Board Games On the Rise Recently

Senior Bryce Bolder keeps a steady hand as she takes her turn during a game of Jenga with junior Jamiayla Phipps Feb. 22. Board games are making a recent comeback to common pastime entertainment.

Tabletop games have seen a rise in popularity over the past couple of years. Now, more people turn to board games when bored.

Between 2016 and 2017, board game sales jumped by 28 percent in the U.S. and global sales increased by $3 billion between 2013 and 2016, according to Ad Week.

Johnny Looram, Northwest alum and board game enthusiast, expressed how shocked he was by the rapid growth of the board game culture.

"Today, in the past few years, the world has gotten a lot bigger and more creative with board games," Looram said. "It’s kind of becoming the new hobby. A year ago, I wouldn’t have imagined myself being into them, but I am now."

The global sales are predicted to continue to skyrocket—with the board game industry slated to exceed values of $12 billion by 2023, according to Research and Markets.


In the new, technological age, nostalgia and the simplicity of board games are what draw some people in, like sophomore board game enthusiast Marcus Mallen.

"I think people are getting more interested in board games because they have more of a retro appeal," Mallen said. "With how high-tech and convoluted some of the new technology-based games can get, it’s kind of nice to go back to the basics."

Freshman and Maryville Board Game Cafe employee Sierra Chase said human interaction is what makes board games so special.

"(What makes board games different is) the human interaction, because you actually get to talk to another person and enjoy that experience with them, and it creates memories," Chase said.

She proceeded to summarize why human interaction was valuable:

"So, we don’t become robots," Chase said.            

The board-gaming craze isn’t entirely founded on the dusty games like Scrabble and Monopoly sitting in grandmother’s basement. More than 5,000 new board games hit the U.S. market in 2017 alone, according to the Seattle Times.

Kickstarter, "the world's largest funding platform for creative projects," is a hub and major creative outlet for new-fangled games and the origin of now-famous games such as Cards Against Humanity and Exploding Kittens. Board game traffic on the site had a major rise throughout last year.

"Tabletop games continued their meteoric rise on Kickstarter throughout 2018, helping push the games category to an all-time high of more than $200 million," a January Polygon article said. "Data provided to Polygon by the crowdfunding platform show a nearly 20 percent increase in funds raised by successful tabletop projects over the previous year."

"In total, the tabletop games category — which includes board games, hobby miniatures games, card games and tabletop role-playing games — was up $27.23 million, a 19.8 percent increase compared to 2017" which tramples, in comparison, any earnings the video game projects had made in the past three years.

"When it comes to playing with friends, there’s something about being right there, together, that is really nice," Looram said. "You can interact with each other face to face; there are some video games you can play together all on the same screen or the same couch, but there’s something different about having people around and seeing something visually in front of you that’s nice about board games."

Mallen, Looram and Chase all agreed a board game cafe was the way to dive into the new culture of board games.

"A lot of the newer games I find at the Board Game Cafe here in town because they just have so many of them," Mallen said. "(It’s a way to) just to get exposed to things and try new games without having to pay … to buy the game."

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