I looked at my board game collection the other day. Not unusual, I grant you. It’s a look-pick-play repeat style activity usually. But I looked at it through a green lens and considered whether I was an environmentally conscious gamer. Eco friendly games are becoming more and more important as time goes on.
Now, board games do use a lot of materials. And the usual conclusion I come to is that plastic is bad and wood is good. But that’s a very simplified view of the issue.
Luckily, board games (or most of them) are designed to last. Bought once, played hundreds of times. Played hundreds of times and then traded, swapped, or given away to another gamer. The life cycle of most games is therefore actually pretty long, and that’s great!
But some publishers are going beyond relying solely on longevity. Some are really focussing on sustainability, whilst others are raising awareness by bringing out games that highlight human created issues affecting the natural world.
And with that in mind, here is a selection of games that in their own way are championing environmentally conscious gaming!
Big Potato Games are one of the biggest champions of reducing plastic in their games to the absolute minimum. Choose any of their games and you feel like you’re making a positive choice in sustainable gaming. Indeed, the paper wrapping used in Day at the Festival is embossed with the words “plastic free”, and the box has not a scrap of cellophane wrapping on it. Plus they make great games!
Day at the Festival is one example and is a gorgeously colourful and crunchy jigsaw puzzle game. First you piece the 1000 piece jigsaw together, then you are challenged to find 101 pun-tastic, cryptically hidden band names within the glorious illustrations. We are a household that loves solving jigsaw puzzles and are utterly board gaming obsessed so we guzzled this one down guilt free!
When Grand Gamers Guild published Endangered in 2020, there was no beating around the bush. This game is all about highlighting the devastation our efforts to progress is having on the survival of species across the globe. Assuming the roles of conservationists tasked with saving animals from extinction, it is a thematic, co-operative worker placement game for 1 – 6 players.
Repopulation is the goal, but to get there you must play smart. Using dice to selection actions, you will need to work together to halt environmental disasters as well as push back against the bureaucracy that threatens the resolve of the UN to champion species conservation. Guaranteed you’ll come away from the table thinking about ways you can make eco friendly choices (as well desperate to play again!).
HABA are renowned for their superior quality children and family games. As such, no eco friendly gaming list would be complete without their inclusion! Again, pick any one of HABA’s huge catalogue, and you’ll be championing eco friendly play. Using not just durable wood but sustainably sourced wood for the majority of their components, HABA have been taking a responsible production and design stance for over 80 years.
Rhino Hero Super Battle is a brilliant dexterity game based on that old concept; a house of cards. The game is simple; you are trying to build up a card skyscraper using a combination of walls and floors. As you go up, if you land on a level inhabited by one of your super pals, it’s time to do battle! Whoever rolls the highest number gets to stay whilst the other player has to go down.
There’s also a bunch of cheeky monkeys making the cardscraper sway! Its lovely design and push-your-luck play captivates young and old alike, not to mention nailbiting as the structure gets higher and higher! As with all HABA titles, this is a game built to last and we look forward to playing it for years to come.
Photosynthesis And Planet
Blue Orange is another publisher making considerable efforts to minimise plastic usage in their games and counteract the impact their products have on the environment. For example, current eco-friendly initiatives include planting two trees in China for every tree used in their games (125,000 at last count!) and to donate percentages of their profits to local causes like “Save the Bay” based in their home city, San Francisco.
They have brought out a number of games that focus on the fragility of the natural world including the fantastic 3D tile laying family game, Planet, and the beautiful Photosynthesis. In Planet you are literally building a world in your hands.
Your goal is to create habitats that attract animals so that you can collect cards and score points. Every time we play, we have great fun, but we also get to discuss big issues like climate change with our 7 year old son in an easy to understand, accessible way. Photosynthesis is a gorgeous abstract strategy game for 2-4 that simulates the life cycle of trees as you use the light of the sum to grow and develop forests.
It is another game that focuses your mind on the natural world and highlights how truly beautiful and precious it is. Plus, there is now a beautiful expansion that incorporates the beauty and power of the moon to activate special powers in the lunar light.
A double dose of eco friendliness to finish our list, Brainbox Nature Trivia is not only a game themed around our natural environment, but is also made of 70% recycled and recyclable materials! With 70 beautifully illustrated cards, you’ll be learning facts in a fun way! Study each card and then answer a question based on the roll of the dice. If you have the most cards by the end of the game, you win!
Given the efforts gone to by the Green Board Game Co to make all their Brainbox games super sustainable, however, everybody and the environment are winners when you play Nature Trivia!