Video Games vs. Game Aisle Games

It’s been almost 30 years since an MTV VJ aired “Video Killed the Radio Star” and it sparked the idea that radio would fall and music videos would rise to be the medium of choice for music listeners here in the US.  But surprise, surprise, radio didn’t disappear and instead has evolved to include satellite radio, HD radio and live streaming over the web.  We can even download podcasts of radio shows onto our ipods.  How did we ever think that radio could be replaced?  It’s been a classic pastime since the radio theatre shows of the 1920s.  Sure, there have been artists that have achieved stardom based on some appealing music videos (Madonna, Britney Spears, *NSYNC, etc.), but many more gain fame through the traditional routes of face-less radio airplay.  So even though we were all screaming “I want my MTV,” we never bothered to power down our radios.

So does the radio vs. video clash turned co-existence model hold true for video games vs. classic games?  Somebody asked me just that question other day: do I think that board games are being killed by video games?

“No Way!”  Just as music videos have not replaced radio, I don’t think that video games will ever replace traditional game-aisle games.  Sure, their target markets definitely overlap, but does that mean that one will destroy the other?  Not at all!  New board games, card games, dice games, plastic skill and action games, trading card games, etc. are introduced every year and have been some of the hottest got-to-have Christmas gifts during the past 10 years — including the ever-addictive Bull’s Eye Ball.  And what about the classics like UNO, Clue, Candyland, Twister and Operation?  Will those ever fall out of favor?  Monopoly has been around over 70 years and during that time it has been sold in over 103 countries and in 37 different languages!  One recent release Monopoly Here and Now sold more than 1 million copies in the first year and now you can find Monopoly: Electronic Banking Edition on store shelves.  I’d say it’s going to move forward, pass go and collect another $200 on its way to the next generation of players.

These video-less games are too much apart of our human culture to disappear.  One of the oldest game boards in the world came out of a pharaoh’s tomb in Egypt, and since then humans have invented and played millions of different games.  So just because there are alternative mediums like Xboxes, PSPs, Wiis, computers, cell phones and ipods doesn’t mean that the classic face-to-face game will be replaced.  Just like radio, these superstars will, and some already have, evolved into more modern, tech-savvy versions of their former selves.  Besides, there’s something magical about a group of friends gathered around a coffee table playing Apples to Apples that cannot be duplicated by a video game system or computer.  So dust off classic games buried in your basement and play on!  Or better yet – look around this site and find a new one to enjoy (shameless self-promotion).


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  1. Mary Couzin

    Love the radio/music video analogy!

    Not only will board games stay around with friends and family (sales were up 6% last year), they are becoming common in schools and libraries. I’m just back from exhibiting at the American Library Association Annual Conference and was exciting to hear about so many libraries hosting Game Nights and circulating games! Many that stopped by my booth said, ‘Games are hot! What you got?’ In 2007, about 20% of public libraries circulated games, 40% had formal gaming programs, and 75% supported games in the libraries in some way and it has grown since! Schools are finding they help raise test scores and help kids focus and get along.

    I agree, board games aren’t going away, they are even gaining momentum and popping up in new venues… and it isn’t just because more people play games in a bad economy!

    Mary Couzin
    Chicago Toy and Game Fair

  2. Richard

    Excellent piece. It will be interesting to see what happens as video games, virtual worlds and board games continue to co-exist and mutate into…what? Maybe an amalgam of all three that allows people to have an enhanced board game experience.

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