The economy is bad, and we all know it. Worst recession since the great depression they say. That does not cause the boredom on long nights to be any less, thus leaving individuals and families wondering what in the world they should do with their evening together. Since the Great Depression, one common answer to that question has been “Table Top Gaming”.
Gaming is a great low money way to pass an evening, due to the replay that can be gained out of a relatively small investment. Today you can buy most quality board games at a board game retailer for approximately $40 (less if you pick up a mainstream title from a big box retailer, such as Wal-mart). Even if you and three friends or family members play it only once, you have spent less money then you would on an evening at the movies, and every time you play it after that the investment makes more and more sense. You can easily get four or five games out of most games before you are “sick of them”, thus making your average evening of fun costing less then $10, or $2.50 per person. Take that movie theater.
This replay value was one of the big draws to gaming during the Great Depression, and they had less inventive titles back then to keep them amused. The game of choice during that era in our American history was Monopoly. A game that is bemoaned by many today, and treated as collector items by others. The draw of this game was two fold. Firstly, it has pretty good replay value (or at least as good of replay value as most games during that era). Secondly, it had remarkable escapism. Think about it. If you are starving, begging for work, and don’t have more than a penny to your name does the lure of being able to make high priced financial decisions, to spend thousands on properties, sound somewhat appealing? To pretend just for a moment that they are someone of high financial influence was a very satisfying escape from the very gray reality of the world. So too does escapism play a role in board games today. Many games today have you take on a persona, be it a medic trying to save the world from a pandemic, or a zombie killing cop merely trying to stay alive. Escapism is alive and well.
This idea of gaming being a draw during hard economic times still holds very true during modern economic difficulties. During the burst of the dot com bubble, sales of board games in the United States rose by 400%, making it a multi-million dollar industry, and that recession was mild compared to the pickle that the United States is in now. I think it will be very interesting when figures are released in the coming years, as I expect we’ll see this trend increase dramatically.
So, has the belt been tightened in your household? Perhaps you should consider doing what our forefathers have done, and consider pulling out a board game to fill your evening with relaxation and laughter. Visit your local game store and talk to your clerk about what new game would suit you. It’s certainly an investment that will have a higher return than going out for the evening, and you can smile knowing that you are part of a great recession board gaming tradition.
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