Sometimes in the copy room or the faculty lounge, a teacher will ask me conversationally what I'm doing with my class today. If the answer is, "we're going to play a card game," I feel the immediate need to justify and explain it - "It's a Latin card game, to teach case endings, verbs etc." The phrase "playing a card game" sounds frivolous . I worry that what my colleague heard was "I don't feel like teaching this class so I'm just going to waste time."
Of course nothing could be farther from the truth. Card games are very instructive. Even better is that after the groups have been made, and the rules explained, they don't require that you lead the activity. You can observe, monitor, or if your class is self-sufficient, you can remove yourself entirely and correct papers, write lesson plans and do the thousand other things you generally never have enough time to do.
While this sounds blasphemous, it is important that the teacher not be the center of instruction. Students need to be active participants rather than passive receptors of learning if any of it is going to stick. Teachers need to step back and recharge their batteries. Card and board games provide opportunities for both of these things to happen. It's a win-win situation all around.
So if the term "card game" makes you nervous, call it an "interactive student-centered cooperative learning activity." Perhaps someday I'll say this myself when someone asks me what I'm doing with my class - unlikely though. I've got enough educational jargon in my life already. Anyone who is truly concerned should just come by - we'll deal you in.