Table games enjoy surge in popularity
'Before Video Game entertainment was invented in the early '90s, people used to invest a lot of their free time in playing board games,' says the Web site e-Karjala (ekarj.com).
But board games are showing signs of resurgence. NPD Group, one of the world's largest consumer and retail market research companies, cites a 7 percent sales increase for board games in 2006 over 2005. Take that, 'Halo3.'
Could it be that we are craving human contact in an impersonal, digital age?
'Imagine, people actually having to see and talk to other people,' quipped Kate Sigford, a University of California at Davis med student.
Sigford is building a railroad while
attempting to outmaneuver three other living, breathing humans in one of the most popular modern board games, Ticket To Ride. She's among two dozen board-game enthusiasts who gather each week at Crepeville, a Sacramento, Calif., restaurant.
'Social interaction is probably what has helped rejuvenate board-game activities,' says Tony Elam, an expert on board games whose day job is executive director of strategic initiatives at Baylor College of Medicine.
Elam has one of the country's largest board-game collections, more than 6,500 games stacked in spare bedrooms and rented storage spaces. Of all those titles, his personal favorites are Crokinole, Cosmic Encounter, Puerto Rico and Call My Bluff.
According to Elam, 'board game' is a loose term that includes games using dice, tokens or specialty cards, with or without a board.
'Generically speaking, it's a board game if you sit around the table to play it,' Elam says. But he excludes gambling games from the definition.
Board game sales have been mostly hot since 2000, warming with the 'nesting,' then 'hiving' and now 'insperiences' movements following 9/11. Classics such as Monopoly and Scrabble continue to be family favorites, but contemporary aficionados prefer modern games played in cafes, bookstores and coffeehouses.