Zachary Horton, Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburg’s English Department, states that board games are experiencing a renaissance – an especially intriguing claim in a world that heavily relies on technology.
Could there possibly be any truth to this professor’s words? Let’s find out.
Who Is Zachary Horton?
The professor, who studies forms of media, including board games, taught the first board game class at the University of Pittsburg in 2019. Titled 'Post-Digital Gaming', the class covered many board games dating from the 70s till the present day.
Apart from that, even before lockdown protocols forced people to turn towards board games, Horton and his pals from the university gathered to play these games together. As expected, he was quick to jump on the trend of playing board games remotely once the pandemic hit, and even started hosting his own gaming groups.
Game Trends Then and Now
According to Horton, board games never lost their popularity and have been around for over five thousand years, starting from Mesopotamia and Egypt. Ancient games, he claims, fall into the category of war or race games, the latter based highly upon luck. On the other hand, war games were tactical and involved moving pieces around, like Draughts or Chess.
After the second world war, the economic boom that followed permitted the production of colorful board games, and people who now had disposable wealth bought them duly for some fun family time. The 90s were met with German board games' infiltration into the US economy targeted towards the adult public. These included the Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne.
Hobby Games: The Rising Trend
Family-oriented games are now a thing of the past, and hobby games are quickly taking charge of the board game industry. These games are based on cooperation, with players working to defeat the game itself. People love tangible things, the presence of which can be felt. Recent years saw the popularity of games that come with miniature figures to be played on tabletops.
According to Polygon, Kickstarter campaigns continue witnessing a preference for tabletop games, with fans having pledged $176 million in 2019, while video-game fans pledged only $16 million.
One Final Thought
The question remains – why are people so interested in board games with countless video games in production every year?
Horton tracks the re-emergence of board games to the time social media and smartphones were on the rise. He claims that the popularity of board games lies in people’s need for physical and social connections. If we correlated his claims to lockdown trends, we’ll see their validity. During the lockdown, people soon got fed up with technology and turned towards playing board games with friends or family. Those quarantining also found a way around the barrier and opted for digital versions of these games to play remotely.