Over the last few years there has been a lot of anecdotal evidence that modern boardgames are becoming less of a niche activity, with a large number of reports in local and national media. Last month alone, there was a prime-time article on BBC Radio 2‘s flagship Breakfast Show, where Chris Evans interviewed Dicky Duerden, Head of Games at the Chance & Counters Games Cafe in Bristol. The interview took place shortly before 9am (2hrs 13 mins into the show) and discussed classic games like Connect Four and Kerplunk as well as their most popular games, Scrabble and Jenga.
|– Image from bbc.co.uk|
The interview included a couple of nice little anecdotes, for example, Dicky Duerden explained that Battleship began life as a French game called “L’Attack” and was renamed twice, changing to “Salvo”, then “Broadside” before finally becoming “Battleship”. He was also asked whether they have problems with players having temper tantrums and whether people lose pieces or walk off with them. Apparently, Chance & Counters has heavy unflippable tables with shelves to store the games and cup-holders to help prevent spillage. So, the most damage they’ve had to a game was when someone stole all the marbles from Hungry Hungy Hippos—presumably the thief couldn’t stand the noise!
|– Image from medium.com|
Modern boardgames have also featured in print and other media channels. For example, the literary and cultural commentary magazine, The Atlantic, recently reported how U.S. sales of boardgames grew by twenty-eight percent between spring 2016 and spring 2017. They put this increase down to the rise in popularity of card games like Cards Against Humanity, Secret Hitler, and Exploding Kittens as well as what they initially refer to as “hobby” boardgames. Although the article is written from a US perspective, it includes a nice commentary from Phil Eklund, head of Sierra Madre Games and designer of Pax Porfiriana, Greenland and Bios: Megafauna amongst others. The interview with Phil Eklund is excellent and well worth a read; it includes discussion of Essen and Spiel des Jahres as well as discussion of a wide range of games including Power Grid, Biblios and El Grande rather than just the usual Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride.
|– Image by BGG contributor Schaulustiger|
Every report about the growth of modern boardgames hides something less cheerful: the number of stores that have closed in recent time. As demand for modern games increases, so does their availability at places like Amazon, and that increases the pressure on an already squeezed niche. In the last year or so, several excellent and well established stores have closed including Shire Games and Northumbria Games. With prices continuing to rise—a new big-box game is rarely below £50 these days—and the growth of crowd-funding, more and more gamers are looking for discounts where they can. The boardGOATS are lucky to have three excellent outlets locally, Eclectic Games (in Reading), Thirsty Meeples and The Gameskeeper (both in Oxford). Perhaps the Chris Evans interview will encourage more people to pay them a visit.
|– Adapted from Image by Petras Gagilas (flickr.com)|