Make connections at Asheville Parks & Recreation board game and playing card events

scrabble board with tiles that spell gamenight

Phones, tablets, computers, and screens offer endless connectivity, but don’t fully replace the mental and social benefits – and friendly rifts – that come with competitive and cooperative gameplay. Asheville Parks & Recreation (APR)’s popular athletics programs and sports leagues are well known, but many community members have discovered (or rediscovered) the fun and enjoyment of pinochle, bridge, bid whist, dominos, and other card and board games.

Check out five mental wellness benefits of playing board games and cards. For opportunities to join friends and neighbors at game nights and weekly clubs at community centers, browse these resources:

Make Connectionslady wearing blue floral shirt holding a hand of cards

Modern work, school, and extracurricular schedules can pose a challenge to spending time with even the most important people in our lives. A long lunch with friends, family dinner night, or coffee date with a neighbor sometimes won’t happen for weeks at a time. However, kids don’t wait for dinner parties and formal meetups to socialize. They do it by playing! Spending time around a tabletop game doesn’t have to be a high-frills event that requires a lot of planning. Just lay out the game or shuffle the deck and start having fun.

Build Memory, Logic, and Reasoning

Speaking to the power of play in child development, many popular board games can help kids, teens, and young adults with problem solving, decision making, deferring gratification, and dealing with mistakes. Checkers, Mexican train dominoes, Settlers of Catan, Clue, Mancala, and memory match games foster the ability to concentrate and focus for a period of time.

Boost Brainpower

Many classic games like chess, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, and Pictionary challenge creative and analytical thought processes, giving both sides of the brain something to do. Even the simple act of learning the rules and playing a new game can help your mind grow stronger, according to Central Connecticut State University.

Protect Against Dementia

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 5.8 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, including around 200,000 under the age of 65. A 2013 study found risk of dementia was 15 percent lower in board game players vs. nonplayers over a 20 year period, concluding that stimulating leisure activities are considered possible protective factors against dementia and cognitive decline.

Reduce Stress

While your heart may race when you’re about to spade an ace or your blood pressure rises in reaction to a competitive opponent, a 2017 study suggests playing board games can help lower stress and increase feelings of calmness. Many table gamers say they play to unwind and relax. Of course, many board games lead to bouts of laughter that stimulate endorphins. The simple act of having fun can help boost serotonin, relieve symptoms of anxiety, and increase enthusiasm in other areas of your life.


Looking to make new connections around the table? APR hosts organized board games and schedules “community choice” times throughout the week in which community members can access air-conditioned community centers to play basketball and volleyball, enjoy board games and cards, and more.

Check out opportunities: