaos Marauders

Chaos Marauders Card Box Cover

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Casual – Card Game

Number of Players: 2 – 4

Average Play Time: 30 Min

Average Price: $12.00

Recommendation: Chaos Marauders is a fast and crazy card game of orcish delight. Players take turns drawing cards from the deck and adding them to their army of orcs and goblins. But watch out for the mark of chaos because it can destroy any work the player has done during the game! Chaos Marauders is an easy and chaotic game that is perfect for fans of games like Killer Bunnies and Munchkin.

Love Letter

Love Letter Card Game Components

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Casual – Card Game

Number of Players: 2 to 4

Average Play Time: 15 Min

Average Price: $7.99

Recommendation: Love Letter is an easy to learn and easy to play card game. Players work to be the first to get their “love letter” to the princess by hiring other members of the kingdom. Each time a player wins a hand they claim a victory point. The first player to three victory points wins the game. Love Letter is small and compact and comes in a velvet red bag for easy storage and transportation.

 Carcassonne: Winter Edition

Carcassonne Winter Edition Box Cover

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Casual – Tile Placement

Number of Players: 2 to 5

Average Play Time: 40 min

Average Price: $39.99

Recommendation: In Carcassonne players take turns drawing tiles and then placing them down, creating a large map of cities, roads, and farms. At the end of the game players count points for the areas they control. The player with the most points wins! This is a simple and quick game that is fun for all gamers.

King of Tokyo

King of Tokyo Board Game Box Cover

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Casual – Dice Rolling

Number of Players: 2 to 6

Average Play Time: 30 min

Average Price: $29.99

Recommendation: In King of Tokyo players take on the role of one of the mammoth sized monsters—inspired by the Godzilla movies—who is set on destroying Tokyo. The last monster standing inside Tokyo is named the King of Tokyo! This is a fun and random game that is easy to learn and quick to play.


Dungeon! Board Game Box Cover

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Casual – Dungeon Crawl

Number of Players: 1 to 8

Average Play Time: 30 – 40 min

Average Price: $22.99

Recommendation: Dungeon! is a dungeon crawl board game for casual gamers. Players run through the dungeon trying to collect as much gold as possible. But they better watch out because the dungeon is full of monsters and traps! This game is great for all ages. And if anytime someone forgets the rules they are written right on the board!

Risk: Doctor Who, The Dalek Invasion of Earth

Risk Doctor Who Edition Game Box Cover

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Casual – Area Control

Number of Players: 2 to 5

Average Play Time: 1 – 2 hours

Average Price: $39.99

Recommendation: Risk: Doctor Who, The Dalek Invasion of Earth has gamers play armies of Daleks from the famous universe of The Doctor Who BBC series. One of the best parts of this edition of Risk is that there are rules to make the game go faster. Casual gamers can play their favorite strategy game in a shorter time!

Risk Godstorm

Risk Godstorm Board Game Box Cover

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: Casual/Strategy – Area Control

Number of Players: 2 to 5

Average Play Time: 2 hours and 30 min

Average Price: $34.99

Recommendation: Risk Godstorm takes the rules of normal Risk and adds a few elements of epic proportion. Each player controls a mythic God of legend. If your friend or family member is looking for something a little more rules and strategy heavy than normal Risk, then this is a perfect choice this holiday season.


RA Board Game Box Cover

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Strategy – Auction/Bidding

Number of Players: 2 to 5

Average Play Time: 45-60 Min

Average Price: $34.99

Recommendation: Created by award winning game designer Reiner Knizia, Ra is a game about bidding your gold to buy the best resources in Egypt. Players get points for owning wonders, running trade routes on the Nile, building local culture, and having the most powerful Pharaoh. And all of these things are gained from bidding on them throughout the game.


Village Board Game Box Cover

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: Strategy – Worker Placement

Number of Players: 2 to 4

Average Play Time: 75 Min

Average Price: $35.99

Recommendation: Village is a worker placement game where players try to create strong families and give them different occupations in the village where they live. There is a set number of generations as each player works to make their family the most successful. At the end of four generations the players add up their points and the player with the most wins!

Kingdom Builder

Kingdom Builder Board Game Box

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Strategy – Kingdom Building

Number of Players: 2 to 4

Average Play Time: 45 Min

Average Price: $43.99

Recommendation: Kingdom Builder is one of the leading games in kingdom building board games. It combines simple and easy game mechanics with deep strategy and a medieval theme. This game is perfect for seasoned strategy gamers as well as new comers.

Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game

Legendary A Marvel Deck Building Game Box Cover

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: Strategy – Deck Building

Number of Players: 1 to 5

Average Play Time: 45 Min

Average Price: $46.99

Recommendation: Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game lets players control the famous superheros from the Marvel comic book universe. Players will set up the game by picking a few different heroes for their deck. Then working as a team, the players fight off famous villains and catastrophes as seen in the Marvel comics. This game is great for fans of the Marvel comics and movies.

