Board Games

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Board Games


NAICS: 33-9932 Game, Toy, and Children's Vehicle Manufacturing

SIC: 3944 Games, Toys, and Children's Vehicle Manufacturing

NAICS-Based Product Codes: 33-99327 through 33-99327226


A board game contains several parts. One essential part is a flat surface on which the game's activities are played, the board. Games may involve the role of dice, the spin of a wheel, or the answering of questions. In these types of board games the players move pieces on the board as part of the competition. Other games require players to rid themselves of property or acquire the property of their opponents. Some board games require skill and knowledge on the part of the player while other games are driven primarily by luck.

Early Games

Early versions of chess, checkers, and backgammon were all played in ancient civilizations. These games were created in Egypt, Greece, India, or China and became popular with established rules. Games were introduced to cultures through trade; the game of Wei Qi, for example, appears to have made its way across the Asian continent along the early trade routes of the region. Board games were also introduced through exploration and military campaigns. The Vikings carried the game Hnefatafl on their travels to Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, and Great Britain. Translated as King's Table, this game involved moving pegs around a wooden board. Several sources credit Christopher Columbus with bringing chess and cards to the New World. Roman soldiers brought early versions of backgammon with them on their travels. As a game was introduced into a culture the players typically made it their own, changing the name of the game and perhaps slightly altering rules or board designs.


Senet is the oldest known board game. It has been found in ancient digs of burial grounds in Egypt and dates to at least 3500 BC. More than 40 versions of the game have been recovered. Players used sticks, bones, or other materials as player pieces, which they moved across the 30 square board. Romans played a similar game called Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum, the game of 12 lines. Romans introduced the game to Britain in its first century conquest. Turkey, Spain, Germany, and China were only a few of the countries that had similar versions of the game. They were known by other names, of course, and there were subtle differences. In the game of Nard, for example, which developed in Asia in 800 AD, two dice were used; the Arabic version of the game used three dice. The first use of the word backgammon was in 1645, with the name coming from the Saxon or Welsh languages. By the 1930s the rules to the game were more firmly established, and the game has remained unchanged since then. In the 1960s the first tournaments were held. The game saw a brief surge in popularity in the 1970s.

Chess and Checkers

The game of Chaturanga originated in India and is considered by many to be the earliest form of chess. The game dates to at least as early as the sixth century. The name literally means having four limbs or parts, and seems to reflect the four military divisions used in the game. Chaturanga is played on a square board of eight squares. The pieces were the Raja (the king) and his Mantri (the counselors), the gaja (elephants), the asvas (horses), the ratha (chariots) and the Pedati (infantry). There are clear similarities between this game and chess, including the arrangement of pieces on the board and the name of the pieces (the ratha is an early rook piece, the pedati an early pawn). The game of Shatranj is quite similar to Chaturanga. It is referred to in Persian writing in 600 AD. The game made its way to Greece and across Europe; it is believed to have been in France by 760 AD. By 1400 the game of chess was firmly established in Europe.

Ancient civilizations played a game called Alquerque, an early version of checkers. Alquerque boards and pieces have been found at Egyptian digs dating from 600 BC; Egyptian artwork suggests the game may have existed as early as 1400 BC. Both Homer and Plato mention the game. The Moors introduced a version of the game to Spain about the tenth century. While the name given the game varied from culture to culture (the Arabs called the game El-Quirkat) certain aspects of the game were retained. The game was played on a board with two players and twelve pieces. Each player starts play with either six white pieces or six black pieces. The game was enjoyed throughout Medieval Europe.

Historians believe the combining of Alquerque with the 8 × 8 chessboard took place in France in the middle of the twelfth century. This game was initially known as Fierges. The game became known as Checkers in the United States. It is known as International Draughts in other countries. Rules vary slightly, and the game is played on a 10 × 10 or 12 × 12 board depending on the country. English draughts is played on an 8 × 8 board and is the checker game's closest relation. Chinese Checkers, it should be noted, is played on a hexagon shaped board. It was actually invented in the United States and not China; the adding of the word Chinese was thought to give the game a more exotic feel.

One game the Chinese can take credit for is Wei Qi, meaning surrounding pieces. It is first mentioned in writing in 548 BC, although it existed for centuries before this. Wei Qi's origin is unclear. Several emperors have been credited with its creation, as have members from that nation's military. The game appears similar to chess or checkers at first glance. However, it is quite different. The game is played with black and white stones on a board; the object of the game is to move the stones strategically to take as much territory as possible. The game became known by many names as it moved along Asian trade routes (Shogi in Japan and later Baduk in Korea, Go in the West). A game that clearly emphasizes strategy, Wei Qi has a reputation for being very challenging because of the countless moves one can make on the board.

