One great way to make learning civics more fun is to use game based learning. Here’s a list of eight political board games about civics and government – some of which make great classroom tools – that could help you do that.
I’ll run through the list of each of the eight civics board games with a quick description and a video review or demo. If you’ve played one of these games, or if you’ve got another favorite that’s not on the list, please scroll to the bottom and leave a comment.
Politicraft – An Action Civics Card Game
We’ll start things off with Politicraft – An Action Civics Card Game, because it was built from the ground up to be a teaching tool for civics. Politicraft is endorsed by the National Council for Social Studies, and the Politicraft website has lessons and materials to help you introduce it and use it in your class.
The gist of Politicraft is that each player is a politician who cares about a particular cause. They play cards that let them take certain actions – joining an organization, getting elected to a position, creating a website. Throughout the game, they create a narrative about how they are creating an impact on their issue.
You can read my full review of Politicraft here.
From an educational perspective, it’s great because it models the many different forms of civic engagement. But beyond that, it’s a well-put together game that is enjoyable. Check out the video below to see how the game is played, and then head over to Amazon to pick up a deck and try it out.
Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game
Next up is Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game. This is actually the game that inspired me to write this post. I was browsing a game store at the mall, and I saw this on the shelf. It just screamed “civics,” and I was curious to see what else was out there that would appeal to the political nerds among us.
This political board game is very much what it sounds like. The game board begins as a blank map, and you compete with other players to draw election districts that will benefit you.
Check out my full review of Mapmaker: the Gerrymandering Game.
The game is quick to play, and easy to learn. It’s simple, compared to a more complex card game like Politicraft, but it’s strategic. It’s got educational value, but it’s also just a fun game to play. You can see the game demo’ed in the video below, and then head over to Amazon to pick up your own copy.
Constitution Quest Game
The Constitution Quest Game is another game that is advertised as having educational value.
It’s a more traditional civics board game, a la Trivial Pursuit, where you move around the game board and answer trivia questions. There’s a good deal of symbolism built into the game to try and stress the importance of the Constitution, but at the end of the day the gameplay is pretty straight forward.
If you’re into trivia games, then I could see this being fun. But I wonder how much replay value it has, compared to a game with more strategy or more complex gameplay. Check out the video below from one of the creators of the game, and then head over to Amazon and take a look.
The Agenda Game
The Agenda Game combines a few different aspect of politics. It’s a civics card game that has a somewhat satirical take on modern politics, and each player represents a certain segment of the electorate – liberals, conservatives, libertarians, etc.
Each person has an agenda, and as they move around the game board they can do things – disseminate propaganda, use dog whistles, spend campaign cash, etc – to try and enact parts of that agenda. You win when you’ve enacted a certain amount of it.
There’s something a little dated looking about the packaging and materials, but I do appreciate that the creators of the game have a sense of humor. You can get a feel for that with the promo video below, and then check out the game on Amazon.
Super-PAC$: The Game of Politics About the Game of Politics
For something a bit more niche, check out Super-PAC$: The Game of Politics About the Game of Politics. As you might assume, it is about Super PACs and campaign finance.
Similar to The Agenda Game, Super-PACs is political board game that is satirical and irreverent. It’s a funny spin on a serious issue.
Mechanically, it’s a card game. You represent a coalition with a goal, and you play cards to bring other factions and interest groups into your coalition. Ultimately, you’re building power to achieve whatever your goal is.
Take a look at the ridiculous promo video below, and then head over to Amazon to check out the game.
The Presidential: The Most Powerful Game in the World
If you’re more interested in elections, then check out The Presidential: The Most Powerful Game in the World. It’s an aptly named game that simulates a Presidential election.
The premise of this political board game is simple. You are competing to be President. The game board is the electoral map, and each turn you make decisions that help you win votes in different states. There’s a strategic element in where you decide to go campaigning, but there’s also an element of chance in that the number of votes you generate is based on the roll of the dice.
