What’s Bringing Back Tabletop Games?

by Contributing Columnist

Tabletop games never really went away completely. They did, however, become a very small niche in the gaming world. In fact, they dwindled away so badly that some people feared they would literally die out. About five years or so ago, however, tabletop gaming turned a corner. It’s now regained the ground it lost and is still growing. Here are the key reasons why.

Gaming companies tapped into new markets

Gaming companies (both electronic and tabletop) started creating more diverse casts of characters. This made their games easier to market to new demographic groups. At the same time, the tabletop-gaming community itself started to reach out actively to potential new players.

Appropriately enough, much of the early recovery of tabletop gaming was thanks to real-world gaming sessions. The nature of tabletop gaming means that these are fairly easy to organize. You literally just need a table and some light. This meant that tabletop gamers were able to use all kinds of venues which just wouldn’t have been suitable for electronic gaming sessions.

Possibly, some of the early attendees were, at least partly, driven by childhood nostalgia. Little by little, however, tabletop gaming managed to win over people who’d never played before. These people spread the word to their family and friends and thus tabletop gaming began to grow again.

Tabletop gaming is cost-effective entertainment

Digital gaming is expensive. Its popularity shows that there are plenty of people out there able and prepared (if not willing) to pay. At the same time, however, even the keenest digital gamers would probably admit that their hobby eats up more money than they’d really like.

It isn’t just the cost of the console, gaming PC, or the actual games. It’s the fact that both have a finite life cycle. Gaming companies are continually bringing out new consoles. When they do, they optimize their new games for these consoles. As a result, these new games may or may not work on older consoles. If you go for PC options, you still need to keep updating your PC.

Then, there’s the fact that games for one console will not necessarily work on another console. This means that you may need more than one console to play all the games you enjoy. It’s also increasingly common for electronic games to have value-add subscriptions and/or in-game purchases too.

Compare all this expense to the cost of buying even a top-quality tabletop game from a maker like Starling Games. Then add in the fact that you can play that tabletop game with all your friends regardless of what equipment they own. Then top this off with the fact that your purchase will last indefinitely.

People want a break from the internet

It’s fair to say that the internet has actually done a lot to encourage the spread of tabletop gaming. Rather ironically, however, this help has come in two diametrically opposed ways. On the one hand, the internet has made it possible for tabletop gamers to socialize with each other across geographical boundaries.

On the other hand, the internet has become a source of concern to many people, especially parents. Probably very few people want to go back to pre-internet days but people do increasingly want a break from the online world. Tabletop gaming is an ideal way of being social without social media.

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