The aMAZEing Labyrinth

Labyrinth Board Game Box Cover and Components

Gamer Level: Beginner

Game Type: Strategy – Puzzle

Number of Players: 1 to 4

Average Play Time: 20 Min

Average Price: $19.99

Recommendation: The aMAZEing Labyrinth is a puzzle board game where players are trying to reach a secret goal before the other players. The board is made up of a maze that moves and changes every turn. Players will have to plan ahead to figure out the puzzle and get their pawn through the maze. The aMAZEing Labyrinth is a great puzzle game for any strategy gamer young or old.

Axis & Allies: 1941

Axis and Allies 1941 Board Game Box Cover

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: War – Area Control

Number of Players: 2 to 5

Average Play Time: 2 to 3 hours

Average Price: $18.99

Recommendation: Axis & Allies is a staple of war games. Axis & Allies: 1941 keeps much of the strategy and warfare of the original game but creates a game that is slightly shorter and easier to play. This is a perfect choice for any fan of war games and for World War II history buffs.

RuneWars Second Edition

Rune Wars Board Game Box Cover

Gamer Level: Advanced

Game Type: War – Conquest

Number of Players: 2 to 4

Average Play Time: 3+ hours

Average Price: $60.99

Recommendation: RuneWars is the ultimate epic experience in fantasy warfare. Each player takes on the role of one of four unique fantasy races. Players try to adapt their growing civilization to the harsh conditions of the changing seasons of war. Runewars is perfect for the ultimate war gamer.

Cosmic Encounter

Cosmic Encounter Board Game Box

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: War – Conquest

Number of Players: 3 to 5

Average Play Time: 1 to 2 hours

Average Price: $44.88

Recommendation: Cosmic Encounter is a sci-fi themed conquest game where players are racing to colonize at least five alien planets. The rules seem simple at first, attack nearby planets, colonize the planet. There are 50 different races players can play that come in the box. Each race has its own special ability. Cosmic Encounter is great for fans of science fiction and chaotic strategy games.

Battle Cry

Battle Cry Board Game Box Cover

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: War – Tactical

Number of Players: 2

Average Play Time: 45 – 90 min

Average Price: $46.99

Recommendation: Battle Cry is great for Civil War history buffs and war gamers alike. It is a classical game of tactical warfare in which players command troops on a hex grid battlefield. Each scenario in the game has a different set up of landscape pieces and armies. Additionally, each scenario is based off real events from the Civil War.

Star Wars X-Wing

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game Box Cover

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: War – Miniatures

Number of Players: 2

Average Play Time: 20+ min

Average Price: $29.98

Recommendation: Star Wars X-Wing is a miniatures war game where gamers play as the pilots of the famous ships from the Star Wars universe. The base set comes with three ships and allows for two players to play. Adding in any of the many expansion sets can increase the size of a fleet and also increase the number of players.

Dungeons and Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game

Legend of Drizzt Board Game Box Cover

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: Role-Playing – Dungeon Crawl

Number of Players: 1 – 5

Average Play Time: 60 min

Average Price: $43.99

Recommendation: Dungeon and Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game is a dungeon crawler set in the famous Underdark of R.A. Slavatore’s Legend of Drizzt book series. The board is built out of randomized tiles so that the game is always different. Fans of the book series as well as fans of role-playing board games and dungeon crawlers will enjoy this exciting, yet simple, board game.

Talisman: The Magical Quest Game

Talisman The Magical Quest Game Box Cover

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: Role-Playing – Open World

Number of Players: 1 – 6

Average Play Time: 90 min

Average Price: $43.00

Recommendation: Talisman: The Magical Quest Game is one of the oldest and most famous fantasy board games on the market. Players choose one of the many characters and then explore an intricate and detailed fantasy land. This game is a great pick for devout gamers and newcomers alike.

Flash Point

Flash Point Board Game Box Cover

Gamer Level: Intermediate

Game Type: Role-Playing – Cooperative

Number of Players: 2 – 6

Average Play Time: 30 min

Average Price: $27.99

Recommendation: In Flash Point players take on the roles of brave firefighters. It is up to the players as a group to run into the burning building and save the people inside. But they have to be careful because a flash point or fire hazard can cause the fire to explode and spread at an accelerated rate. This game is fun, fast, and requires significant team work.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Starter Set

dungeons and dragons 5th editon starter box Cover

Gamer Level: Advanced

Game Type: Role-Playing – Pen and Paper

Number of Players: 4 – 6

Average Play Time: 1 – 4 hours

Average Price: $11.99

Recommendation: Dungeons and Dragons is the definitive pen and paper role playing game. No one in Dungeons and Dragons is trying to win. Instead, the Dungeon Master controls a fantasy world and the players control their characters in this world. Together they all tell an epic story of heroism. This starter box is perfect for gamers with a strong imagination and a creative mind.