One cool feature is that there’s an interactive, online tool that helps you track your progress throughout the game – because otherwise you’ll need to write everything down and do a lot of math.
It’s a nifty, high-level view of what a Presidential campaign is like and how the electoral college impacts strategy. Check out this video review below, and then head over to Amazon to look at the game.
Election Night is another game designed to simulate a Presidential election.
On one level, it’s very similar to The Presidential Game. The game board is the electoral map, and each turn you make decisions that help you accrue votes in different states.
The mechanics of this civics board game are a little different and more complex, which could lend it to be a little more challenging and enjoyable. The game also uses 12-sided dice, which you don’t see every day. So that’s cool.
This would definitely have some educational value, and for younger students there’s a decent amount of math involved which gives it a slightly cross-curricular feel.
You can watch the video below from a gaming convention, or head over to Amazon to read more about the game.
The Contender: Welcome to the Presidential Arena
Finally, we have The Contender: Welcome to the Presidential Arena.
The Contender is a card game, similar in mechanics to Cards Against Humanity. The premise is that each player is a candidate in a debate, and you play cards to make your statements. The cards themselves are all based on real statements made by candidates throughout the years.
Check out my full review of The Contender.
You can only really appreciate the greatness of this game by seeing it, which you can do in the video below. If you’ve ever played Cards Against Humanity, then you know how fun these types of games can be at parties. Head over to Amazon and get a copy for yourself.
What’s Your Favorite Civics Board Game?
So that’s a quick run down of eight civics board games about government and politics. They’re all a little different, and they target different niches.
If you’re looking for a modern strategy board game, check out Mapmaker. If you want a complex, strategic card game, go with Politicraft. If you just want to have fun at a party, go with The Contender.
In terms of educational usefulness, Politicraft would be at the top of my list. Mapmaker, Election Night, and The Presidential Game all have some great qualities, too, for teaching a specific topic. And while the Constitution Quest might not be my favorite, there’s still a place for learning and memorizing trivia.
The others may not make great classroom activities, but they could be cool things to keep around for bonus stations and to keep students busy when they’re done with their other work.
For more on game-based learning, take a look through this index of recent posts on the topic.
And for some other ideas about how to teach civics in a fun way, check out this popular post.
What about you? What’s your favorite civics board game? Have you played any of these in class, or do you have a copy at home? Drop a comment below.
1. Chess. Chess requires two players and is purely a strategy board game played on a chessboard, a checkered tiled board with sixty-four squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. It is one of the world's most ancient and popular games, played by millions of people all across the globe.What is the most played board game? ›
The most popular game by far and ranking as the most popular board game in America is Monopoly.What are the 10 most popular board games? ›
Family Board Games
- Uno. All you need to play this fun family game is the Uno card deck. ...
- Cranium. ...
- Dominoes. ...
- Chutes and Ladders. ...
- Carcassonne. ...
- Traffic Jam. ...
- Trouble. ...
- Ticket to Ride.
The Royal Game of Ur is the oldest playable boardgame in the world, originating around 4,600 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia.What is the number one board game in America? ›
- #1: The Game of Life. What better way to start the list than a game we play every day? ...
- #2: Checkers. ...
- #3: Battlestar Galactica. ...
- #4: Candy Land Game. ...
- #5: Homemade “Monopoly” board game. ...
- #6: Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Adventure Game. ...
- #7: Clue game. ...
- #8: Pokemon Master Trainer board game.
The oldest game on the list – Monopoly (1935) – is also the best-selling board game of all time, with over 275 million units bought since its inception.What is a top selling board game? ›
- #8 - Battleship. ...
- #7 - Trivial Pursuit. ...
- #6 - Clue. ...
- #5 - Scrabble. View this post on Instagram. ...
- #4 - Monopoly. View this post on Instagram. ...
- #3 - Backgammon. View this post on Instagram. ...
- #2 - Checkers. View this post on Instagram. ...
