In this world of high-speed internet, immersive open-world games, and instant communication between people all over the world, it’s funny how some traditional pastimes are still going strong. Against all odds, tabletop gaming has undergone an incredible resurgence over the last ten years, despite the rapidly advancing tech scene going on around it. The question is, can board games continue to thrive as the gaming industry grows ever more advanced? Or do they need to incorporate new tech in order to survive?
The Resurgence of Board Games
In 2020, sales of board games in the UK went up by 240 percent, as families turned to old school gaming as a way to bond and keep busy. This upturn in sales could have been a long time coming, though, as the tabletop gaming industry has actually been enjoying a resurgence for some time now.
This has come about thanks partly to the rise of board game cafes. These old school gaming zones are rapidly becoming one of the world’s coolest hangout spots, thanks to their chilled out vibes and the way they keep things simple. These places are cropping up in cities all over the world, with a reported 200 board game cafes in Beijing alone.
In most of these cafes, players sit down, choose a game box and play tabletop games just as people did 50 years ago. There is a surprising lack of technology involved for a 21st-century social setting. But they work. This could be down to the fact that social media and online multiplayer gaming has limited face-to-face interaction, and people are feeling a stronger desire to counteract this.
How Some Games Have Adapted for Tech
Some games that were popular prior to the internet era had to adapt in order to flourish in this new world of gaming. Chess, for instance, has been given a new lease of life on the internet. The game has been played for hundreds of years, but it has never quite made it into mainstream culture in the west. This could be changing, though, with sites like Chess.com attracting more players than ever before. There was even a recent television series about the game on Netflix. The Queen’s Gambit was an unprecedented success and is one of the streaming service’s most popular offerings ever.
Other tabletop games that have enjoyed success from going digital include blackjack, craps, and three-card poker. These are a few of the many free table games that can be found online, alongside other computerised versions of table classics like roulette and baccarat. There are also digital renditions of a number of iconic board games that give modern players a chance to experience them in a different way. Games like Monopoly, Scrabble, and Risk, all have online apps that have proven to be extremely popular. The only difference between all of these games and their live counterparts is the lack of human interaction when playing.
Table Top Games Could Make Use of AR
The ideal scenario could be to combine the technological developments of tabletop games with live play. People still want to sit and socialise while enjoying a board game, but would probably be open to the idea of improving the game with some new digital elements.
This is where augmented reality is likely to come in. By wearing an AR headset, users are able to see digitalised components superimposed on their real-life surroundings. The tech is expected to boom in the years ahead and will be used in a number of sectors. This could bring a whole host of new possibilities to tabletop games. For example, in Risk or Warhammer, AR renditions of the characters could be seen to actually do battle in front of the players’ eyes.
The return of board games has been hugely impressive, but the question is whether the genre’s popularity is sustainable in the rapidly progressing tech landscape. The best way to secure the future of tabletop games could be to combine digital elements with live play.