Tabletop games gain new fans in backlash against video culture

Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:13am EDT
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By Daniel Kelly

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - When Justin Becker moved into a new home in south Philadelphia, he set the TV and video games in the unfinished basement, leaving his three children free to go down and watch when they wanted. The board games stayed upstairs in the living room.

It was all part of a subtle trick that he hoped would help his family connect.

“Television and video games are more like solo activities,” Becker said. “We lost out on quality time and we saw this as a chance to start over in the new house.”

Becker, a 30-year-old stay-at-home dad with children aged 7, 4 and 2, is part of what appears to be a growing trend of people turning to so-called tabletop games as a social alternative to screen time. The category includes board games like Candyland, a favorite in the Becker household, and card games like Cards Against Humanity.

Hasbro Inc, maker of old standbys like Monopoly and Risk, says that revenue for its line of games increased 10 percent between 2012 and 2013, and would have grown 7 percent in 2014 if not for unfavorable foreign currency conversions.

Anecdotal reports also point toward an upswing. Insiders say publishers devoted to the games are flourishing, thanks to access to crowd-sourced financing and the proven popularity of games like Settlers of Catan.

Last year, attendance the Origins Game Fair run by the Game Manufacturers Association grew by 13 percent to 39,000, said John Ward, the trade association’s executive director.

Ward says simple economics are also a factor. “You can buy a couple of cool board games for $20 or $40,” he says. “You can’t take your family to the movies at that price.   Continued...