Here’s Why Board Games Have Come Back… Big Time


[MUSIC] Hey everybody, welcome back to Think Tank. Brett and I are gonna talk about the reemergence of tabletop games. And we are years late on this because we’re in the thick of the golden age of board games. They didn’t just start. They didn’t just reemerge. But I’ve been enjoying it for a number of years. We’ve played many board games together. And so I want to talk about some of the reasons that I think this reemergence has happened. Now to start off with I think, I and I think a lot of people got back into board games after childhood thanks to Catan. Or you might know it as Settlers of Catan, which it used to be known as. Which is a modern Euro board game. Of gathering resources and trading and trying to race each other to build up a certain number of monuments.>>But roads can’t cross each other.>>Roads can’t cross each other.>>Up yours,Catan.>>And houses can only be so close.>>Yeah.>>Some reason.>>You know I’d like that to be the case, but in urban areas>>They’re really on top of each other.>>There are zoning issues. Yes. Perhaps Catan is leading us to a better path where there is more green space than in livable areas.>>Interesting.>>So that got people in. And so, have some other examples of games here of my from gigantic collection. Now let’s talk about some basic principles for why I think they came back. I wanna know what you think about these.>>I’d love to hear this, John.>>So, first of all, I think importantly, and for people who don’t play board games now, they may not know this. They are way better than they used to be.>>Yes.>>Old board games, there’s some good ones, generally suck. They were random, you’re just rolling a die and moving.>>Yeah.>>You have very little choice or agency.>>Also, Monopoly, when is it less expensive to rent a house>>Then a hotel room.>>It doesn’t make any sense.>>What the shit, that doesn’t make any sense.>>Yeah, Monopoly teaches you all the wrong things about capitalism, I think.>>Yeah, but maybe now.>>But it’s interesting historically.>>Yeah, it’s so weird.>>Yeah.>>Four houses and now a hotel.>>It’s weird, that like, if you build too many houses together other people start moving into your rooms.>>Just the law, if there’s one house>>In an, on a property. I can charge more. If there’s more houses that’s more supply.>>You’d think.>>That means the price would be lower.>>I don’t think the people who made it necessarily understood real estate. But those games were simplistic and the didn’t->>So the idea is to bankrupt your family members. [CROSSTALK]>>I think we’re focusing a bit too much on the Monopoly.>>Fuck you Monopoly.>>We don’t play a lot of Monopoly anymore, but new games tend to have a lot of player choice and interaction. There is strategy, you can play the game differently. They are much more, like this game Dead of Winter which we played together recently. A cooperative game set in a zombie apocalypse where you all have a goal that you are working towards together. You individually have a secret goal that you are working towards. And there can be a player who’s working against the rest of the group, in secret, but you don’t know for sure until the very end.>>This game will make you want to punch John in the face.>>It will, it will.>>How long it takes him to explain it.>>I wasn’t even the betrayer, but it was worth it.>>But it was so worth it.>>Worth it.>>We were sitting around, going like, John, you brought us this game, it’s 40 minutes later of you describing it, and I just wanna play.>>There are games that are far more complicated to explain. Sometimes you just need to jump in and play.>>Worth it. Dead of Winter. We’ve played it multiple times. It’s so good.>>Yes, yeah. So it’s a complicated explanation. Some games are far more complicated but they can be worth it.>>And the dice on it is, the die is wearing a hat, look at that.>>Which is just cool.>>You don’t get that in normal games.>>Next principle, I think the reason that they’re coming back is, I think we want physical stuff. We want pieces, we want wood and cardboard and paper. Everything we touch is metal and glass now. Everything’s digital, there’s nothing physical there anymore. Nobody knows how to work with their hands, nobody touches any thing that weighs anything. I think that’s why poker came back, I think that’s why board games are coming back. We want to touch real stuff.>>No.>>No?>>I don’t think that poker came back because we wanna touch real stuff.>>Like rounders?>>I think rounders.>>I think it was rounders, yes.>>And we like that element of, a, it’s gambling.>>Mm-hm.>>Like that’s the of thing.>>Which a lot of board games have a push your luck, sorta gambling element.>>I do, I like it though. I think there’s something about it, I cant like essentialize it as we just wanna touch stuff. I think it’s more the social dynamic of people sitting around having something to do.>>That’s also on the list. I agree, I think that people find themselves very separated from each other, we communicate mostly digitally. An excuse to sit around a table, and hopefully put away your phones for a little while, I think that people like that.>>And not have to come up with things to talk about.>>Yeah.>>It’s like a movie [CROSSTALK] Go on a date, to the movie. You’re just like next to someone and it’s dark.>>Yeah.>>And you have a shared experience, you can touch them. You don’t even have to say Say anything. This its like we’re giving you things to say.>>Its a nice background that then allows conversation. Its a shared experience that’s a bit more interactive than something like a movie, its sort of like going to a bar but it gives you an actual activity. When people go to bars, they like to play games at the bars, same reason.>>So Cards Against Humanity.>>Which is not one of my favorite games but it’s gotten a lot of people into board gaming, so I appreciate it.>>You’re such a snob.>>I’m not a snob I’ve played a million games of it, I just, I don’t love it.