During the thirteenth century Alfonso X, king of Leon and Castile, commissioned the Libro de los Juegos, the Book of Games. The Book of Games is the first encyclopedia of games in Europe and was completed in 1281. It contained the rules for the early games of chess, backgammon, dice, and other table-based games. Table and board games were mainly popular with the aristocracy, although certainly not exclusively. Egyptian cave paintings suggest that early members of the lower class enjoyed chess and backgammon games as well. It was the upper class who had developed a particular love of their leisure time, however, and board games offered them a pleasant diversion. Their favorite games are thought to be those that emphasized chance rather than skill.

The 1800s Begin

This concept of leisure time would come much later for those in the lower economic brackets. The average American child in the 1700s and early 1800s had little time for leisure and game playing. Children were expected to work outside the home or contribute to the running of the daily household. Sensibilities changed during the Victorian period, when the typical household became much more child oriented. The middle class began to develop in the United States about this time as well. Some families were wealthy enough to bring nannies and other servants into the home. More time could be devoted to leisure activities.

With the increasing affluence, the increase in leisure time, and the development of a middle class, the board game industry began to flourish. Chess and checkers were still popular pursuits for families, but other games were developed that could entertain and provide moral instruction. In 1843 W. & S.B. Ives published and released the game Mansion of Happiness. The game is the first commercially produced board game in the United States. In the game, created by Anne W. Abbott, a player encounters virtues such as honesty and temperance and vices such as cruelty and ingratitude along the 64 spaces on the board. A virtue sent a player ahead spaces, while a vice sent him back several spaces. The winner was the first one to the Mansion of Happiness.

At the turn of the century wealthy men such as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie were helping to shape the country. The economy was growing during the Industrial Revolution, and certain segments of the population began to notice growing gaps between the rich and poor. Henry George was a writer and economist of the late nineteenth century. He believed that land is a fixed asset that belongs to the people. As a society develops, rents increase and the landlords unfairly reap the benefits from the land they do not own. Elizabeth Magie was one of his most ardent disciples. In 1904 she invented a game called the Landlord's Game. The game has a striking resemblance to Monopoly. There are 40 spaces on a square board; they include railroads, utilities, a water company, and rental properties. Magie explains in the game's rules that the game is intended to entertain but also to show how "under the present or prevailing system of land tenure, the landlord has an advantage over other enterprises."

She took the game to Parker Brothers in 1924. They rejected the game. Copies of the game reportedly made their way to the economics departments of the University of Chicago and University of Philadelphia (Magie lived near each of them for periods of time). Reportedly, it developed a fan base there. The game's rules were tweaked and it developed the informal name of Monopoly. Knapp Electric issued a new version of the game called Finance. Heater salesman Charles Darrow began making homemade versions of the game to give to friends. His version of Finance strongly resembled the modern version of Monopoly. He took the game to Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers. Both rejected the game as too complicated; Parker Brothers famously told him the game had "52 fundamental playing errors." Parker Brothers later changed its mind when it learned of the game's strong sales in Philadelphia. Monopoly was sold in 80 countries and 26 different languages in the early twenty-first century and has sold more than 200 million copies.

The 1950s and 1960s

The mass production of board games truly began in the post war period in the United States. Plastics, metals, and other materials that had been needed for the war effort were now available. By the 1960s manufacturers would have greater understanding of plastics, molds, and precision cutting devices. As mass production developed it stimulated adjacent industries. The country's advertising industry became more robust. Manufacturers marketed board games in attractive ways and emphasized their entertainment value. Historians have noted certain trends that took place in the late 1940s. A soldier returned home and got married. These new couples started families and what followed was the baby boom. Many families then moved to the suburbs. The country enjoyed economic prosperity and leisure time increased.

Some very popular board games make their first appearance during the 1950s and 1960s. Alfred Butts first tried to market his word game Scrabble in the 1930s. In 1948 he met James Brunot. They tried to market the game together. In 1949 the Brunots made 2,400 sets and lost $450. The president of Macy's discovered the game in 1950 and started selling the game in his stores. Production soon could not meet demand. By 1953 a million copies of the game had been sold. Candyland, a popular game with children, was published in 1949. Anthony Ernest Pratt invented the game of Clue in 1944. Parker Brothers bought the game in 1948 and started marketing it. Yahtzee, published in 1956, is regarded as the grandfather of the modern dice game. The Game of Life was published in 1960. Charles F. Foley and Neil W. Rabens patented Twister in 1969.

