Most of us have a memory of playing a traditional board game with friends or family at some point or another. This ritual used to be a communal crowdpleaser, with classics like Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly providing us with hours upon hours of fun. Or frustration, depending on the roll of the dice. The thing is, the board game world is one of the many to have been digitized in recent years, with online, mobile, console and PC versions of popular board game titles now widely available.
What are these digital versions of board classics like, why are they so popular and should we be consigning our boards and dice to the trash can?
Digital board games
Digitization of this popular format has helped the diversification and availability of great board titles. Instead of heading out to a toy store or bookshop, you can find a quality board game in your app store ready for you to download in seconds. There is also greater variety due to increasing demand for fresh and innovative games, as well as board games based on figures from popular cultures, such as Penny Dreadful Clue and Zelda Monopoly.
Board games can still be enjoyed with friends, as many of these titles have multiplayer facilities. The advantage of playing on your own against the computer is that you can get some practice in before matching up against your real rival(s). Some would argue that this spoils the fun by detracting from the “chance” element of board games, though many classics did rely on a good strategy, just as much as recent iterations often do. In terms of classic adaptations, like Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne, these are usually faithfully recreated with appealing graphics and clear instructions. It is relatively simple for modern developers to transfer board graphics to our screens, while game mechanics are much easier to build than for RPG or world-building genre alternatives.
Board titles were ripe for adaptation, with a surge in the popularity of classic and indie games worldwide in 2019. Most household names already had a console and mobile versions, as well as more niche adaptations, such as in iGaming. Monopoly is the best example of a game that has succeeded hugely away from the board, with the Waddington’s classic cropping up everywhere from the mobile slots at Lucky Pants Bingo to the Nintendo Game Boy. iGaming has worked wonders for the Monopoly franchise, particularly as a jackpot or exclusive slot game, as the familiar thrill of beating the bank is easy to transfer to this medium. These titles now stand out among the best online slots games.
Classic board games
Traditional board games with their boxes, pieces, and instructions were always notoriously associated with family Christmases and bad dinner parties. However, the recent renaissance of board titles has not been restricted to their digital counterparts. The classic board game has become a hip pastime, allowing friends to connect over something engaging and fun, without costing them the world. Indeed, they are now so cool that many people enjoy them in public places, like bars and pubs, getting them out of the house and away from screens.
It is quite pleasing that a new format with potential and an old one with familiarity can enjoy this combined resurgence together, complementing one another rather than tripping the other up. Boardgame makers have long championed their best titles for digital reimaginings, so the onset of the digital takeover is not so ominous. Classic boxed games retain their nostalgic charm and appeal as a healthy pastime, catering for those who might want a break from their computer or mobile device.