The arrival of the internet and gaming consoles appeared to herald the end of the traditional board game back in the 1990s, but rather than fading away, board gaming has enjoyed a resurgence over the last 20 years, as new generations of players discover the simple joys of getting together with others to play a communal game, offering a completely different experience to the often-isolated world of video gaming.
Some games have thrived in the digital era by moving online to an extent. Blackjack is a classic example of a traditional game that has been reborn in the modern era. Players can now play live blackjack online with real dealers and even interact with their fellow players.
But many traditional table and board games have endured in the digital era without being adapted for online play, and have demonstrated the ongoing appeal of real-world gaming.
One of the world’s most famous board games, Monopoly continues to be played all over the world, and although you can find digital versions of the game and various Monopoly-themed lottery titles, the game itself stands alone, with a core mechanic that has changed little since it was first developed.
Monopoly was developed from The Landlord’s Game, created by Lizzie Magie in 1903, which was originally designed to illustrate unfairness in the US economy. The game of landlords, hotel building and random chance proved to be more popular than expected.
In the early years of the game, players would change and adapt the names of the streets and landmarks on the board, and it is this adaptability that has helped Monopoly to endure. You can find themed Monopoly games covering everything from film franchises to football teams, and players still gather round the famous board to try their luck in the world of property.
Like Monopoly, Risk has been able to endure partly thanks to its adaptability, and there are numerous examples of the game being adapted to appropriate themes. For instance, alongside original Risk, you can play Game of Thrones Risk, Skyrim Risk and Lord of the Rings Risk.
But in many ways, the survival of this game of global conquest is more remarkable than the story of Monopoly, given the great depth and sophistication available to digital strategy gamers. Despite the counter appeals of online gaming, it seems that the dice-throwing game of colorful counters, with its simple rules, is a match for anything that modern digital games designers can come up with.
Settlers of Catan
Settlers of Catan is one of the most famous board games of all, and has sold an incredible 18 million copies since it was released in 1995.
The game involves players competing to colonize a territory by putting down roads, trading goods and building settlements, as they attempt to create the most dominant faction. One of the most significant aspects of the game is the fact that it brings the more cooperative, less confrontational nature of European board gaming to a wider audience.
While players who sit down to play this game are competing, there is more to the game than a simple competition, and this fascinating title has continued to appeal to board gamers throughout the last 25 years, inspiring numerous imitators and expansion games.
Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride has probably played a larger part in the revival of board gaming than any rival game. The game’s basics are straightforward: players gather colored cards, which they then use to position their trains and build connections between the multiple locations on the board. Players receive points for every route they complete during the game, and longer routes are worth more credit. Players also receive extra points at the game’s end if they can link certain locations indicated on their secret cards.
Ticket to Ride may appear to be random when you first play it, but after a few games, you begin to see the pattern. Games between experienced Ticket to Ride players can turn into tense tactical battles as they attempt to build their connections without giving away their final destination.
The game has earned a host of awards since it was released in 2004, and has spawned numerous versions and expansions. Most significantly, perhaps, it has become known as the ‘gateway’ game, engaging new board game players without requiring an enormously long playing time, while remaining challenging for experienced players. As a result, the game has played a pivotal role in ensuring that board games remain a popular pastime in the digital age.