We love playing board games in our house, especially Monopoly, but there’s no doubt our kids prefer their Nintendo Switch consoles and iPads. So do kids in general still really play board games?
Statistics show that 28% of toy buyers play board games as a family, so this means roughly a quarter of children still play board games. The age group that plays the most board games is the 35 to 44-year-olds. However, video games remain more popular with most kids.
Let’s dive down into the subject of kids playing board games in more detail, and discover how popular they are compared to video games, what the most popular board games are – and when they started gaining in popularity again…
Are Board Games Still Popular? (or Do Kids Prefer Their Consoles?)
The reality is that video games are much more popular with kids than board games. Way more.
But, experts say that board game use is on the rise, thanks mostly to the internet, Millenials, and COVID. And, when parents play board games, kids do too.
What Percentage of Kids Play Board Games?
In a recent survey of toy purchasers, 28% of the 1,003 respondents said they played board games once a week as a family.
Are Board Games Making a Comeback?
Yes. Board game popularity has been rising for at least the last five years. Experts say that the internet has boosted both board game awareness and board game availability.
Then, in 2020, COVID gave board game sales a big boost.
What Is the No 1 Board Game in the World?
That depends on who you ask.
In 2020, Google Trends ranked Monopoly as the most-searched-for game worldwide.
The sports website Stadium Talk also ranks Monopoly as the most popular board game of all time.
Monopoly was invented in 1904 by Elizabeth Magie. It has been translated into at least 47 languages and has so many versions (over 1,000) they’ve stopped counting. Monopoly has generated over $1.4 billion in sales worldwide.
Fun Monopoly Fact: The most expensive Monopoly board cost over $2,000,000 to make. Owned by a private collector, this board is made from 18-karat gold and has rubies, sapphires, and diamonds.
But not everyone agrees that Monopoly is number one. Money, Inc has a list based on the highest number of sales and the number one is – chess, followed closely by checkers.
On Amazon, the family board game Ticket to Ride has the best reviews of all the board games they sell. It has a whopping 4.9 out of 5 stars from 17,983 reviewers.
BoardGameGeek (aka BGG) has its own ranking system. Almost 50,000 board game geeks gave the board game Gloomhaven the top-ranking score of 8.73.
In 2020, during the pandemic – no surprises here – the board game Pandemic was the number one best-selling board game.
Here’s a nice video from Man vs Meeple that discusses their top ten picks for 2021.
When Did Board Games Become Popular Again?
Board games began gaining in popularity around in 2017 thanks to two trends: the desire to decrease screen time, and the increase in board game awareness.
Then, there was COVID. After the lockdowns of the COVID pandemic, people were starved for face-to-face social connections. The board game trend that had started five years ago took off.
Board game awareness has seen a huge boost thanks to the internet. Previously, board game sales were hampered by unfamiliar titles that had sometimes hefty price tags.
Today, you can learn everything there is to know about the game, before you buy. Online, you can find detailed descriptions, a podcast or two, reviews, and even how-to videos of most board games out there.
The internet has also boosted the amount of new – and innovative – games. In the past, board game manufacturers struggled with economic risk. The problem is, board games are expensive to make.
Now, through Kickstarter campaigns and crowdfunding, manufacturers can gauge interest more precisely. Board game manufacturers have much lower risks.
The internet has also boosted board games by helping like-minded gamers find each other. Interested in group play but don’t have a group? No problem. You can find your group on the internet.
What Age Group Plays the Most Board Games?
The most popular board games today are elaborate and beautiful. They take hours to play, there are lots of rules and the games cost big bucks.
So who’s playing? In 2019, a social media survey was given to folks ranging from 25 to 54 years old. The survey said that the age group that plays the most board games ranges from 35 to 44 years old.
The author of the survey, Paul Booth, speculates that this particular age group has some commonalities. They are probably well employed and can afford the games. This group spends up to $1,000 yearly on new games.
Most of the popular games today require four or more players, so the games are social. The folks in this age range have houses and the money to entertain. Or, they have the money to go to boardgamer conventions. Yup, that’s a thing. There are also boardgamer bars and cafés.
Finally, Paul Booth speculates that this fairly affluent group probably works behind monitors all day long, perhaps in cubicles or offices by themselves. When free time comes, they are more inclined to in-person, social activities.
Here’s some more interesting survey data: the overwhelming majority of survey respondents were American white males. Also, statistically, the United States is the largest board game consumer per capita. Behind it, the UK, Canada, and Australia were all in the top 10.
Here’s the link to Paul Booth’s boardgamer survey.
What Are the Benefits of Playing Board Games for Families?
There are lots of reasons for families to play board games. But there are two big ones. First, playing a board game as a family cements family bonds. Second, board games teach children life lessons in the safe space of their family.
To play a board game, you gather round, just like at a family meal – only closer. When the family gathers round, they talk. They chat. They joke around. They share and they bond.
Board games teach small children to take turns. Games build attention spans and memory functions. They increase fine motor skills and teach cause and effect. Many board games build math skills.
Board games give parents the opportunity to teach their children to win and lose graciously in private, before they face the pressure of a noisy crowd. Board games can teach children about teamwork.
What Is the Most Popular Board Game of All Time?
Some people say that Monopoly is the most popular board game of all time, but we say – chess.
Chess was created in India around 1500 years ago. It has maintained its universal appeal because anyone can play chess – from children to grandmasters.
Chess is at once simple and astonishingly complex.
The game of chess ends when a player takes the opponent’s king. This move is called checkmate, which comes from an ancient Persian phrase shah mat, meaning “the king is dead”.
In chess, there are eight different ways to checkmate in just two moves.
According to the American Foundation for Chess, there are 1369,518,829,100,544,000,000,000,000 ways to play the first ten moves of chess. In fact, the number of unique games of chess is greater than the number of electrons in the universe.
Fun Chess Fact: The Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit boosted chess sales by 215%.
Conclusion: Are Video Games More Popular Than Board Games?
In a recent survey, more than 70% of children under 18 played video games weekly. And, at least 65% of adults played video games weekly.
Surprisingly, the average age of a video gamer is 34. The average video gamer has a job, a house, and children. The average video gamer says video games help them relax.
Statista says that, in 2020, the board game industry revenue worldwide was just over $3 billion dollars. Not bad. However, the video game revenue in the same year, worldwide, was $178 billion.
Here’s a good website with statistics about video gaming.
We’ll try to continue playing both video games and board games in our household! 🙂