1970s and Beyond

Some board games in the 1970s became much more sophisticated. In 1974 Tactical Studies Rules published the first edition of Dungeons and Dragons. The game has some of the elements of a traditional table-based game, with players, play pieces, and dice. However, this fantasy game marks the beginning of the role playing game genre. In the game a Dungeon Master acts as the game's director leading the other players through the dungeon. These players assume a particular character. They roll multi-sided dice to determine that character's attributes—his strength or agility, for example. Early games featured manuals to provide rules for the game, and miniature figures (orcs, elves, etc.) to represent the characters as they moved through the dungeon. The supernatural aspects of the game were troubling to some parents, and subsequent editions of the game have been modified.

Scott Abbott and Chris Haney invented Trivial Pursuit in 1979. Approximately 20 million copies of the game were sold in North America during the peak of the game's popularity. Nearly 88 million games had been sold in 26 countries and 17 languages by the end of 2004. In 1980 the game Civilization was published. Each player starts with a single population token, representing 7,000 people, and grows and expands his empire over the course of turns. The goal of the game is to be first to advance to the final age on the Archaeological Succession Table. The game has a loyal following because of its intelligent handling of its subject matter. The board game ceased publication in the United States. Intriguingly, it moved into a PC game format. The video game and home computer markets were developing quickly in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some board game makers thought them a fad while others viewed them as serious threats. Pictionary was the last popular game of the 1980s. Published in 1986, the game is played in teams. Players must draw certain objects to be identified by their teammates. Correct answers move them along a game board.

A few games were popular in the 1990s—Cranium, for example, published in 1998, went on to win several awards from trade associations. Marketers released board games based on favorite, classic characters or those that received brief cultural interest (The Smurfs, Captain Planet). Games in other formats became popular (Magic: The Gathering was released in 1993). Americans were quickly obtaining Internet access during this period and this new media would become a dominant focus of American's shrinking leisure time. A 2001 estimate suggested the average American had 26 hours of leisure time a week in 1973; by 1997, the figure had fallen to 17 hours.


Board Game Basics

Most board games are one of two types: race games, like Candyland and Parcheesi, or strategy games in which a player must rid himself of tokens, gain territory from his opponent, or the like. The board game industry is a reliable performer. There are several reasons for this stable performance. Among these reasons are the relatively low cost of board games and their ease of use. An interactive board game (Trivial Pursuit, for example) is typically priced from $24.99 to $49.99. A game made of cardboard or plastic sells for $11.99 to $19.99. Children are still the primary consumers, but the industry has evolved to include more games for adults and families.

Board game sales tend to increase near the end of the year as the holiday season approaches. The industry may not be as high profile as video games or other toy categories but it is just as competitive. As many as half of all new board games fail in their first year; of those remaining, another half fail in their second year. Creating a successful board game is clearly challenging. One must create a game with a minimal number of pieces, and with rules that are easily understood and require minimal math. The game should be completed in a reasonable amount of time, be played with 2 to 8 players and be able to fit in a box. This needs to be produced at a reasonable cost by the manufacturer. It also, of course, needs to be fun. Many inventors work each year to come up with the next hot game. Some game makers accept submissions but others do not. A 2002 report noted industry leader Hasbro receives 1,600 submissions for new games each year.

The Modern Board Game Market

The decade of the 1980s marks the arrival of two powerful competitors into the entertainment market: home computers and video games. The Commodore 64 was a powerful home computer that reached the market in 1982. Offering superior speed and graphics at the time, the computer reportedly sold 17 million units from 1982 through 1994. The Nintendo and Playstation 2 were two of the more popular gaming consoles. Super Mario and Pac-Man became pop culture references as common as Mr. Moneybags from the Monopoly game.

During this time manufacturers and advertisers became more keenly aware of the power of licensing and the economic power of young people. Certain characters starred in their own board games. The Cabbage Patch dolls, for example, enjoyed only a brief popularity with young girls in the 1980s; it was long enough, however, to get the dolls a board game of their own. Shipments of Cabbage Patch related materials (games, stickers, etc.) totaled $1 billion in 1984. Board games were also released based on Captain Planet, the Goonies movie, and other properties.

