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The big kids want to play, too

by Evan | Jul 10, 2017

The only way in which I've ever been anything like a trend-setter is in playing board games for grown-ups before they started to catch on. It's still a niche hobby, but news reports have been coming out for a few years now with themes along the lines of, "Wow, there are a bunch of modern board games you can play that are a lot better than Monopoly!"

Here's a recent article from Detroit about people who teach people to play them at bars. Here's one about a game store in North Carolina where people gather to play. (There are at least two such stores in Fort Wayne.) 

And the library has a new book -- It's All a Game by Tristan Donovan -- that tells the story of board games from the time before written records to their 21st century renaissance. 

Part of the story today is that board games are thriving even though electronic games are a much bigger market. Another part is that there are crossovers, with good board games turned into good apps (Carcassone) and good computer games turned into good board games (Sid Meier's Civilization). 

I'm using the term "grown-ups" because the phrase "adult games" implies risque themes. Those show up a little bit in new games, but mostly in party games such as Cards Against Humanity, or in some of the artwork tied to role playing games.

By contrast, the modern board game hobby owes its momentum to European game designers who want to make challenging games for the whole family -- or at least those members who have "grown up" enough to play them. The Settlers of Catan gets credit as the breakthrough game that revolutionized the hobby in the 1990s, but, in my opinion, many better games are available today.

We American males of a certain age got into the hobby decades ago mostly through war games, although there have long been a few good American games, such as the business game Acquire, that also appealed to women. When I went to game conventions in the 1970s, I doubt even 10 percent of attendees were women; now I'd say it's more than 30 percent. 

In the months ahead, I hope to write blog posts about some of the best modern games, but, for now, if you like to browse, I encourage you to visit Board Game Geek. It has articles on just about any board game you can name -- and thousands more that you can't. Have fun. 

EvanEvan - Married, three children, two grandchildren, formerly a newspaper journalist, now a public librarian, at all times a board game nut.
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