One of the most critically adored and commercially successful board games of the last 10 years becomes digital on Switch. But, without its cards and counters does the magic get lost?
Devloped by Asmodee Digital
Released in 2019
It’s Friday night in Playopolis, Rochester. The bar is crowded, the air is filled with laughter and the tables are filled with cocktails and board games. Huddled around the tables are former video game geeks, who once would be playing digital games at home but now are enjoying the company of like-minded people. I know this because I’m one of them. The video game industry is booming; more are playing games than ever before but despite this there has been a board-game renaissance. Perhaps due to the decline of coach co-op games, many have exchanged their controllers for dice in order to play games socially. “For a time, video-gaming offered a level of physical social interaction, at the arcade or through multi-player sofa games that friends or family members could play at the same time, in the same room” notes the Guardian’s Dan Jolin. “Then multi-player video games moved online, and fellow players became physically removed from one another, if not completely anonymous.”
My group are lost in a melee of rhymes playing ‘Obama Lama’. Next to us a couple in their thirties are building railways around India, and at the back of the room two teenage girls are playing ‘Dream Phone’ laughing at the oversized phone that they believe surely must be a ridiculous exaggeration of what people used in the 80’s. Inspired by the popularity in America, Playopolis is one of many Board Game cafes popping up around the UK. Market research group NPD, have noted a 20% rise in Board Game sales since 2016. Many, like me, have come to learn that board games aren’t limited to ‘Monopoly’, ‘Cluedo’ and ‘Warhammer’. Modern games are diverse and varied, adaptable to the occasion and the company. To accompany an evening of drinking there’s ‘Dobble’, ‘Exploding Kittens’ and ‘Cards against Humanity’. When I have more time, I can gather my friends and spend an hour as cowboys exploring a cardboard train, or even spend a couple of hours exploring a dungeon as adorable mice.
While admittedly still new to the board game brigade I already gave my favourites and amongst them is certainly ‘Pandemic’. Described by Dan Jolin as “a key title in the board-gaming resurgence” it’s a complicated and brutally hard board game where the players must collaborate to fight the outbreak of horrific global diseases.