Far from Boring – Why Board Games and Other Classics are Booming in Popularity

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Far from Boring – Why Board Games and Other Classics are Booming in Popularity

Technology has moved rapidly forward over the last few decades, and it has led to major advancements in gaming. You only have to look at the massive difference between Atari’s Pong in 1972 and Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption II in 2018 to see how swift and drastic the progress has been. Despite these huge changes, some classic games of old refuse to be cast aside and instead are enduring and thriving in the modern age. Board game cafes have spiked in popularity, while other old school games have been given digital makeovers for millennials. It is an exciting time for the gaming industry, as iconic games of old are being revamped with new technology and fresh ways of playing. Here we take a look at why this has happened, and how cities like Leeds are leading the revolution.

The Rise of Board Game Cafes

In the last few years board games have been enjoying a renaissance, with a 20 percent rise in the sale of tabletop games recorded in 2016 marking the beginnings of this new era. This data, measured by market research group NPD, included card and dice games, board games, and role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. Board games have been referred to by some as the original forms of social networking, long predating sites like Facebook and Myspace, or game streaming offerings like Twitch.

Board game cafes have been cropping up across the UK in various locations as the craze continues to sweep the world. Leeds has a number of places for keen social gamers to frequent, with Travelling Man being one of the leading comic and game shops in the north of the country. The shop is easy to locate, and is about halfway between the train station and the Playhouse. The founder, Nabil Homsi, says that board gaming is more popular now than ever. According to the owner of the shop, which opens on various nights of the week for gaming tournaments, players are beginning to realise how vast the world of tabletop gaming is. When talking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, he said, “There are games centred on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, fantasy games like Talisman and Catan and other “gateway” games which make people realise there’s more to that world than just Monopoly.”

Board game cafes appeal to people who like the nostalgia of classic gaming, but also to those who feel that the internet age has brought about unwanted changes in the way people communicate. Too much conversation is done in chat applications like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, rather than face to face. Board game cafes have brought about a way for people to socialise while having fun, and they are proving to be extremely well-liked hangout spots.

Classic Games Getting Digital Counterparts

While board games are at the height of their popularity at the moment, this may not last forever. Another way that classic games have managed to endure in the computer age is by getting revamped digital counterparts. Card games have long been an ideal game to play from the computer screen, with offerings like solitaire and hearts appearing on some of the earliest forms of Windows. Chess and checkers have also been played on computers for many years due to their simple game design. Board games have followed suit, particularly during the rise of mobile gaming on gadgets like smartphones and tablets during the turn of the decade. In fact, nearly every game which has existed in a physical format now has an online version, and this will help the titles to live on for many years to come.

Face-to-face games have been easily transferred online, thanks to the internet, because it has allowed people from all over the world to meet in the same place to play – albeit without currently being able to look into one another’s eyes. Some games have flourished since they have been made digital, and have become more popular than ever. Poker, for example, only really became big after the advent of online poker rooms in the mid-2000s. The internet brought about a whole new way of playing the game, which was more probability-focused. Blackjack has also undergone changes, and the online world has made more varieties of the game available to players. At Betway, for instance, there are American Blackjack, European Blackjack, and live versions of the game. Board games have been translated to digital well, with there being a number of different Monopoly-inspired games to choose from for various platforms. One of the best offerings is Monopoly Plus from Ubisoft, which can be played on Xbox One. Aside from the classic game founded by the Parker Brothers in 1935, games like Risk, Scrabble, Cluedo, and Snakes and Ladders can all be found in digital format.

With board game cafes on the rise along with the classic games played in them having digital versions already, the next step could be to introduce new ways of playing those games in the same social environments. One of the most exciting ideas is the concept of an augmented reality board on which players can play various games. Live Gameboard has already introduced this, and it could be the next big thing.

Leeds has got the right idea in getting to the forefront of the board game renaissance, but the café and shop owners need to make sure they keep up to date with developments in technology and new ways of playing the games. If they manage to do this, there is no telling how big this old school game revolution can become.

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