>>Yeah, especially if you’ve played a million games of it, everyone’s so familiar. But Cards Against Humanity, mirrors life and what you’re looking for in a mate. Because there are givens in life, there are things that happen. It’s how you use them, it’s your profile on them, and it’s your ability to, know someone else. You’re looking for someone who knows you.>>Yes, it is about knowing them, yes.>>Someone who, and then and what I like about board games is it gives you->>And trying to guess what someone else wants.>>Yeah, so it mimics that more than the other games.>>And if you don’t know the person, you can learn about a person through games like that.>>Yeah.>>It has issues, though.>>And it’s in those moments that you add and have fun, around like a structure, and that’s kind of what you’re looking for in a mate.>>Yeah.>>Like there’s other things in your life that are there, and there are rules, it seems like, but someone who has like your approach to it.>>Yeah. And even more specifically, I think I would have a hard time dating someone who is totally not interested in board games, at this point.>>Yeah.>>It’s just too much of what I wanna be doing. Anyway, let’s see, I think also.>>You hear that ladies?>>So I got into this in the beginning, but I think people have been trained, in the past 20 or 30 years, to want agency in their entertainment. We like vegging out and we like watching TV, but we’ve also been playing a lot video games over the course of our life. And video games are entertainment that you direct. You’re making choices and doing stuff and being entertained. We like passive entertainment, but I think that we’re also trained now, to want entertainment that we are collaborating on and making ourselves. And so, for instance, I’m gonna say, this game, Spyfall, this is a party game. It’s very simple. Everybody that’s playing it gets a card saying a particular location, like carnival or a restaurant or something like that.>>Those are locations.>>One person has a card that simply says you’re the spy. And the game is just asking each other questions to figure out, do they know the location, or do they not because of the spy? And the spy is asking questions to try to figure out, where is everybody, because I don’t know where we are. And so through your questions, you’re making the game. It’s entertaining because of what you come up with yourself.>>I want to play that next time, cuz I have no idea what you just said.>>There’s an Archer version of this, actually.>>Really.>>Yes. But anyway.>>Just a moment for John being a real all around great guy. He made an Archer version of a game.>>Love Letter.>>For us, a Love Letter.>>[LAUGH]>>For us, and it’s great. And all the cards have little things on, little.>>Pictures from Archer and stuff.>>And then he made a BioShock version.>>That’s Fallout.>>A Fallout, sorry, a Fallout version of a game, and that->>It’s fun, rethinking board games.>>Ugh.>>Hobby.>>With his hands. [CROSSTALK]>>Well, mostly with Photoshop. And then the final one, I’m gonna say one of the reasons I think that we’ve seen the reestablishment or re-emergement of board games. And when I say that I mean that not just more and more people are playing them. And that more board games are being published every year than ever before in history, more high quality board games. And they’re selling more, and you can buy them at Target and Barnes and Noble. And Barnes and Noble holds game nights. They’re just selling, and selling, and selling. League of Legends, one of the biggest video games, just released after working on it for years, their own board game that’s receiving very good reviews. I think that it’s because>>I did voice-over on the original beta version of the game.>>He did a voice-over?>>Yes, I was there for beta.>>And now they’ve made a board game. They are like we are one of the biggest video game companies in the world but we wanna get into board games>>Is because nerdy stuff like this is more mainstream than it has ever been in history.>>That’s what it is.>>Whether it’s TV or movies or people reading about vampires in books, it’s just mainstream. Still, Star Trek and Star Wars are still a little bit nerdy, but other than that, if you’re into vampires or aliens or zombies, that’s what everybody’s into now.>>Mm-hm.>>And so a board game about zombies, or curing disease around the world, or playing a team of velociraptor fighting scientists like Jurassic World. That’s just what we do now as a culture.>>Yeah I agree, I think it’s great, I’m really happy. I remember when I was a kid you would just have like four games you would buy. It was like Sorry, Trouble.>>Sorry sucked.>>Thin Ice. The Game of Life.>>The Game of Life sucks. Some games like Boulderdash, that’s a good game.>>The Game of Life is probably the most insightful, because there’s a decision you make, a non-decision you kind of rolled your way into early on, determines your entire life.>>Entire life yeah.>>At the end there’s an end of the road, it doesn’t circle around again.>>It stops.>>You’re done.>>You’re done. Now, there are good older games, too. Like I said, I think Balderdash is good. Pictionary can be fun. We’ve played Survive: Escape from Atlantis, which is really old. I want us to play Cosmic Encounter, which is like, 35 years old now. Still very good games, but games like that are getting published every month now. And they’re kind of expensive, maybe like this was 40 or 50 bucks.>>Ouch!>>But you can get hours and hours and hours of entertainment out of it. That’s like two cocktails in L.A..>>I’ve gotta get a job.>>Something like this is like $15.>>You can play for hours and hours.>>Yeah, and drink at home.>>Just consider it. I would do some more videos like this because I just love talking about this stuff. But, thank you for joining me for this. These are some of my suggestions, feel free to contribute down below. [MUSIC]

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