Games That Teach – Hive and Spatial Orientation

We’ve all played the classic abstract strategy games: chess, checkers and the like. But those are old games. In that last century board games became a family staple and became more colorful and extravagant. And in the last few decades they have advance tremendously in both fun and art design. The days of any new abstract strategy games coming out seemed to be over. Until, that is, Hive came out and opened up the genre again.

The Pieces of Hive
The Pieces of Hive

Hive has won tons of award and gotten some serious buzz (get it?). It’s an abstract that is even more abstracted because it doesn’t have a board. In theory it is played on an infinite grid of hexagons (which is how the game on the iOS and other devices is played) though this grid can only really be about 30 hexes in diameter because of the limitations of number of pieces.

It is also unique in the fact that it has no piece elimination. None of the pieces you play on the board can be eliminated. And you get to choose which pieces you put out first. The objective is to surround the enemy’s queen bee with six of any color piece. And it’s usually a very short game, the longest I’ve played being about ten minutes.

But in my opinion where hive really shines is in the spatial aspect. Each piece moves differently in the two dimensional plain. There are specific, but simple rules governing where you can and can’t move your pieces. It isn’t always obvious where your next move will be, and predicting your opponent’s move can be especially tricky.

Sample Game Unfinished
Sample Game Unfinished

Now I work with spatial things quite a lot, being a cartoonist and graphic designer. I also like to play chess a lot, though I’m not very good, which requires some spatial orientation. But even I can be baffled by Hive at times. It’s such a simple game, but it makes you think so hard, and that is what good games do. Of course you can play more casually as I and most people I play it with (they’re not very cerebral gamers, or even gamers) want to. But even then it’s still flexing your spatial brain muscle or whatever.

Now like, I said spatial resigning is only good in a handful of jobs (architect, graphic designer, artist) and this game really isn’t a teaching tool, it’s more of a practice thing. It helps you get in the zone for such things and it can really be quite relaxing in doing so. It’s one of those games where you marvel at how the other person won rather than being bitter about the fact that you lost. At least to me it is.

So if you already have one of the occupations I mentioned earlier, or are looking into one, try out Hive, it’s great and it can sometimes really help you and let you enjoy things you’ve learned. And you can brag to the people you beat about how your job actually gave you some skill.

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