Or, How We Became Cool, or at Least Much Cooler Than Before.
Not only does time fly, but it also changes and goes through a metamorphosis as well. One of the more popular shows from the last few years on Netflix was Stranger Things. It showcases the children of the show playing Dungeons and Dragons and the names of creatures are fantasy-based. Many of the Marvel movies pre-pandemic made at least 500 million dollars and some made close to 1 billion dollars in sales. I did most of my growing up in the early 90s and even I have seen what became cool change so much. So what really changed? How did we board game nerds become cool? Or at the very least much cooler than we used to be?
I work construction and many of those guys are traditional in what they like to do. We talk football and even have fantasy football leagues most years (None of which are Football but with trolls and elves much to my dismay). One day we can spend an hour talking about the weekend upsets and scores. We can spend the same amount of time talking about the newest Marvel movie or fantasy video game. Yes, I am a more level nerd than my co-workers, a fact, for which I am very proud. But the fact that I am not on the lowest social rung of the ladder for my nerd choices is interesting to me.
We have the very same debates around the newest Star Wars movies that I have with the fellas at game night. That means that somewhere in the past we, as a group, became cooler, or more mainstream, than when I was in high school. That must mean, in my logic, that the board game hobby is right at the front of that train deciding what will be cool for the next generation of nerds. We are living in a golden age of board games, last year even with the pandemic over 4,500 new board games were released. Yes, some of those are not what I would call amazing. But the fact that so many ideas of games have become a reality is something to behold.
At Meeple Nation we have talked about gateway board games to get people interested in the hobby, to get their toes into the water and not overwhelm them with the sheer amount of choices there are. I have thought that we need to become better salesmen for our hobby. Talk with pride that we spent three hours playing a cool game the other day, yeah you would like it. I have found at work that when they ask why I stayed out too late again on Thursday, I get farther when I tell them I played a board game and go into the background of Nemesis and the epic story of the betrayal of Nathan rather than, “oh I played a board game.”
What has been something that got someone to sit down and try board games with you and your friends? Was the trick saying that we have this really simple game that is easy to understand? I feel there are different ways to get people to the table to try something awesome. It still is not easy to do, there are negative stereotypes that we have to compete with. The first year I participated in Fantasy Football with my coworkers, I made the choice based solely on the fact that it was something I can bond with the guys over. I did not want to sit and watch all the games, I did not want to know the names of the players, but I ended up having fun. Yes, they made fun of the fact that I knew nothing and did pretty well in the league. After that, I did learn a few of the player’s names that I did not want to learn. I can now sit and watch a game and have a better understanding of what is going on. Overall, that was a positive experience and a great choice for me.
My thesis comes down to this, the fact that culture is heading our way, we bring our best foot forward describing our hobby. Things that just a few decades ago were not cool are being consumed at record rates. People have found out that games are well-produced and the stories they use are well written. When we find a better way to talk about our hobby, I feel we will get much farther in gaming discussion when we talk to family and friends, and when we encourage them into trying our gateway game. Maybe, just maybe, they will sit down for something and they will enjoy it as well.