Board games cater to our need for adventure by placing us into a new world where the focus isn’t on daily house chores, work projects, or homework, but instead on winning the game at hand.
Every adventure is different than the next, and players have the opportunity to save a town from a fire-breathing dragon, or build forts against armies planning to destroy them, or create sushi meals depicted on playing cards. Today, board games are making a comeback despite the success of console and online gaming. Over the last several years, video gaming has revolutionized itself from classic consoles like Atari and Nintendo to advanced consoles, mobile apps and online gaming that provide instant access to thousands of games with less pieces and parts.
But don’t count out board games just yet, “Monopoly” and “Sorry” aren’t dead yet. In fact, board games and puzzles are thriving. In 2016, over 3,900 new board games were released to the public. A study by Euromonitor International found that board games and puzzles grew in revenue from $9.3 billion in 2013 to $9.6 billion by 2016. The growth isn’t stopping there, as board games and puzzles are expected to yield a 1% sales growth rate year-over-year.
New human-to-human interactive games like Hunt A Killer murder mysteries, The Oregon Trail, and Exploding Kittens have paved the way for board games to make their comeback. Family, friends, strangers, and colleagues alike search for fun and memorable experiences to share, and board games provide this social activity that society craves today.
Here are 10 Reasons why Board Games are Making a Comeback:
Need for Human Interaction
Human interaction has certainly dwindled since the invention of smart phones. Who needs to have a face-to-face conversation when you can text? “Our relationship with technology affects how we communicate. But it also affects the deeper ways we interact and connect with people,” said Dr. Sherry Turkle, professor of social studies of science and technology at MIT and author of “Reclaiming Conversation.” Although smart devices have changed the way we manage our lives and access information, they have also dissolved human-to-human interactions. Board games help younger generations interact with one another, establish better relationships, and build self-esteem. Today, bars and cafes are two examples of businesses that promote some level of human interaction. For example, Draught, a bar in London, England provides over 800 board games for their customers to play. Players lounge at the tables, interact with family, friends, or absolute strangers over an appetizer and a pint of beer.
Team Building and Break Rooms
Board games provide a great option for building team chemistry. Incorporating board games into team building activities can be an effective solution to boost team production and synergy. Jenga is a perfect example of a board game that incorporates a team building problem solving scenario. In one of our last blog posts, we suggested using Organizational Jenga as an activity to help build team problem solving skills. The objective of the activity is to decide which organizational roles (Finance, Accounting, HR, Management, Executives) are “not important” while deconstructing the structure without it falling. Team building activities have resulted in more workplace interaction and board games are a perfect fit for any team building activity. Put a board game in the lunchroom or breakroom for employees to make progress on day-to-day, so employees feel like they can work on the activity on their own time rather than a prescribed time.
New Service Offering for Bars, Cafes, and Restaurants
Board games are helping attract more people into bars, cafes, and restaurants. The board game scene is taking the food and beverage industry by storm as businesses differentiate themselves from the competition. From Europe to the United States, restaurants, bars and cafes are adding board games to their service offering. Board games offer participants a chance to connect and interact with friends, family, colleagues, and even meet new people. Currently, restaurants face table-turning profit problems, as customers take up tables for hours at a time, and in some cases are not purchasing food or beverages. Some restaurants such as Pieces in St. Louis, Missouri, offer a whole library of board games for their customers to choose from. To counter issues with table turnover profits, they charge a $5 library fee per person, and reduce that fee by $1 for every food or beverage purchased.
With digital technologies consuming our everyday lives, a break from technology is needed from time-to-time. People are looking for ways to unplug, digital detox, and interact with other human beings. American Adults spend an average of 11 hours per day interacting with technology. Of those hours, adults spend over three hours on computers, tablets, and smartphones. Our lives are consumed by technology and the numbers show that we need more human interaction. Board games provide this escape from technology. Set the phones aside, close the laptops, place the PC on sleep mode, and hit the tabletop for some board games with family and friends.
Parents spend over 40 hours a week commuting, working and raising kids while children and adolescents are consumed by school, homework, video games, friends and their mobile devices. The little time spent at home calls for wholesome family time around the dinner table. Board games can become an extension of dinner time with the family—allowing for opportunities to discuss the day as the whole family dives into a new adventure. Since many video and virtual reality games are made for one or two players, board games provide a multi-player group experience, making it an ideal option for family night. Drop the devices and reach into the closet for Jenga, Sorry, or Cards Against Humanity, and enjoy some good ol’ wholesome family time.
Let’s face it, life can be stressful. A board game can help distract from stressful, invading thoughts and recalibrate our mind as it focuses on a new adventure, story, or challenge. A game that involves multiple players, provides social interaction and lots of laughs can be a great solution for reducing stress levels.
Board games release endorphins that make us feel happy. Board games bring people closer together, creating stronger bonds with family and friends, and potentially spark new friendships.
Goal Setting and Patience
Board games provide us with opportunities to set goals, either individually, or as a team, depending on the game and its rules. Winning is about patience and strategy. Understanding the rules, timing, player skill levels, and game navigation are keys to winning in board games. Every day we set goals (whether they’re conscious or subconscious) and apply some level of patience during work or while raising kids. Board games provide an opportunity to work on goals and patience where mistakes only cost a turn, move, or roll of the dice.
Health awareness has become more personalized over time. In a day and age where technology such as Fitbits and mobile health apps provide us with instant access to personal health, awareness for partaking in healthy activities is more prevalent than ever before. Board games provide a mental escape from stress and a break from the potentially harmful blue light from our screens.
Drink and Play
Many people like to gather socially and have an adult beverage or two. Throwing in board games during a social outing can provide a fun activity to work on as a group. Board games in social settings help stimulate conversation, laughter, and critical thinking. The drink-and-play experience is a more constructive and stimulating social outing.
Board Games FAQ
How do board games help child development?
Board games are important for a child’s development. As children build their skills in reasoning, verbal communication, patience, sharing, interaction, and problem solving, they also have fun. It is important for the child to enjoy the experience, that way they are more engaged, and they are more willing to learn how to harness skills without being discouraged.
When did board games become popular?
Dating back as early as 5,000 BC, the first set of game pieces were found in Turkey. The game featured a series of 49 carved and painted stones similar to the modern day dice, and similar artifacts have been found throughout the Middle East and Nile River basin. The longest-running board game is thought to be The Royal Game of Ur, which dates back to 2650 BC and was recently played by a school teacher, according to entrepreneur Peter Attia. It was a game played in the Middle East similar to Backgammon, with a game board and pieces. The game was also discovered in Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb.
How many Monopoly games are sold each year?
Monopoly was patented on December 31, 1935. Since its release to the public, the board game has sold over 250 million copies worldwide and has been translated to over 37 languages. That equates to an average of just over 3 million copies sold each year.