With the back door open, letting in the cool July breeze, I sit at a kitchen table with my best friend, aunt and uncle in Seattle, Washington. In front of us lie cardboard tiles and the little painted men that represent us. We’re claiming cities and farmland, laughing and just enjoying ourselves. As the game winds down, we move out of medieval France and into Germany, starting a different game where we compete to own as many power companies as we can. We played for hours, not realizing how late it had become. It’s one of my fondest summer memories.
I have always loved board games, and as I have gotten older, I have found that I appreciate them more. From beautiful artwork to interesting game play, they offer a tangibility that video games can’t. Even the idea of just getting together with friends and family to do something other than sit in front of the television is appealing.
But after arriving back home from our Seattle vacation, the game pieces long ago placed back in their boxes, I realized that the joy of board games like the ones we played, “Carcassonne” and “Power Grid,” is unattainable to me for one reason and one reason only: money.
Board games cost too much to buy regularly. Even if it’s just a simple card-based party game, you probably won’t be able to buy it for less than $25. Whenever I find myself browsing the retail game aisles, I always go in with the hope that I will be able to bring home something good. And each time, I walk away with nothing.
It’s disappointing really. I have a growing list of games I’d like to own, but the more I add to the list, the more unrealistic it becomes, because they are just too expensive to buy.
It seems a little silly to expect people to pay so much for board games when there are so many other modes of entertainment that are more accessible to everyone. Why would someone pay $25 (or more) for a board game when they only pay $11 per month for a Netflix subscription? As much as I enjoy games and hate to admit it, this is why it’s a dying pastime. Not even fans of board games can escape the temptation of just doing what is more convenient.
Even games for kids are expensive. It’s no wonder board games have an adult-based demographic – because kids don’t want to waste what little resources they have.
There’s a kind of elegance that comes with opening a game box and going through the set-up process and assigning turn order. I think it’s even more special when you get the opportunity to teach a first-timer the ins and outs of playing. I don’t want to see board games die out because of supposed market values that cause the games to basically be made for the upper class only. It’s bad enough that there are people without enough patience to sit down and play, so I don’t think that it’s fair to have money be an issue on top of that.
I realize that it’s unrealistic to expect other people to have my same board game experiences, and not everybody is going to feel that it’s an important medium to keep alive, but when you have memories of game nights with friends or family, it makes the whole idea special, and just like any other special memory, you want to protect it.
While there are alternatives to board games that I’m sure are just as fun, I don’t want my lack of money to be the reason that I can’t have a variety of games to play. I’m not saying that game companies should make their products incredibly cheap, just maybe more reasonable. Even $10 can be the difference between buying a game or going without.
Maybe someday game nights like the one in Seattle will be a regular thing for me, but for now, I’ll just have to save my money and choose wisely.