Many thought tabletop games would vanish. They thought that in a digital age, where people have fixated their eyes upon mobile and immobile screens, people thought it would get lost in the cupboards, amongst the antiquities of the world.
Tabletop games experienced their golden age in the 90’s, when the only screen people’s eyes were glued on was a television set.
Tabletops offered an alternative, a more social, engaging yet competitive experience, with Magic: The Gathering, Risk, Monopoly, UNO, Cranium, and Pokemon: Trading Card Game winning over people’s hearts. Not to mention the role-playing games of Dungeons & Dragons and the miniature wargame of Warhammer, pioneers in their own categories that appeared in the 70’s and 80’s respectively.
But just like every other golden age, they came and they left. For a while, the interest in tabletops had dwindled greatly. From being a billion dollar industry, their worth fell to below half of their greatness.
It was time for a new golden age – video games. Many board games hopped on to the digital arena, transferring their unique gameplay for people to play with their friends online.
But it was not the same. It was missing something; something elusive. A feeling that cannot be replicated anywhere else. And tabletop brands and fans alike, were not going to let this uniqueness be locked up in some dusty cupboard.
Here are reasons why:
Some games has been consistent throughout the ages, and has become a brand in its own right. These are games that has been passed down through the ages.
Monopoly is one of them. At 80 years old, it is still going on strong, not changing their mechanics, save for a few different variations. And it’s still being played by families. Compare this to giving a modern age kid a video game made 20 years ago and the next time you’ll see it, it’s in the trash.
Friendship & The Gathering of Players
Many people have said that the difficulty with tabletop games is the need to gather people together. But truly, that’s the beauty of it.
Many tabletop games has brought people together, creating friendships and also breaking them, and even helped to by becoming an entity that broughts communities together.
A feeling that cannot be replicated
It’s in the touch of throwing your dice, the anticipation of getting the numbers that you need. It’s in the interaction, the cursing, the victorious chants, the groans of defeat, the intensity of debating predicaments back and forth, which were not distinctly explained in the rule book.
And Sadie Rogers portrayed it well in her short film, titled RPG, which is a dramatic story about a group of people playing Dungeons & Dragons:
How did it became popular again?
It’s easier to own tabletop games nowadays. The virtual space has allowed it to flourish. Platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and AACGC (All Aboard Community Gaming Centre) has given people the chance to create, promote, and sell their games to the masses.
Earlier this year, Hasbro teamed up with indiegogo to give five game designers to win 17,000 pounds to bring their ideas to life.
Through the trend of coffee, tabletop fans found an opportunity to give coffee lovers something to do while their having a cup. But that’s not the only reason. Tabletop games can be expensive. And to go to cafes and paying by hour, game, or person, makes it less taxing compared to buying the game, which the most expensive can come up close to RM500.
The appearance of board games in famous TV shows has also played a big part of their rise. With shows like Big Bang Theory mentioning multiple games. Not to mention that Netflix’s Stranger Things began with the main characters playing a game of Dungeons & Dragons. And the game was used in certain parts throughout the show.
Once, it was popular to watch other people play video games. Now, it’s popular to watch other people play board games. Channels like “Beer & Board Games”, “TableTop”, “Table Flip” and “Yogscast Game Night”, all have views that range from 16k to 900k.
This is probably the most obvious answer. But there’s a new way of playing a board game.
Rob Daviau, a game designer who was working on Cluedo and multiple versions of RISK, created a new genre during his time there. He calls it “Legacy” and unlike other board games, this one is a campaign that can only be played a specific number of times.
Every time you finish a game, new scenarios will await you in the next one, all the way until the board is full. And once it’s done, you frame it up to remember the thrills that came with the game.
In the past, tabletop games would be recreated into a video game. And now the table has been turned. Video games like Starcraft, XCOM, and even League of Legends, have created tabletop games of their own.
The beauty of tabletop games is that it reaches out to every kind of geek out there. And truly, there is a geek in all of us. And it seems like the board game industry will only get better and better, as they enter yet another golden age.
And it has come to no surprise as to why Malaysians are starting to create their own tabletop games:
THE LEPAK GAME
Brought to you by Rojak Culture
Brought to you by Loyar Barang
L.E.A.D. BOARD GAME
Brought to you by The Alphabet Press
P.S. All Aboard Community Gaming Centre will be organizing a board game convention sometime at the end of this year, where they will be promoting tabletop games that are created by locals, and also those in the international market.
How would you brand a tabletop game?
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