In Cooperative Games, people play with one another rather than against each other. Players enjoy each other as they share resources and make decisions. The fun comes from the setting and story of the game—not from striving to become the winner who takes all.
When we play, we practice how to be in the world. So when we play cooperatively and use cooperative skills including listening, sharing, negotiating, etc., we are actually learning beneficial relationship skills that will help us be good at teamwork and collaborating with others in the real world. Practicing collaborative skills is a huge benefit of cooperative games and a strong reason that these games are useful in education as well as in family and work settings.
Playing cooperative games engages the whole person—hand, heart and mind. Cooperative games pose challenges that take savvy and skill to meet. We share ideas and strategies to win together—so our mental faculties are fully engaged. Besides that, cooperative games facilitate sharing, caring and appreciation for one another. So we learn that cooperation is not just beneficial in a practical sense for achieving goals and accomplishing tasks. Cooperation is also a joy and makes us feel good. In this way, cooperative games open hearts. Cooperative games are active and sensory, too. The cooperative board games we supply at our CooperativeGames.com SHOP are visually appealing with beautiful art and enchanting game pieces. And the active cooperative games that you can learn about through the books we sell and the free resources we offer engage the kinesthetic side of players. (Please See FUN AND FREE and check our BLOG and FACEBOOK page for active co-op games.) So it’s through hands, hearts and minds that cooperative games work their magic.
Cooperative games are a needed antidote to the excessive competition we experience in today’s hypercompetitive society. In the modern, industrialized world winning and “getting ahead” take on exaggerated importance. We hammer competition into kids at school then ask for more on the sports field and even in the games kids play to “relax” at home. It never lets up even though research and common sense tell us that excessive competition leads to stress, envy, anxiety, inequity, reduced productivity and feelings of isolation and depression. It’s harmful to self-esteem and relationships. So it’s healthy to take a break from competition and play a cooperative game!
Cooperative games are healthy for the Earth too. What’s the connection? Cooperative games teach cooperation—and cooperation is necessary for a sustainable environment. When we cooperate, we find ways to share resources rather than racing to grab them for ourselves, trampling our beloved Earth in the process. And cooperation promotes complex problem-solving. Today’s environmental problems are big and complex. Surely we will be more successful solving them if we can work together.
Did you know that Elinor Ostrom won the 2009 Nobel Prize in economics for her work on cooperation? She showed that, in many cultures worldwide, people cooperate to preserve the resources they depend upon—even when there is no outside authority enforcing that sharing. It’s sustainable common sense, action based on enlightened self-interest. People really can and do cooperate! Competition is not as necessary nor as healthy as many people have come to believe.
Here’s something else few people know: Biologists say that cooperation is more normal in nature than competition is. For example biologist Peter Kropotkin says: “competition . . . is limited in animals to exceptional periods . . . Better conditions are created by the elimination of competition by means of mutual aid and mutual support.” Stephen Jay Gould stated that our emphasis on competition rather than cooperation in nature reflects cultural bias. Did you know the phrase “survival of the fittest” was not coined by Charles Darwin but by Industrialist Herbert Spencer??
Hurrah for Cooperation! I wish you many hours of fun, joy, and learning by playing cooperative games! They are good for us in our own lives—and they support the common good too.
Below is a flyer on the benefits of cooperative games that you can download for free and share. Please don’t use this for commerical purposes without getting Suzanne’s permission first. (I will probably say YES but please ask first.)