Board games have been around for thousands of years and entertained societies as far back as ancient Mesopotamia. For centuries, families and friends have gathered around tables to engage in competitive or cooperative challenges and connect through play. Although games are subject to change, the underlying experience continues to create valuable quality time for generations.
Despite the board game’s enduring roots, industry tropes and trends aren’t always good. Sometimes what may seem popular is already out of style or inspired in the wrong ways for the type of content being created.
10 New coats of paint didn’t make games appear new
Although a themed version of a classic board game can be fun, the industry got overly attached to the idea for a while. The change added an element to the best of these new-themed games.
Golden girls note used the classic a notice formula, but it was about missing cheesecake instead of cold-blooded murder. However, instead of improvements, many developers simply throw new graphics and a few word changes on the standard version of the game to make a quick buck.
9 “Board games are for kids,” they said
Although the modern board game industry has a remarkable breadth and depth, there was a significant period when most companies viewed new games as an area of ”kids entertainment”. Classic board games were relegated to the world of the past and most new developments were aimed squarely at children.
8th Bright colors become tiring
Board games are meant to be fun, so it makes sense that they look just as fun on the outside. One trend went way too far with this idea, flooding the market with oversaturated primary and secondary colors. There were no neutrals or pastels to be found.
While the bright colors worked as a marketing ploy for a while, the endless cherry reds and neon yellows began to wear down even the most colorful of gamers. Currently, a game’s colors are curated to fit its theme and overall aesthetic, resulting in a more diverse presentation on player shelves.
7 The “latest” technology hasn’t held up
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to move with the times. Technology is always changing and improving and has seen astronomical progress over the last three decades. As they rushed to compete, several publishers developed and released board games using technology as their primary marketing gimmick.
Examples of this trend are VHS and then DVD integrated games or electronically enhanced board games like Note FX and Electronic battleship. Some games released updated versions over time to match the pace, such as mall madness, while others have been practically forgotten. With modern technology like digital versions and apps, these older models just don’t stand alone anymore.
6 Unnecessary gendering of isolated players
Like many other facets of society, board games have become unnecessarily gendered. games like We’re sorry! and risk were assigned to the boys’ range, while girls did Pretty pretty princess and Mysterious Date. All games marketed to girls were based around feminine content such as fashion, shopping or dating, while boys embraced adventurous quests and strategic war simulations.
While the world hasn’t completely done away with gendered marketing, it’s much rarer, especially in the board game space. Board games are now sorted and marketed by categories such as age and skill level, rather than gender.
5 Inferior components did not pay off
Most modern board games come with carefully crafted components, especially when they come from passionate independent development teams and publishers. The art is hand-drawn, the maps are printed on thick paper, and the pieces are made from sturdy materials, but it wasn’t always like this.
In the past, many games were made out of flimsy cardboard and cheap plastic that broke even after a year of regular use. Presumably, this served to reduce manufacturing costs, but had a negative impact on the reputation of the games. It was common for players to replace broken parts with random household items or toys they had on hand.
4 Spinners came to a halt
Popularized by The game of life, a large spinner in the middle of the board was often used to determine how many squares players would move. They were visually appealing, but they would jam or break regularly, and could also become imbalanced and favor certain numbers.
Though still imperfect mathematically, dice are objectively better than a spinner. Cubes are less bulky, difficult to break, and easy to replace when the need arises due to their sheer ubiquity. Even though life continues to use its iconic spinner, other games have happily ditched the bulky plastic wheel.
3 Competition reigned supreme
While many competitive board games are fantastic, cooperative play or a combination of the two mechanics offers an equally good time. Sometimes both board game enthusiasts and developers get too fixated on competitive gaming.
This trend was primarily resolved by an increase in industry diversity, as new faces brought fresh perspectives on what audiences were looking for. Cooperative games, and games with cooperative and competitive phases, grew in popularity and earned their place on players’ tables.
2 Not everything has to be a board game
Another trend surrounding the incorporation of popular media into board games was to slap pop culture themes onto games that didn’t fit the theme at hand. No player wants to become a real estate mogul in the zombie apocalypse, but Hasbro made it anyway Monopoly: The Walking Dead.
That excitement isn’t quite over, but it’s definitely calmed down. New versions of monopoly are less, and re-topics of a notice appear to have almost dried up. At this point, pop culture versions of games usually need to be sought out rather than appearing en masse on store shelves.
1 More variety is always an advantage
Although the increasing diversity is not limited to the board game industry, its impact on the games that come out is clearly visible. Board games used to be mostly concentrated in a few highly prolific publishers, but that’s no longer the case.
Creating board games is more accessible than ever, as the wide range of games on the market will attest. Creators who previously could not publish their content can now reach large audiences. New perspectives and areas of knowledge always bring advances to the disciplines they influence, and board games are no exception.