May 19th, 2015

Why Board Games Are Back

board-game-529586_1280I’m not a long-time lover of the hobby but I fell hard and fast for it recently. By total luck, right now happens to the most exciting time to be a board gaming enthusiast. When most people think of “tabletop” games they think of either casino gambling, antiquated board games like Clue or Monopoly, or worst of all, the fantasy dice games from the 1980s, often stigmatized as being played by Middle Earth-loving, Dungeons & Dragons outcasts. Well, that’s changing. A lot of cross-pollination has been going on recently, putting us in a new golden age of social table games.

For me it started a little over a year ago. On a total whim, I was in Christiana Mall and picked up a strange and clever-looking game: Forbidden Island—a cooperative game where the players work together to collect treasures on a sinking island. I was summarily swallowed alive by this new world of what is now called “modern tabletop gaming.”

Wil Wheaton of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” fame is exhibit A. He has over one million Youtube subscribers for his weekly internet show “TableTop” where he plays card, dice, and board games with B-list actors and internet celebrities. Exhibit B is the spike in sales. Since 2012, annual industry-wide sales have gone up 10-20% by major companies, and attendance at gaming conventions have increased by thousands. Some of the reason for their success is sheer business—brilliant designers making fresh games. These companies have a broad spectrum of games appealing to diehard-gamers and non-gamers alike. Some are inexpensive, easy-to-learn, 30-minute family games while some are hundred dollar behemoths taking hours to learn and hours to play.

But why is this blowing up now? Exhibit C: I think there is evidence accruing that people are tired of their technology. Friends who only see each other on Facebook and social media are beginning to quietly revolt. Humans are social animals, and rather than spending hours playing XBOX or texting each other, there is a movement gaining momentum for in-person gaming. Tabletop gaming scratches that itch for families and friends alike.

For proof, I urge you to go to Barnes and Noble or Target and just look at how retailers are responding to the evolution. Games that were never carried 5-7 years ago now pack the shelves. Instead of just Apples to Apples and Risk, retailers are now carrying elegant, creative games with quality components, knock-out artwork, and unique game mechanics. You’ll find games like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Zombicide, Sheriff of Nottingham, King of Tokyo, and Sushi Go!

If you’re a geeky adult, or have kids over eight, you should consider reaping the benefits of this new golden age. And if you want to try to win one of these games, attend the 4th Annual all-ages sci-fi and fantasy event “Magic, Space, & Swords!” this August for your chance to go home with one of these boxes of fun. Don’t forget to check out “The Dice Tower” on Youtube for weekly reviews, or for industry news, trends, and ratings.

Lastly, Mr. Matt, that’s me, will be exhibiting family-friendly card games at the Library Con on Saturday June 6 from 10am-12pm at the Perryville Branch. Come play a sample game!

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April 30th, 2010

Summer Wii Gaming Tournament

What do teens in Cecil County do when the final bell rings and school is out for the summer? Camps, sports, family vacations, and summer reading are all great ways to pass the summer months, and now the library has another fun summer activity for teens. The County-Wide Wii Gaming Tournament will be open to all teens ages 11 to 18 and will take place from June to September. Teens can play in three play-off games at their branch libraries, competing with their friends for the best scores in Guitar Hero, Mario Kart, and Super Smash Bros. The top scorers in each game from each branch will face each other in the championship games at the Elkton Central Library in September. The teens with the top scores in each game will be named the Wii Champions of Cecil County and walk away with an awesome prize!  Click here to read more.

But great prizes aren’t the only reason to get into gaming. Studies show that video games can improve hand-eye coordination and friendly competitions can teach teens sportsmanship and fair play. And who wouldn’t like to spend an hour rocking out to Guitar Hero in an air-conditioned library in the hot summer months? When the temperature soars and you can’t imagine digging in the garden or chasing a soccer ball up and down the yard, join us for some games at the library or invite your neighbors over for your own gaming tournament.

What kind of gaming systems do you prefer? Are you into top-of-the-line systems with all the bells and whistles, or are you more old-fashioned and prefer to pull out the Scrabble board or spend a few hours playing Monopoly? What games will you play with your family this summer?

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