- #1 - CHESS! View this post on Instagram.
Following chess, checkers, backgammon, Monopoly, and Scrabble are among the top five most popular board games.Is monopoly good for your brain? ›
Boosts memory formation and cognitive skills.
These skills help you to gather incoming information and store it to memory, which you can then refer to during everyday life. Playing games like Monopoly, helps to exercise the part of the brain that manages cognitive skills development.
Playing board games increases brain function.
Playing stimulates brain areas that are responsible for memory formation and complex thought processes for all ages. Engaging in play assists in practicing essential cognitive skills, such as decision making, higher level strategic thinking, and problem solving.
The earliest board games published in the United States were based upon Christian morality. The Mansion of Happiness (1843), for example, sent players along a path of virtues and vices that led to the Mansion of Happiness (Heaven).Are board games still popular? ›
There is no question that board games are enjoying a surge in popularity. In recent years, there has been an increasing demand for board games both online and offline. This is due to a number of reasons, including the overall growth of the gaming industry as a whole.What was the first Monopoly? ›
The board game Monopoly has its origin in the early 20th century. The earliest known version, known as The Landlord's Game, was designed by an American, Elizabeth Magie, and first patented in 1904 but existed as early as 1902.What was the first known game? ›
In the Persian Gulf, we discovered the oldest game in the world: “The royal game of Ur”. The Assyrians invented this game more than 5000 years ago. It was a board game, with a board representing a course and pieces that players were moving. This game is preserved in a museum in London.Who invented the 1st board game? ›
The Chinese invented their first known board game in 200 B.C., and, in Western Europe, they were playing Tafl (a game very similar to chess) from 400 B.C.How many new board games come out each year? ›
Over 5,000 unique board games or expansions are released each year, and there are sites listing more than 100,000 currently available games.How many board games does the average person own? ›
Today's gamers have changed, too. While the average household may have had a modest collection of games in decades past, you're more likely to find dozens in the homes of today's gamers. The majority of survey respondents, 57%, own between 1 and 25 board and card games, while 22% have between 26 and 50.What is the most popular board game in the UK? ›
The survey of 2,000 UK adults, conducted by Coral Casino found that the nation's favourite game is Monopoloy. Yep. Monopoly. Otherwise known as the relationship ruiner.Is D and D still popular? ›
It might shock you to hear that over 50 million people have now played Dungeons & Dragons to date. But it's not just the old heads playing it: #dnd has over 4 billion video views on TikTok, with people aged 20-24 now the biggest demographic playing D&D.How many board games are there in the world? ›
There are a handful of board games that back thousands of years, so we know that people made and played board games. However, we suspect the majority of ancient games have been lost to the ages. Today, the Board Game Geek website has a comprehensive board game database with over 100,000 games listed.
It is simple enough that children can play, and compete, with their elders. At the same time, it is challenging and competitive enough that adults can enjoy it. It's an ingenuous combination of Candyland and chess.What are the most fun board games? ›
- Catan. $47.99. ...
- Blokus. $16.99. ...
- Ticket to Ride. $47.99. ...
- Risk. $29.97. ...
- Cards Against Humanity. $29.00. ...
- What Do You Meme? $30.00. ...
- Codenames. $15.97. Walmart. ...
- Exploding Kittens. $19.99. Target.
n. any game played on a board.
Some games can sell for thousands of dollars, especially if they are in good condition with all of the playing pieces intact. These vintage and antique board games are selling for the highest prices.Do board games make money? ›
A successful board game business can make tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. If a game sells for $30 per copy, selling just 1,000 games would generate a revenue of $30,000. In some cases, businesses are much more successful than this. One board game raised over $12 million on Kickstarter.Who invented Monopoly? ›
MonopolyIs Catan still popular? ›
Settlers of Catan was released over 24 years ago and is still today one of the most popular and highest selling board games worldwide.Is Monopoly the most popular board game? ›
Monopoly now accounts for nearly one-third of all global board game sales, largely thanks to Hasbro's own expansion strategy. On New Year's Eve, Monopoly celebrates the 85th anniversary of its patent. Its publisher, Hasbro, can toast the occasion knowing that its prized board game is more popular than ever.How do you play go? ›
How to Play Go - YouTubeWhat are modern boardgames? ›
Modern games are typically designed to keep all players in the game until it ends, and offer many different paths to victory. Some games are co-operative, with the players all working together against the game itself.