Finding an LDS Game Group

Mormon friends and neighbors playing Board Games around a table
Many game groups will have many different types of players and will play diverse types of games.

Now that you’ve seen what types of games and gamers are out there you can start to look around for a gaming group in your area. Many game groups will have diverse types of gamers in them and often play a variety  of different games.

There are a few different ways to research LDS game groups in your area:

  • Facebook Group Page: Many game groups will host a Facebook page in order to set up game nights each week. You can search and find these game groups just by selecting your area. Then—if the group is open to newcomers—you can request to join them on their next game night. If there isn’t a Facebook page for a game group in your area you can start one and invite friends to join the group who may be interested.
  • Ward/Stake Groups: You may know people who are interested in games in your ward or stake. Sometimes LDS game groups will post bulletins or have e-mail announcements for the group. You may be surprised to see who in your ward enjoys games.
  • School/College Groups: If you live near a school or college campus you may be able to find a game group through them. Campuses often host free game nights for the local community. Other times you can view the school’s bulletins—both online and on campus—to see if any groups have posted events or inquires. Depending on the area these groups or events may not be specifically LDS focused. But they are a good way to meet friends and find other potential LDS gamers.
  • Local Gaming Stores: Another option is to visit your local game store. Many of the gamers at these stores are very dedicated to the hobby and may not be a good match for new gamers. However, game stores often have a bulletin board where local game groups will post their meeting and event times. Again, depending on the area, these groups may not be specifically LDS focused.

Hosting Social Activities with Games


Carcassone Game themed treats for party
Throwing a board or video game party with food is always a fun way to meet new gamers.

If you can’t seem to find a game group in your area or aren’t satisfied with the available options that doesn’t mean that you have to forgo playing games. It’s easy to take initiative and plan your own game night or activity.

The Latter-day Saint tradition of Monday night Family Home Evening already facilitates the use of games and activities, but now—perhaps more than ever—games are opening up social opportunities for Church members where they may not have been before.

Games facilitate meeting new people, getting to know other Latter-day Saints, enjoying the company of friends and family, and fellow-shipping potential Church members.

Inviting friends and family to play can help you find out who is interested in games. You may be surprised that many of your friends enjoy games as much as you.

Here are a few ways that you can incorporate games into normal activities:

  • Ward Game Night: Ask your ward’s activities coordinator or your bishop if the ward can have a game night. Offer to help plan the event and brainstorm ideas. Ask for ward leadership’s permission to make schedules and arrangements. Make announcements in the ward bulletin. Create posters and flyers to hang on the ward bulletin board. Invite all the members of the ward to show up and to bring their favorite board games. Set up a projector with a few family friendly video games in the cultural hall for everyone to play.
  • Youth Mutual: If you are a youth in the Church or a youth leader, plan a board game or video game night for one of the combined mutual activities. Borrow board games from other members in the ward and have the youth bring board games to the activity. Set up a TV and have a video game tournament. Use games to help teach team work and good sportsmanship or about media standards in the For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet. This can be a great activity for the youth who are not as physically inclined to sports or outdoor activities.Game Night Treat and Snack Ideas
  • Game Night Party: Throw a personal party with a board or video game theme. Make foods based in the theme. Have cupcakes with little candy dice on top, use old worn out board games as placements, or you can even buy edible versions of famous board games! Invite friends and family and ask them to bring their favorite board games!
  • Dinner and Games: If you don’t want to host a large event, or if you only want to play games with a few select friends, have an evening of dinner and games! Make it a pot luck where everyone can bring a dish and board game to share.
  • LAN Party: If you have friends who like to play video games on the computer ask them to all bring their computers over and then you can all connect and play a game together! Just make sure you each participant has a copy of the game. Often times websites like Humble Bundle or Steam will have good deals on downloadable multiplayer games.
  • Family Home Evening: And of course there is always the option to play games with your family! Games have been a staple of FHE from the beginning. Getting together with the kids and learning a new game can be fun and rewarding for everyone.

In Closing

There are many more board games and video games than the ones listed here. Gaming is a vast and versatile hobby market. If you didn’t see a game that fits your needs then use this article as a springboard to explore other games.

Do you have games you think should be added to this list? Do you have tips on joining a game group or hosting gaming activities? If so, please leave a comment below!

Happy gaming!

Noah has been a member of the LDS faith all his life, being raised in a devout LDS family. He believes in the power of writing to uplift and enlighten those of the LDS faith as well as those of other faiths and beliefs. Noah and his wife live in Rexburg, ID, where he is studying creative writing and publishing at Brigham Young University Idaho.