No longer a hobby to keep hidden in the basement or closet, board games have been infiltrating mainstream markets over the past decade — and there is no sign of slowing down. It is estimated that the gaming industry could be worth $12B by 2023. For individuals who had their first tabletop experience with luck-based games such as Monopoly, where a random number generator (RNG), dictates the outcome of your turn, this information may be shocking. However, much has changed in the land of games since the first time you went bankrupt landing on Boardwalk.
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Keep reading to see how boardgames made a huge comeback and the benefits they have in today’s digital landscape.
First published in 1995, Klaus Teuber’s Settlers of Catan, or shortened to Catan, was the first Eurogame to find mainstream success outside of Germany. A Eurogame is typically described as a game that has limited player conflict. Unlike war games, eurogames typically have a point system with multiple paths to victory, a stylized theme that does not dictate gameplay, strong mechanics, and little, or mitigated, to no luck; a strong contrast to games that are now lovingly referred to as Ameritrash. Even though close to being 25 years old, Catan is still bought and played today. Teuber’s success is not only reflected on the table — but in his wallet as well.
As mentioned previously, the tabletop industry, which includes board games, card games, miniatures games, and Roleplaying games (RPGs), generates quite the revenue — surpassing $1.5B in sales in 2017. The massive Dungeons and Dragons style RPG made quite the impression on the community and started as a Kickstarter, having raised close to $4M from fans desperate to play the game. Jamey Stegmaier’s game, Scythe, is another example of a Kickstarter success story, having raised over $1.8M for the initial print run. In fact, three of the Top 10 most backed Kickstarters of all time are board games. Board games themselves raised over $165M in 2018. So, why are more people being drawn to the table and away from the couch?
With our society becoming more-and-more isolated due to a combination of work, technology/cellphone culture, and suburban sprawl, board games give us an excuse to socialize and come together for a common purpose: to play a game. Whether it be a competitive game such as Catan, a cooperative game like Spirit Island, or a group-think game like The Mind, games provide us with our innate need for human interaction.
Games nourish our brains, requiring us to think in ways we normally do not on a day-to-day basis. Studies have even shown that playing games help stave off mental diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, even helping those with chronic depression. From a business perspective, board games allow excellent practice in communication, problem-solving, and creative thinking skill sets. Players are given a set of rules that need to be followed in order to achieve a common goal, whether that be by an individual or by the group. Each player is just as important as the other, just as every employee is important to the overall success of a business.
Whether for business or pleasure, the once niche hobby has become a mainstream success that speaks to a wide audience. In the era of technology and social media where everything we want to know is at our fingertips, sometimes sitting at a table with loved ones or colleagues can teach more than anything we could Google.
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