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The board game industry experienced an encouraging year throughout 2011, with sales up 6%. This has led to a rash of opinions indicating that this is part of the continued rise of board games and that the industry could even be ready to overthrow video games or some such.
A board game is a game that involves counters or pieces moved or placed on a pre-marked surface or "board", according to a set of rules. Games can be based on pure strategy, chance (e.g. rolling dice) or a mixture of the two, and usually have a goal which a player aims to achieve.
Every Christmas, the shelves of every toy shop and department store bulge with bright shiny boxes containing the latest and greatest board games. There are board games of virtually every conceivable sort and suitable for just about everyone - fast moving board games and slow strategic board games, board games about love and board games about war, children's board games and adult's board games.
Families are wisely scaling back their entertainment budgets, choosing to stay home and revisit traditional family pastimes. Board games and puzzles can be enjoyed over and over, giving families more quality time to spend together, without breaking their budget.
Board game manufacturers are finding that to succeed in the market, they must sell through a different distribution channel to achieve strong market growth. Current, signs indicate that this market is the national book store chains of Borders, Barnes and Noble, and the online book store, Amazon.
Throughout mainland Europe, a new breed of board-gaming now thrives. There are titles that allow you to play at building medieval settlements, re-enact pivotal battles from the second world war, tackle political debating or manage the spread of disease, and they sell in huge numbers.
Mature themes as diverse as noir crime fiction and religious conflict offer tremendous variety, and unusual concepts such as "strategic storytelling" push the conventions of the form way beyond hands of cards and dice.
Now these games, led by titles such as Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne, are starting to penetrate the consciousness of the UK public.
They've been described as "hardcore" or "strategy" (occasionally even as "German-style", due to their popularity there). But at their heart they are still just board games, and the best are as suitable for a family reunion at Christmas as they are for a den of geeks.
For more information on the board game industry, see the latest research: Board Game Industry
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