Board Game Stores Thrive in 21st Century, Provide Customers With 'Anti-Tech' Activities

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Mar. 3, 2014 12:00 am  

It may be hard to believe, in a world of photorealistic video games and constant entertainment via tablets and smartphones, that the old standard of games printed on paper and cardboard can be successful.

But it is — and increasingly so.

John Ward, executive director of the Game Manufacturers Association, said board game sales have been rising by about 20 percent each year during the past few.

“When you look at things like Kickstarter, in 2013, [board] games people invested in accounted for over $120 million,” he said. “The next category down was $80 million, and that was film and video. The industry as a whole has had a really good surge the last couple of years.”

Why the surge?

Ward said, “There’s no magic bullet. There’s a combination of factors.”

One, for example, would be the economy adjusting to recent downturns.

“When you buy a board game, it’s about a price point of $40 to $45, and you can play it all winter long,” Ward said. “If you take your whole family to a movie, you’ll spend $100 to $125, almost.”

He also mentioned that for people approaching middle age, there’s a nostalgia associated with sitting around a table with a social game.

Finally, there’s the assimilation of “geek” culture, which has been the traditional market for niche board games, into the mainstream.

These trends are reflected in the success of local game shops.

Imagine! Hobbies & Games, for example, started in 2002 in a 900-SF spot in downtown Clinton. Co-owners Jay Morgan and Gretchen Butler had a 1-inch binder of Magic: The Gathering cards and some eBay sales to their names. In 2005, they moved to Sherwood with $3,000, enough money to stay open for perhaps a month.



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