Opening Words from Sun. August 16 by Cy Henningsen


My name is Cy Henningsen. My pronouns are he / him / his, and I’ve been a member of the Ethical Society for 8 years.

Today I’d like to talk briefly about something near and dear to my heart – board games!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really liked small talk. I understand the value, being able to talk about something which doesn’t really matter is useful. But it is one of the reasons I’ve never cared for large parties, going to a place packed with people I don’t know and with whom I have probably little in common, sounds kind of horrible.

But, going to a friend’s house to play board games for an evening sounds delightful. I dread having to talk about the weather with a stranger for two minutes, but would be happy to debate the rules of a complicated board game, or trade pretend sheep for pretend wheat for hours. We are strange creatures, aren’t we?

I think board games are pretty great, here is why:

Board game build community and friendship. When I first moved to St Louis, I joined the St Louis Board Game Meet Up and traveled to many cafes and odd shops to play board games. It was a great way to learn what is where in the city and meet new people.

Board games is also one of the reasons why I joined the Ethical Society, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Lance and Jennifer Finney for inviting me to play board games in their home 9 years ago. From those board game nights I got to talk with the Finneys and other Ethical Society members, and learn about the Ethical Society. Being with like minded folks and hearing their views on what the Society is and why they value being part of the Society was a key factor in me joining the Ethical Society.

Playing board games together builds and strengthen friendships. I’ve always loved the phrase birds of a feather flow together, and have found it to be quite true. By in large, I tend to get on well with folks who like board games. We tend to have similar values and world views. And many of my friendships have been built through playing board games.

So why else do I think board games are great? They let you try out different strategies – should you spend all of your money in the game early, and buy many lower cost and lower powered cards, or should you save up and focus on a smaller number of higher cost, higher powered cards? Testing out those kind of strategies can be a lot of fun, and are a big appeal of board games. To put it more academically, board games help to strengthen and practice critical thinking and problem solving.

Some board games let you solve problems together – a very popular and I happy to say ever growing number of board games are cooperative games – the players are all on one team and work together to do something – prevent a great evil, stop a plague, gather treasure before an island is swept away, and so on. I find these type of board games to be especially enjoyable.

And finally and most importantly, board games are fun! Having fun is part of a good life. It is not the only part, but it is an important part. A well lived life should include joy and laughter and if you like board games, getting together with friends to play your favorite board game.

Thank you

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.