How to play Connect 4 - YouTubeWhy do we love board games? ›
Playing board games triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural “feel-good” chemicals. Perceived as a positive emotion, “happy hormones” has the power to improve conscious and unconscious mind functions, leaving person feeling cheerful, compassionate and ultimately content.What is the most popular board game in the world 2020? ›
It may not come as a surprise that one of the most-loved games of all time, Monopoly, is the most popular board game across the world. With almost 200,000 average searches since the start of 2020, it takes the top spot in 12 of the 15 countries we looked at.What is the hardest board game of all time? ›
Go, which has more permutations than there are atoms in the universe, is thought to be the most difficult board game in the world. Today the Google program, known as AlphaGo, defeated world champion Lee Se-dol in the first of five matches in Seoul, South Korea.What is the longest board game in the world? ›
The Campaign for North Africa has been called the longest board game ever produced, with estimates that a full game would take 1,500 hours to complete.What was the first known game? ›
In the Persian Gulf, we discovered the oldest game in the world: “The royal game of Ur”. The Assyrians invented this game more than 5000 years ago. It was a board game, with a board representing a course and pieces that players were moving. This game is preserved in a museum in London.Whats the most popular board game in the USA? ›
Board Games and the Internet
The top board games to play virtually, in order of popularity, are Monopoly, Scrabble, Chess, Risk, and Yahtzee, followed by The Game of Life, Checkers, Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Backgammon.
Chess. One of the most famously difficult games in the world to master is chess.Which is harder Go or chess? ›
In a general sense, the answer to that is Go. The main reason for that is because the size of the board and the fact that it is empty to begin with gives the game a much more complex opening to the game. But if you were to make things equal in board size then chess is the obvious more difficult game to master.Is chess harder than checkers? ›
Is chess or checkers harder? Chess is harder than checkers because there are far fewer moves and board combinations in checkers. Checkers has been solved by a computer, meaning that a perfect game can exist which forces one player to win.
The shortest possible game of Monopoly requires only four turns, nine rolls of the dice, and twenty-one seconds, Daniel J. Myers, a professor of sociology at Notre Dame University, told NPR's Robert Siegel. (You can read the entire play-by-play after the jump, originally posted on Scatterplot.)Does risk take longer than Monopoly? ›
Risk and Monopoly both focus on “taking over” or dominating an area/territory. Alliances can be struck up in both games. In both games, the outcome is influenced by chance. Risk can take 1 to 8 hrs to play, whereas Monopoly is meant to take 60 to 90 mins.Is Monopoly an American game? ›
The board game Monopoly has its origin in the early 20th century. The earliest known version, known as The Landlord's Game, was designed by an American, Elizabeth Magie, and first patented in 1904 but existed as early as 1902.What is the oldest board game in America? ›
The earliest board games published in the United States were based upon Christian morality. The Mansion of Happiness (1843), for example, sent players along a path of virtues and vices that led to the Mansion of Happiness (Heaven).How old is go? ›
Go, probably the world's oldest board game, is thought to have originated in China some 4,000 years ago. According to some sources, this date is as early as 2356 bce, but it is more likely to have been in the 2nd millennium bce.Is chess older than checkers? ›
Historians know that checkers was mentioned by the ancient writers Homer and Plato. Looks like we're going to need our time machine again, because checkers is much, much older than chess! Historians now believe that the oldest form of checkers was played around 3,000 B.C.E.