In golden age of board games, take a turn as host


By Marie Elizabeth Oliver | Special to the Washington Post

Growing up, everyone in my family received a board game for Christmas. We’d spend the lazy days that followed jumping in and out of mysterious worlds, word puzzles and intricate versions of charades. But as we grew up and moved out, the fading stacks of cardboard began collecting dust, and Netflix took over as our new post-holiday ritual. That was, until a few years ago.

Inspired by an excuse to indulge in spiced rum cocktails and bored with our streaming queue, my siblings and I invited out-of-town cousins over to our parents’ house, broke out some of the old standbys, and started a new holiday tradition that resulted in us adding a few games to our adult Christmas lists.

Apparently, we’re not alone.

“By our calculations, we are in the golden age of board games,” says Kyle Engen, founder and steward of operations at the Interactive Museum of Gaming and Puzzlery.

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Matthew Hudak, toys and games analyst with Euromonitor International, agrees, citing a recent market report that sales of games and puzzles grew by 15 percent in 2016. “It’s something that has been bubbling up for years now, but 2016 was the most influential year for board games,” he says. “It’s massive. There were more than 5,000 board games introduced into the U.S. market last year.”

According to Hudak, traditional board games are still the bulk of the market, but hobby board games, catered for adults, pushed the category’s growth to the next level. “It’s become a new go-to social activity,” he adds.

There’s plenty of speculation about who or what is driving the boom — video games, the Internet, millennials preferring to socialize at home — but Barry “BJ” Rozas, a lawyer from Louisiana who moonlights as a board game reviewer, says it comes down to one thing: “Today’s games are better.”

Rozas, a veteran gamer who created the blog Board Game Gumbo to share his passion for hobby games, credits creative game designers with getting people excited about board games again. Some of his favorites for beginners include Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne and Pandemic.

“Very few people ask me for Candy Land anymore,” says Kathleen Donahue, owner of popular game shop Labyrinth in Washington, D.C. “People come in and say, ‘I’ve been playing Pandemic lately and I love it. Do you have any other recommendations?’ ”

One of this year’s biggest sellers, Codenames, is a perfect party game, Donahue says. “Everyone who came to my Christmas Eve dinner loved it,” she says. “My stepson, my mom, my college roommate, my 10-year-old son.”

That leads her to one of the other benefits of incorporating a board game into your next gathering: “Games give that framework to interact with people in an easy manner,” Donahue says. “The rules have already been set up, so you can be in a social situation and relate to people …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News

      

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