The Atlantic

The Invasion of the German Board Games

Their peaceful premises and intricate rule systems are changing the way Americans play—and helping shape an industry in the process.
Source: Brian Snyder / Reuters

In a development that would have been hard to imagine a generation ago, when video games were poised to take over living rooms, board games are thriving. Overall, the latest available data shows that U.S. sales grew by 28 percent between the spring of 2016 and the spring of 2017. Revenues are expected to rise at a similar rate into the early 2020s—largely, says one analyst, because the target audience “has changed from children to adults,” particularly younger ones.

Much of this success is traceable to the rise of games that, well, get those adults acting somewhat more like children. Clever, low-overhead card games such as Cards Against Humanity, Secret Hitler, and Exploding Kittens (“A card game for people who are into kittens and explosions”) have sold exceptionally well. Games like these have proliferated on Kickstarter, where anyone with a great idea and a contact at an industrial printing company can circumvent the usual toy-and-retail gatekeepers who green-light new concepts. (The largest project category on Kickstarter and board games make up of those projects.)

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

Related Interests

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic6 min readWellness
Measles Can Be Contained. Anti-Semitism Cannot.
Just as the anti-vaccination movement feeds off a handful of fringe outsiders, long-standing stereotypes about Jews have found a new vector in the latest outbreak of the disease.
The Atlantic6 min read
How Game of Thrones Lost Its Way as a Political Drama
In its later seasons, the show started relying on heavy-handed historical references to do the difficult work of character-building.
The Atlantic4 min read
Why Good Girls Is Such a Rewarding Show
The series, which wraps its second season on Sunday, has blossomed into a uniquely flavored, daring drama of the sort found more frequently on cable.