Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Boardgames this Christmas

With the economy down and kids off from school, game consoles are down in sales, but traditional boardgames like Scrabble and Monopoly are actually way up in sales. They provide a rather cost-effective entertainment, family time, etc.

From the Times (London):

Board games have been forgotten lately, in favour of games consoles and brainteasers such as Su Doku. But now, with the kids on holiday and financially flummoxed families looking for cheap ways to entertain at home, they are winning again.

Initial signs suggest that sales of old stalwarts are enjoying a resurgence this Christmas. According to NPD, the market analysts for the toy industry, Mattel's Scrabble is topping the family games category, with sales up 21 per cent on last year.

In August this year, Monopoly's latest incarnation, Here & Now: The World Edition, launched simultaneously in more than 50 countries and 37 languages. The brand's September sales accounted for 9.6 per cent of the entire UK games market. With the world on its knees, a game where the aim is “to be the only player left after everyone else has gone bankrupt” is finding that the streets are paved with gold.

I know that with my budget I have been focused more on boardgames, particularly Trivial Pursuit (in several versions found at garage sales) with my gf, but also the occasional Scrabble. Then my family for the holidays always likes to play Boggle and Chicken Feet (a particular domino game). I occasionally get a Chess game in with someone, too. I was also just today at the mall thinking about picking up the ancient Chinese (and then Japanese) boardgame, Go. Indeed, boardgames have been around for MILLENIA, and I doubt they will go away anytime soon--as long as there is an economic recession, at least.

Unlike video games, which kids invariably complete and then forget, a good board game can last a lifetime - or longer. Games such as Backgammon, Mancala, Parchisi and Go have been around for thousands of years. Several sets of Senet, the world's oldest known board game dating to around 3500BC, were found in Tutankhamun's tomb.

That's right--you can't get past this post without a bit of history, particularly ancient history. I remember there is an ancient Greek game called "Knuckle-bones" as well. So, here's to boardgames this Christmas and beyond. Many of them are intellectually challenging, but only insofar as you have to out-strategize your fellow players (like Go). Others are part luck, part strategy, and those often level the playing field for everyone.

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