I’m not sure if board games are a particularly autistic thing. But I know that they are a very popular pastime among my family, and one of my favourite modes of interaction. I think board games bring together several different factors which combine to make one of the best social situations for me to enjoy.
There are clear parameters for the interaction. Everyone knows that we are going to sit around the table until the game is finished and that we all have a specific purpose for being there. There’s no need to try and improvise with conversation or work out what people want to be doing, because everyone already knows what they’re doing there.
There is a predefined end for the interaction – when the game ends. That provides a socially-acceptable natural time to leave or take a break, without having to create an excuse if I want to get out of the situation.
There are rules to the game. No-one will think I’m being overly rigid or pedantic if I enforce the rules by reminding people what to do and how to play (me and my dad are usually the designated arbiters!). Similarly, no-one will find it weird when we explicitly discuss the rules of the situation (whereas it’s totally unacceptable to ask about the rules of a typical social interaction).
I love games generally. There’s a lot of room for planning and strategising, and I get to stretch my brain and work hard to try and win. But it’s all within defined rules which stops the choices from being overwhelming.
I don’t have much of a conclusion for this post! Just that I’m glad my family have a popular type of interaction that works well for me.