I love video games. I will always love video games. I don’t see ever not playing video games.
But if I’m being honest, over the last few years, I have found myself gravitating more and more to tabletop games as a preferred gaming experience.
Not all the time, obviously. The logistics prevent it from being an impromptu activity I can just “do” for an hour or so at the end of a long day. With busy schedules, you can’t always gather people easily.
And it helps that we’re in the midst of a board game renaissance I suppose, but there’s something… simpler, about tabletop gaming. I don’t mean they’re shallow from a complexity standpoint; trust me, we’re a far cry from the days of Monopoly.
In light of all the video game industry stuff we’ve been discussing, though, tabletop gaming just feels more straightforward, and that’s refreshing. And don’t get me wrong, some of the stuff we see in video game business takes place in board gaming too; after all, booster packs for games like Magic are pretty much the original “loot boxes.” Make no mistake, board game companies want your money just as much as anyone else.
And some games end up getting expansions you can choose to purchase to extend your game experience, and “patches” exist in board gaming in the form of FAQ’s and Erratas, but by and large it more consistently feels like when you buy a game, you’re buying the whole game. Like, that’s it.
Maybe the tactile portion of board gaming helps with the sense of value too, as we’ve moved entirely into an age where most of our entertainment is digital. And I’m fine with that, I’m happy to have all my movies and games off my shelves and stored in digital libraries I can access from anywhere. But there is still something nice about holding a product you’ve purchased. And board games give you a lot to touch and hold.
And unfortunately, most video games can’t hold a candle to same-room multiplayer. While the video game industry and pretty much all but forsaken split-screen and couch co-op, tabletop gaming still lets you engage with people in a more intimate, direct social way. Sure, working out the logistics takes more effort than hopping into an online lobby, and so online gaming will always have its place, but given the choice I’d always rather play with friends in person as opposed to over a headset.
So I don’t know, that’s just something I’ve been feeling lately as we discuss the different directions that the video game industry is headed, and whether or not its actually something we have any control over. At least my board games remain a bastion of direct, someone pure enjoyment, and they aren’t fucking me over just yet.