NEW YORK — Does a battle over Boardwalk and Park Place always turn family game night into family feud? A new study finds you’re not alone. One in five people have actually banned a board game for causing problems on “Game Night.”

Out of those who’ve brought down the banhammer, it’s Monopoly that stands out as the most debated — and most forbidden — board game of all time. In a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. residents, 20 percent say that their game nights with friends or family members are often or always disrupted by competitive or unfriendly behavior. Typical antics include someone quitting because they’re losing (46%), someone accusing another player of cheating (44%), and two or more players getting into an argument (44%).

Thankfully, according to data compiled by OnePoll on behalf of Z-Man Games, only 11 percent of respondents said they’ve witnessed a physical fight break out. Still, these occurrences have consequences; not only have 22 percent banned certain games, but another 22 percent have had to ban a particular player from their game nights. Thirteen percent even confessed that they themselves are the problem player “every time” or “most of the time.”

Age may have an impact, as boomers over 57 years-old are far more likely to say they’re “never” the problem (71%). Conversely, just 57 percent of Gen Xers between 41 and 56, 38 percent of Millennials between 25 and 40, and 24 percent of Gen Zers between 18 and 24 can say the same.

Younger gamers prefer to work in groups on Game Night

Game NightOn the other hand, younger gamers say they were more likely to ban a player in the past — 32 percent of Gen Z and 24 percent of millennials compared to 11 percent of Gen X and five percent of Boomers. This may be in part because Gen Z respondents are also more likely to prefer games where they work with a team against other teams (38%). For comparison, 48 percent of Boomers prefer to compete on their own against other players.

“Competition brings out the best in some people but the worst in others,” says Justin Kemppainen, Director of Brand Management at Z-Man Games, in a statement. “This can manifest in small ways, like low-level grumping and sulking while playing, but it can blow up into shouting and strife, which can ruin a gaming experience. Looking beyond just competitive games could be better for your gaming group to avoid conflict.”

Pandemic gaming goes remote

Game NightDespite the rise of social distancing, many game enthusiasts are finding creative ways to get together remotely, leading to only a 13-percent decrease in game nights last year in comparison to the previous average.

While many respondents agreed that in-person games are much more “intense” (52%) and “competitive” (42%) than remote ones, four in ten describe remote games as more “relaxed.” In fact, half the poll said that remote games are either just as or more fun than in-person ones.

Although winning is an important reason for playing games for 41 percent of respondents, only 29 percent are actively concerned with “beating everyone else.”

“Being on the same team and battling against a common foe in a cooperative game can create a sense of shared triumph during a victory or shared mourning in defeat,” Kemppainen adds. “Better yet, any negative emotions get directed toward inanimate cardboard instead of people!”

Moreover, for three-fourths of respondents, winning isn’t nearly as important as the number one reason for playing games with others: having fun.

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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