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Putting tabletop games back in the limelight | The Triangle

Putting tabletop games back in the limelight

For many during these times, nature is best observed through a pane of glass. It’s those moments where you catch a reflection of yourself in the window that you can almost imagine being out there in the beyond. But you’re not. It’s safe inside, dry and (almost) the right temperature. Ah, the great indoors.

There’s no place like home, right? The familiar smells, your comfiest pants, beloved pets, your dying houseplants, seeing the same few people over and over again, sore ribs from wasting another afternoon in bed, feeling like the walls are closing in on you, hearing voices in the shower drain and so much more! Face it: With three plus months of forced captivity, we’re all homebodies now. We’ve gotten good at being home.

Many intrepid indoor individuals have rediscovered the best thing to put on kitchen tables since mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies — board games. In a broader sense, tabletop games have skyrocketed in sales to record highs. Online simulated tabletop games like boardgamegeek.com have seen such a surge in player traffic that they’ve experienced frequent lag and major server crashes. This demand for tabletop games doesn’t end at cards or boards — apparently an increasing number of people are buying puzzles as well. Puzzle Warehouse, the largest puzzle distributor in the United States, says that their sales are up 2,000 percent since last year. We’re in some sort of printed cardboard golden age, where even puzzles are hip and happening.

It’s obvious that people are looking for time sinks during the stay-at-home orders, but there’s definitely something more going on. Video games have also had a recent explosion in sales, but in the 21st century, why are tabletop games still relevant?

The Triangle prefers to print the news on paper, so we’re probably partial to the analog. Video games have seen drastic advancement in graphics and gameplay over the years, but there’s nothing quite like shedding the hoopla and simplifying a game down to its core components. There’s something charming about arranging objects on a table, memorizing and enforcing prewritten rules, imagining a story and playing a game with your closest cronies.

In a world where we vie for digital property, physically interacting with a game’s pieces is a refreshing experience. Tabletop gaming is the perfect storm of killing time, face-to-face human interaction and a break from screens that makes for the pinnacle of pandemic phenomenon.

The family game night has shifted away from its family focus; now any group of people — college students, coworkers, neighbors, inmates, residents of old age homes — can come together for some wholesome fun.

One of the many silver linings that people are finding during quarantine is that there is more time to do things that had previously fallen by the wayside. Tabletop board games, card games and older family favorites have found a new level of relevance in the age of information and should be appreciated as such.

That’s the thing with golden ages, though — they end. With Philadelphia on pace to enter the yellow phase of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s three-phase reopening plan by June 5, the demand for tabletop games will rapidly decline in the coming months… but it shouldn’t. People will soon be able to gather in one place to have an epic tabletop romp! We can’t let the board game momentum end with the end of lockdowns.

At last, tabletop games are shedding the stigma of the monotonous years of Monopoly. Tabletop games have had exciting new innovations and shifts from their predecessors. Gone are the days of yawning through, “I think it was Scarlet in the observatory with the lead pipe.” Now any old bloke can scream, “You’re a fascist!” at his own mother and have it only be a good old game of “Secret Hitler.” With a growing tabletop industry, more competition means more designers pushing the boundaries of how a cardboard box can hold an incredible experience within.

If you’re a Drexel student looking for an “in” to the hobby, Red Cap’s Corner on Lancaster Avenue has everything you’re looking for. If supporting locals gives you the gnarly taste of farmer’s market organic hogwash, feel free to shovel your hard-earned unemployment compensation into the maw of Amazon, who likely has the largest and most convenient selection of games on the planet.

We want to see this new golden age of screen-free excitement continue to thrive after the quarantine ends, and you should, too. Pull your face away from the screen and go hide it behind a hand of cards, you crazy kids.