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08/22/13

Bored Games: Does Anyone Still Buy Or Play Board Games?

The rise of video games and eventually smart phones, smarter computers and technology in general turned classic, popular board games into relics, a form of entertainment that belongs in a museum and only celebrated as ancient history.
Certainly board games waned significantly in popularity in recent years. The generation of kids who grew up playing "Candy land," and "Chutes and Ladders" now sit fixated on their Amazon Kindle or Apple iPhone. Their kids probably think "Candy land" is a place and not a board game.
If "video killed the radio star," then video games killed board game. But, are board games really dead or simply hanging by a thread? The answer to both is a surprising no.
A recent resurgence in board games and board game sales point to a segment of the population that use these supposed ancient forms of entertainment as more of a social gathering, a way to interact with other friends, co-workers or perhaps a fun-filled couples' night. "Candy land" probably doesn't make it to the top of the list for game night but that's not to say that sales of chess, checkers, Clue or Monopoly haven't emerged relatively unscathed after surviving the Sky Net type debacle that was technology.
Technology will continue to evolve, get better and make life easier. But the notion that spending countless hours on a cell phone or fervently using a tablet doesn't create a certain discontent or "burnout" between man and machine is ridiculous. Board games offer a much-needed respite, a reason to put down those devices and slowly initializing your brain back into society.

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Some studies show that the increase in sales of board games is directly related to a new app being released that mirrors that of the tangible game. For example, the ultra-popular "Words With Friends" app is simply moonlighting as a version of Scrabble. But the release of "Words With Friends" helped the sales of the traditional Scrabble board game. Again, this probably points back to getting a group of people together to play Scrabble but aren't exactly thrilled about hosting a party with everyone playing on their phones.
Monopoly still remains nearly as popular as it was some 20 years ago and sales remain steady for the iconic board game, which gets plenty of marketing play through an association with fast-food mogul McDonald's. You could easily draw the conclusion that pioneer games like Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit proved to be the inspiration and catalyst for all these online games and tablet apps. A new demographic simply ditched the cardboard game board for a sleek smart phone, but the same principle still applies.
Those hard, board games simply refuse to completely relinquish the entire market share to technology and that penchant for protecting their piece of the gaming pie is admirable. Board games have weathered the storm and emerged better off as a result.
Game on, everyone.

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