Gen Con is the nation’s largest annual gathering of board game fans and developers.
From familiar classics like Settlers of Catan to new games from independent companies, the convention held in Indianapolis features some of the biggest players in the $3 billion table game industry, as well as its most dedicated fans.
Peter Fenlon knows the long ways of board games well.
“We brought the idea of modern board games to America,” Fenlon said. “It’s been kind of the beginning of a renaissance.”
He is the CEO of Catan Studios, the company behind Settlers of Catan, which has sold over 40 million copies worldwide.
“Gaming has been growing since the ’70s, but it’s skyrocketed in the last 10 years,” Fenlon said. friends and casually have a good time.”
Board games in the US have been around since before Catan’s debut in 1995, with Monopoly debuting in 1935 and Scrabble in 1938. But the industry has exploded in the last two years thanks to nostalgia, the growth of online communities and the emergence of independent developers.
Today, classic board games are now major collectors’ items on online marketplaces like eBay, and new titles from emerging companies are raised through grassroots campaigns on platforms like Kickstarter.
Board games account for about a third of Kickstarter’s total annual revenue, and last year, more than 100 games cost more than half a million dollars each on the platform.
Chris Solis, the creator of games like Pocket Paragons, is one of the many independent developers on the platform.
“Kickstarter basically allowed me to start this company, pitch the idea,” Solis said.
Beyond the growing gaming communities and online marketplaces, new players are drawn to table games for the way they connect people in real life.
“It gives you a lot of human connection,” Solis said.
The board game market grew 20% during the start of the pandemic because it was a form of entertainment that didn’t involve looking at a screen.
“What a board game continues to do and also did during the pandemic is it creates this opportunity where we can sit at the table together, we connect in a very different way,” said Deirdre Cross, general manager of Funko Games.
As more gamers began to socialize face-to-face again, table games became an easy way to reconnect.
“I think the tabletop game industry is very resilient,” Cross said.
“Business is exploding,” said Bob Means, eBay’s director of trading. “Collectible table card: every day is bigger.”
Newsy is the only free 24/7 national news network. You can find Newsy using your TV’s digital antenna or stream for free. See all the ways you can watch Newsy here.