The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

In time of economic uncertainty, people take fewer risks and retreat to the familiar. So it shouldn't be a surprise that traditional board games, long derided for being too low-tech, are experiencing a sales surge.

But I'm skeptical about all the claims made in this article. So board game sales have experienced an increase--so what? They've been in the pits for years. Naturally, any uptick is going to seem huge. I wouldn't call it the second coming of Monopoly.

And what's this about electronic games?

Electronic games, usually played by one person, were popular in the mid-'90s, experts say, but board games can be played by a group, making them more value-for-money.

Have these "experts" ever played a modern-day video game? It sounds like they're fixated on the 1970s-era Mattel Electronic Football or something. You can play games like The Sims with your entire household, or with millions of people on the Internet now. Board games create more of an intimate communal gathering, but they're not the only way to get people together.

Bottom line, I think this is a bit of puffery. Any sales spike the board game niche is experiencing will disappear once the economy picks up, and then they'll be back in their usual downward spiral.