Where are we now and what’s next?
Helped by the internet, traditional style games, including board, card, dice and tile based games have become increasingly popular. Driven by huge and growing popularity in Europe, especially in Germany, and in America, the hobby is in a very different place to where it was.
The exposure the internet has given traditional gaming has made an enormous difference and allowed smaller companies to reach a much wider audience. The ability for these small niche hobbyists to connect and discuss their passion for gaming has helped this once pilloried pastime to cross over to a much more mainstream audience and has allowed previously isolated groups to meet up both online and in person
It is commonplace now for people to play a board game over the internet with people from across the work and discuss them with like-minded individuals thousands of miles away.
The public's perception of games today is also very different from how it was. Nowadays more families are beginning to understand the value of games and the benefits they can bring. It is not uncommon to see students playing board games in large numbers during free time or on an evening, and the number of gamers continues to grow rapidly.
Games have been seen in popular culture on some of its more popular shows, such as The Big Bang Theory playing Settlers of Catan, and several celebrities have come forward as game addicts, such as Vin Deisel and his love of Dungeons & Dragons.
Strangely to some, games stores have also done very well. There are more game stores now in the UK than there has ever been and, considering the economic climate, that could be seen as a surprise but the range available and number of releases combined with this new positive image and accessibility help to make the market very buoyant.
Stores will always find things tricky, with competition from online retailers, but if they continue to provide a great gaming experience for their players then their future should be in no doubt.
The number of companies manufacturing and designing games has also increased dramatically and although several dominate there are thousands of companies across the world producing a bewildering number of games. Many games, such as Ticket to Ride & Settlers of Catan have crossed over to a mainstream audience, selling millions of copies in a huge number of different languages.
The number of games being translated in to computer games and applications would suggest that they are gaining popularity and companies big and small are being approached to convert their games over to the digital world. The games themselves have evolved far beyond what manufactures could have dreamed of several years ago.
The production quality and components found within modern games can include an incredible array of beautifully designed board, token and figures and have even begun linking with online applications to provide an even deeper and immersive experience.
More players mean its easier for game conventions to both exist and grow and todays conventions are learning the lessons from the old, more niche meet-ups from the past. In fact I am writing this blog from my hotel in Essen, Germany, home of probably the largest game convention in the world.
This huge event, Essen Spiel, attracts tens of thousands of gamers from across the world and is extremely family friendly and can keep you entertained for days. Its four day run will push you to see everything possible within the time allotted and leave you longing for more time.
America has its own goliath event in GenCon, a showcase for hobby game manufacturers, attracting similar numbers but being more gamer orientated.
In the UK, the UK Games Expo is modelling itself on the Essen model and has seen a huge upsurge in numbers over the last few years, helped a little by Imagination Gaming’s family zone activities and the focus on attracting younger gamers and families along for the weekend.
The range of games coming out of late is something to behold though. There are so many wonderful games coming out at the moment that no matter what your preference there’ll be something out there you’ll love. The production standards of today’s games are wonderful and the range of mechanics and styles are simply breath taking.
Here's 5 of our top games at present:
1. Incan Gold
2. Jungle Speed
4. Take It Easy
5. Zeus on the Loose
Theses are just some of the popular games we use in schools and public events across the country on a dailly basis. They combine all the essential ingredients to create very cool and interesting games that help to engage and excite in line with our 'learn to play, play to learn' philosophy. Of course these are just a snippet of a huge array of games that we use and will be adding to this very weekend whilst here in Germany. We look forward to telling you all about them and maybe even playing some of them with you soon!
Hopefully this has given newer gamers out there a quick overview of how the industry started out and has changed. We will be looking a bit more in depth in certain areas soon, chatting with distributors, game store owners and designers about how they make their living and how they see the industry. We’ve another few days to go at the convention in Essen and can’t wait. We’ve already seen several new games we can’t wait to bring back to the UK and try out with unsuspecting students and families!