This form of marketing helped keep sales strong in the board game industry. In 1988 board game sales increased 14.5 percent from $810 million in 1987 to $950 million in 1988, according to the Toy Manufacturers Association. Unit sales increased 193 million to 205 million over the same period. The low cost of many games helped keep the market performing as well. The average price of a board game in 1988 was $9.67. Board games have always been popular with children, of course. In the 1980s analysts noticed that more families seemed to be playing them together. As well, a new market sector developed: board games for adults. The popular Trivial Pursuit game essentially created this category. Popular games from 1988 were Pictionary; Outburst; Jenga; Win, Lose or Draw; and Balderdash.

Perennial favorites like Monopoly drive the market as do games that become hot. In 1989 classic games such as Monopoly, Clue, and Twister were on the best seller list. That same year, Donald Trump, business executive and entrepreneur, launched the Trump game, in which players buy and sell real estate properties. Trump claimed the first edition of this game sold 1 million copies. Board games leveled off slightly in 1990 as the country entered a recession. Sales were strong enough however that the NPD Group, a leading industry tracking firm, decided to start tracking adult game sales separately for the first time.

In the mid-1990s the toy industry saw increased interest in educational toys. Some toys have always been marketed as such, of course, but one can not help but wonder if such games appeared in response to popular but mindless video games. The company Leapfrog was founded in 1995. The company quickly became a leader in the market for electronic toys that help children learn to read and write. The board game industry seems to have followed the trend. In 1994, We the People, a game set during the Revolutionary War, was published. It has been credited with starting the war game genre that would be adopted by video games. In 1995 Mayfair Games pushed its English language version of the Settlers of Catan (the game was first published in Germany). Players must build roads and erect cities in this game. In 2006, according to Mayfair Games, more than 11 million copies of the game have been sold since its debut. The game Cranium was published in 1998 and requires its players to engage in tasks that draw on their language, performance, and art skills.

Americans quickly embraced DVD technology when it first arrived in the late 1990s. Manufacturers began to adopt this technology into their games in an effort to stimulate the category. Hasbro released the Twister game with a DVD of dance moves. Screenlife LLC released its SceneIT? Movie Edition in 2002. The game incorporates the DVD technology with the board game technology; players must answers questions based on film clips to move around the board. The company has sold nearly 10 million copies and publishes 20 different titles. This new DVD game genre generated annual sales of $200 million from 2003 to 2006. Other titles exist based on American Idol, Harry Potter, and James Bond.

Incorporating DVDs into board games is seen as a major innovation to the board game market. This happened just as some other games were showing their age. By 2002 Trivial Pursuit sales had fallen to $15 million, a 98 percent drop from the game's 1984 sales peak. The only players who seemed to be left, one Business Week article noted, were those "who do crossword puzzles in ink." Hasbro chose to release pop culture versions of the game. The marketing plan succeeded; unit sales of the game jumped from 500,000 in 2001 to 2.4 million in 2004. This was good news for Hasbro, but it was seen as troubling by many who thought it a sign of a culture that too often appears to favor the less intellectual. While a player once had to know something about Julius Caesar or French history, contemporary players must now draw on knowledge of celebrities and pop music.

Some analysts believe that more Americans were staying closer to home after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Board games saw a small increase in shipments. Manufacturer shipments of nonelectronic games and puzzles increased from $393.7 million in 2002 to $483.6 million in 2003, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2003 retail sales of board games totaled $870 million; another estimate suggested the industry topped $1 billion. About 34 establishments made board games in 2002 as their primary product. Other toy companies made board games as side ventures; the Census reports that there were 742 establishments engaged in the overall toy, game, and children's vehicle market in this year. According to Market Share Reporter 2007, Hasbro's acquisitions of Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers gave it a 75 percent share of all board game manufacturing in the United States in 2005. Mattel was second in the market with a 15 percent market share. Board game sales totaled $870 million in 2006, up from $706.2 million in 2005, according to the NPD Group.


Hasbro, Inc.

Hasbro began in 1923, when two brothers founded a small store in Providence, Rhode Island. Henry and Helal Hassenfeld's store was known as Hassenfeld Brothers Inc., and they started off selling textile remnants. These cloth remnants were used to line hats and pencil boxes. They soon decided to start making the pencil boxes and school supplies themselves. From there, the eight company employees, all family members, ventured into toy making. Their first offerings included wax crayons, paint sets, and doctor kits.

