It’s happened everyone. We have let our instinctual gamer competitiveness get the better of us. I’ve seen a number of articles fall prey to a few misconceptions, the first of which is that board games and video games are fighting a battle for gamers affection. A battle both in terms of delivering a superior game experience and in popularity. Going further down the rabbit hole, without a mere Google search of investigation, many perceive that with the increasing popularity of smart phones and other devices, the future of board games looks grim. These are not the right conclusions to make. The experience people have using their tablet or playing a video game is different enough from board games in that consumers purchasing habits do not reflect that these items are substitute goods. The continued growth of the board game industry proves that.
Past and present game sales do not reflect a future decline in board games popularity. Board game sales have reported an increase by close to ten percent a year for the past decade, despite sharing that decade with the rise of smart phones and online gaming. Notable board game convention, Gen Con hit a record attendance of 159,364 people, and unique attendance of 49,058 in 2013. This year marked a 75% growth over the past five years. Gamers have shown that there is plenty of room for the new and the old. Why has the board game industry been increasing? I agree that board games are getting better, but disagree with conclusions of their increased quality being responsible for their growth. Board game sales have increased for the same reason there is the false perception that it’s struggling: because of smartphones and the internet.
Let’s say over the years you have heard that Ticket to Ride is a fantastic board game and you purchase that game on your iPad as a companion to your other, non board game related iOS games. Finding yourself with a group of people at your house, you place the iPad in the center of the table and you all begin to play. The game itself is identical to its board game counterpart, let’s even say that everyone involved is having a fantastic time, laughing, planning out ways to foil one another’s plans. You essentially all played a video game, but had the same experience as you would have playing the actual board game itself. Wrong.
Board games are not simply special because the games that you can play in board game form are unique. They are not simply special because they instigate players to open themselves up to interact with one another in a more physical sense than video games. What makes a board game special and extremely difficult to recreate in video game form, is the beauty of the games physicality. Having all of the games wonderful components spread out across the table, holding all the dice in your hand and giving them a good shake as you drop them on the table; these elements are impossible to capture in video game form. The pixels of a video game can come together to create amazing art, but cannot recreate the feeling of weight in a board games carefully crafted miniatures, or the assortment of the games components in its box. Everything fitting together, hand in mitten.
When you purchase Ticket to Ride iOS or any other board game in digital form, that creates an incentive for you to buy the board game version. When you search through the various apps available for download on your smartphone or tablet PC, you see that the board game Ticket to Ride is available as an app. You and a million others are now aware that Ticket to Ride the board game exists. This is not a competition between board games and video games; it is not a competition between board games and technology. This is a story of how new technology has exponentially increased our exposure to new and exciting games, offering new ways for people to discover the tabletop games we love, which consumers then seek to play in the games original, tabletop form.
Happy Mitten Games
Shut Up & Sit Down- http://www.shutupandsitdown.com/videos/v/board-game-golden-age-talk/
Gen Con- http://www.gencon.com/press/postshow2013
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