Board games return to popularity
By The Los Angeles Times
Published: Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, 8:32 p.m.
Blockbuster board games are unusual, but Days of Wonder has one in its Ticket to Ride.
The already classic cardboard game, in which players strategize over how to build the best railway routes, was released in 2004 and has worldwide sales of “several hundred thousand units per year,” said Eric Hautemont, co-founder of the Los Altos, Calif., game company.
That places it in the forefront of a blossoming independent game world, in which new titles such as monster bonanza King of Tokyo and kingdom-building game Dominion are fighting to join classics such as Monopoly and Sorry.
Driven by online word-of-mouth on board game websites such as BoardGameGeek and by the popularity of online digital games, including Days of Wonder's Small World, old-fashioned board games have acquired cult status and are growing in popularity.
The American board game thriller Pandemic and imports such as Carcassone and The Settlers of Catan are the titles most often cited as having fueled the table-top renaissance. They have been followed by hits such as the amusement park-themed card game Carnival, the coffee-focused strategy game Viva Java and the old New York game Tammany Hall.
Days of Wonder's Hautemont estimated 900 games are released annually by about 40 active publishers, designed for a small but enthusiastic audience.
Russell Howell, 42, discovered the independent board game scene about five years ago, and today he maintains the LA Games group, which organizes gaming events at stores and coffee shops around Los Angeles.
“I found that designer board gaming held much of what I was looking for in a form of entertainment that video games quite often lacked: a personal connection,” Howell said.
Designing and releasing a game is not cheap. Hautemont said Days of Wonder spends about $20,000 simply to develop a game. That's at the high end, but Hautemont's company grossed $7 million the year Ticket to Ride was released.
Most game publishers have more modest budgets. Journalist-turned-game designer/publisher Chris Kirkman budgeted $18,000 to $20,000 to develop, print and publish Carnival, his first game.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Wages have soared in Pittsburgh, but economy appears to have stalled
- Consol Energy transitions as leadership changes hands
- PPG shareholders vote against proposals; sales, profit see double-digit increases
- Former BP employee settles insider-trading charges
- Emboldened by Italy move, QVC to expand into France
- Judge won’t order recalled GM cars to be parked
- Target expands subscription service tenfold
- Applications for jobless aid edge up
- Wal-Mart rolls out money transfer service
- Secret Service close to understanding Target data breach
- Facebook feature lets users locate nearby pals