The company was primarily a toy maker by the early 1940s. The company was on its way to producing lines of toys that have become classics. In 1952 Hasbro produced Mr. Potato Head, the first toy to be advertised on television. In 1954 it became a licensee for Disney characters. In 1964 the company introduced the G.I. Joe action figure. The company would cease production of G.I. Joe in 1975. There were several reasons the action figure was discontinued. The increased cost of plastics in the mid-1970s made producing the G.I. Joe unattractive. Concerns with violence were another. Consumers were increasingly concerned with violent, military-themed toys and arcade games. Disquiet with the Vietnam War was fresh in the minds of many parents as well. The G.I. Joe was reissued in 1982.

In 1968 the company changed its name to Hasbro Industries Inc.; it had actually produced toys under the trade name Hasbro for some time. In the 1970s the company expanded into some ill conceived ventures. In 1970 it expanded into the nursery school market through the Romper Room brand name. It also produced cookware associated with the Galloping Gourmet. The company deemed its Javelin Darts toy unsafe. Some of its toys simply performed poorly in the market.

The 1970s also mark the beginning of some key acquisitions for Hasbro. In 1977 it bought the rights to license the Peanuts characters. It purchased assets from Warner Communications in 1983, including the rights to Raggedy Ann and Andy. In 1983 it acquired GLENCO Infant Items, the world's largest maker of bibs. In 1984 it acquired Milton Bradley, which gave the company more of the board game industry's biggest titles: The Game of Life, Candy Land, Scrabble, and Chutes and Ladders. In 1989 it acquired Coleco Industries, maker of the Cabbage Patch dolls. In 1991 Hasbro acquired the Tonka Corporation, including its Kenner Products and Parker Brothers divisions. The acquisition brought Play-Doh, Easy Bake Oven, Nerf, Monopoly, and some Star Wars and Batman properties into Hasbro's holdings.

Mattel, Inc.

In 1945 Ruth and Elliot Handler and Harold Matson created Mattel Creations, which made dollhouse furniture and picture frames. In 1959 the company introduced Barbie to the world. Reportedly Ruth created the doll when she noticed her daughter Barbara's preference for adult dolls over her baby dolls; the name for Ruth's new doll was also inspired by their nickname for their daughter. The doll was a hit and it remains the best-selling toy of all time as of 2006.

Mattel continued to introduce popular toys through the 1960s, such as the Chatty Cathy doll and the Hot Wheels cars. Like Hasbro, it also began rapidly acquiring companies, absorbing a dozen companies before 1970. The company made some missteps and neared bankruptcy in the 1980s. New management helped turn the company around, as did its 1993 merger with Fisher Price, the world leader in infant and preschool toys. In 1998 it reached an agreement with Walt Disney to produce toys for the company (the company had sponsored the Mickey Mouse Show in 1955). The company, headquartered in El Segundo, California, employed 32,000 people and had revenues of $5.6 billion for the year ended December 2006.

Fundex Games

Fundex was founded in 1986 and is based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Fundex is the producer of a number of games and has received many awards from trade groups and parents organizations for their products. Its bestsellers include What's in Ned's Head, Booby Trap, and Gnip Gnop. It has an exclusive relationship with the Professional Domino Association to market its products. From 1996 to 2005 the company grew from eight to 50 full time employees and spends $200,000 annually marketing its products. The company had an estimated 3 percent market share in 2005.

Cranium Inc.

Richard Tait and Whit Alexander invented the game of Cranium in 1998. The game was launched through Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, and These were unusual distribution points—Starbucks and had just arrived on the American retail scene, but the game found a following among the customers of these companies. Cranium Inc. has developed games for fifteen international markets and has sold some 6 million units in the United States alone. Cranium won the Game of the Year awards at the American International Toy Fair, the industry's annual trade show, in 2001 and 2002. The company has made a version for children. Its other games include Hoopla and Ziggity, released in 2003 and 2004 respectively. The company is based in Seattle, Washington.


The materials used in a board game vary depending on the game, of course. Most game pieces are made from plastic using an injection molding process. Various polymers, iron oxides, and dyes are used in the coloring process. Dice are also made from plastic. Their manufacturing process is similar to game pieces. The plastic used must be easily colored, heat stable, and durable. The gameboard is typically made of chipboard with a laminated cover featuring some sort of graphic (the spaces a player must move to, for example). The laminated coating also increases the gameboard's durability. The packaging is an important part of the production process. The box features color photos on its lid. Often this photo is of a group of children or adults enjoying themselves as they play the game. This artwork must be designed, photographed with models, and printed.


