Friday, October 05, 2007

Board Games Are Becoming More Popular

This is a guest post written by Dee Barizo. He's paid to blog at Net Business Blog. He's been playing German board games since 1998. His favorite games are Settlers of Catan, Puerto Rico, and Apples to Apples.

I don't know about you, but it seems like more people are playing board games today. Before I give evidence for this trend, let me give you some background about myself and where I live. In the last 7 years, I've lived in in a small town that's very close to Fort Worth, a city of over 600,000 residents. When I first moved in, I was the only one who would organize board game sessions. I was the only one who owned German board games. (Is that what they still call them today?) However, things have changed. Every Saturday night, there are game sessions run by other people. Also, people have bought their own German board games.

The same phenomenon is true in Fort Worth. I thought since Fort Worth had many residents, it would be easy to find a regular board game group. However, I was disappointed. I searched the internet and gaming stores and found only 2 board game fans. We started a gaming group in a bookstore with just 3 of us. We grew it to 4 people when one of my college buddies got interested. After a couple months, I had to quit the group because of work. This was five years ago. Early this year, I decided to find out what happened to the group. I expected it to be dead. A three-member gaming group does not have much lasting power. However, when I showed up, there were over 15 people in the group. Most of them were regulars.

This rise of board game popularity is not just found in my area. Whenever I travel, I regularly meet people who have played and enjoyed Settlers of Catan. My college buddies who have since moved to other parts of the country will tell me that they've started buying German board games. Also, they'll tell me they've been going to board game sessions. And they'll say the people running the sessions own more games than me. (I've spent over $1000 in board games.) And here's an interesting fact. These board game session organizers are relatively new in the board game scene. Most of them played their first German board game less than 3 years ago.

So, why do more people know about board games? Why are more people buying them? There are probably many reasons but I just want to cover one.

Gaming in general is on the rise.

It's not just board games, of course. Video games have become very popular. I think more people are valuing interactivity in their entertainment. Look at the movie industry. It has not been experiencing much growth. In fact, many industry experts predict that video games will become bigger than movies.

I think this growth of video games (I include computer games) have helped board game evangelists. Because of the interactivity factor, video games are much closer to board games than movies. Also, video games have become a lot more focused on multiplayer play, or playing against other gamers. This too makes it easier for board games to grow in popularity.

Many of the new video games are geared for the casual player. For example, the Nintendo Wii's record sales numbers can be partly attributed to the casual audience that it targets. Online web games are perfect for the casual gamer, too. These casual online web games are more popular than online video and social networking.

And don't forget poker especially the online poker trend. Poker got big very quickly and would've gotten even more popular if it wasn't for the online poker US ban. I've had a couple poker friends get hooked on Medici and Princes of Florence because I told them they were interesting betting games like poker.

Another thing is that games are often more social than other entertainment mediums. Sure, TV and movie buffs will still get together to watch their favorite shows and movies. However, because of our busy and disconnected lives, people are looking to be more social. And game night is excellent social gathering. There's just something about a game night where people can come and go, eat, laugh, talk, and actually look each other face to face and interact. I've seen it over and over again with my friends. At first, they'll be hesitant to come to their first game night. But once they've experience the social atmosphere and met other people, they usually become regulars.

It's a good time to be a board game geek today. Everyone is playing games these days. More people want to be interact with their entertainment rather than being passive participants. And in this environment, board games are beginning to flourish.


Is your gaming experience similar to mine? Are more people playing board games where you live?


Scott said...

The social aspect of boardgames also pays dividends with one's family. Gaming fans quickly find that they can both game AND spend valuable family time if boardgames are the medium. I make video games for a living, but I play board games with my family.

Pleader said...

Where I live it does appear that there has been a recent growth in gamer numbers. Of greatest interest is that there are a large number of teenagers, with a higher proportion of girls than there were when I was a teen (the modern equivalent are as likely to introduce their boyfriend to the game as he her). All pretty informal and anecdotal, but I do get the buzz.

Dani in NC said...

I can't attest to increasing boardgame popularity in my area since I am not in a position to seek out gaming groups and such. However, I have noticed that people seem to be more open to doing something different on a Saturday. Eating pizza and watching DVDs when you go over to a friend's house is getting old; it's not as exciting as it was when VCRs first became available.

I also think Scott made a good point. We all know that we need to spend time with our kids, but what should we do besides watch TV together? I'm not the least bit athletic, so playing boardgames is preferable to kicking the soccer ball around in the backyard :-).

Anonymous said...

1. The quality of your average movie has been going steadily down for awhile now. Just look at all the remakes. Hollywood doesn't want to take the risks they need to be on top. (I also think traditional theater is going to become more popular as well; it's more personal).

2. Video games became the rage when movies started to get stale and predictable. Now most videogames are stale and predictable. I'll take a wild guess these new boardgamers are moving away from videogames.

3. We know using your brain is fundamental for health in old age and even in the young. Gaming isn't a "waste of time" anymore.

4. Globalization has given us more free time (for all it's faults).