The toy industry is adapting to a changing market in which children are putting down traditional toys at earlier ages for more high-tech gadgets. This means board game makers must fight for shelf space at Wal-Mart and other mass merchandisers. Traditional toy stores also must compete for shoppers, who often turn to discount stores and online stores to make their purchases. U.S. toy sales moved up to $22.3 billion in 2006.

According to Market Share Reporter 2007, 55 percent of all toys and games were sold at mass merchandisers and discount stores in 2006. Toy stores represented 18 percent of sales. Another 6 percent of toys were sold online. Other markets such as food stores, drug stores, and department stores represented the other 21 percent of the market.


Both children and adults play board games. Families often have game nights, which provides them with entertainment at a far cheaper cost than a trip to the movies or a sporting event in a big city. Psychologists have long pointed to the positive features of board games. Such activities promote critical thinking and good sportsmanship. Games once were used to provide moral instruction and still are. A market for religious games first blossomed in the 1980s. There are Christian versions of Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly; in the latter, churches rather than hotels are built. The National Scrabble Association sanctions over 150 Scrabble tournaments and more than 200 clubs in the United States and Canada every year. Monopoly, reportedly played by more than 750 million people since its creation in 1935, has its own tournaments each year attended by thousands.


Just as Hasbro and Mattel lead in the board game market, they are also leaders in the toy market. As stated, the two firms produce or license some of the most well known brands in the toy market: Hot Wheels, Sesame Street, Fisher Price, Star Wars, Batman, and Barbie. Both are publicly traded with Mattel reporting sales of $5.1 billion and Hasbro $3.1 billion in their most recent fiscal year.

The toy industry is dominated by four major product categories: electronics, vehicles, arts & crafts, and infant/preschool products. These four categories represented $9 billion in retail sales in 2005. Even as this industry enjoys strong sales, its manufacturing base has moved overseas. This trend in production began in the 1990s. In 1993, according to government statistics, there were 42,300 workers in the industry. By 2005 that figure had dropped to 17,400 workers.


Board game makers continually bring updates and innovations to their products. Hasbro introduced a new version of Monopoly in 2006 that dispensed with Boardwalk and other game-board spaces named after sites in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and landmarks from U.S. cities. DVDs are being incorporated into games to make the experience more interactive and exciting. But others are looking at board games in more serious ways. Psychologists have long seen such games as revealing of human behavior, from how humans handle competition to our likelihood to cheat. Scientists have only just begun to see how the mental activity involved in game playing might delay the onset of Alzheimer's and other diseases. Computer programmers use games as useful ways to test the limits of a computer system. In 1997 a computer famously beat chess champion Gary Kasparov. In 2005 it was announced that a computer had solved the notoriously challenging game Go for a 5×5 playing board.


There has been a growing chorus of voices noting how Americans are overworked, stressed out, and short of time. Some people like the idea of board games, but dislike the time necessary to sit down and actually play them to completion. Recognizing this, Hasbro has released streamlined versions of some of its games. The Game of Life that uses a Visa card rather than cash and electronically keeps track of points—both keep the game moving. In 2007 Express versions of some classic games were released: Monopoly Express, Scrabble Express, and Sorry Express.


Considering the popularity of DVDs, video game consoles, and online games, one may be surprised that the board game industry continues to see strong sales. When such new media appeared, more than a few parents and toy store owners feared the demise of classic games that had been popular during their early years.

Will Manley, a columnist in a 1995 Booklist article predicted that board games would be obsolete in 20 years. He laments that children don't have the patience for board games because they are too hooked on the violence and speed of video games. He speaks for many when he extols the pleasures of board games: "There's a certain lei-surely comfort involved with popping a big bowl of popcorn, pouring everyone a steamy cup of hot chocolate, and spreading out an oversize playing board on the kitchen table during a frosty February afternoon. Likewise, nothing beats heading to the beach on a sunny day in July with a transistor radio, a cooler full of Squirt, and a game of Scrabble. The best feature of board games, of course, is the fact that they are slow. They take the hurry out of life. There are no unnerving beeps to nudge you along and no blinking screens to raise your blood pressure. If you want to conquer the world or even just Atlantic City, you can take your own sweet time doing it." Setting aside Manley's reference to a transistor radio, his description feels just as timely and relevant as readers must have found it then. In 2015, the year Manley predicted board games would go the way of the dodo bird, the Census Bureau predicts there will be about 49.5 million children under 12 years of age. One hopes they too will discover the simple pleasures of which Manley speaks.


American Specialty Toy Association,

Game Manufacturers Association,


National Scrabble Association,

Toy Industries Association,


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