One of the reasons cited for the downturn in RPGs and board games was the popularity of video games. Home consoles and advances in personal computers created a market where no one had to leave the house to visit an arcade, making video games a surprising recession resistant market despite the high price tag. With the invention of tablets and smart phones it seemed for a few years that analog tabletop gaming was marching to an inevitable death. Like the model railroad hobby, perhaps all that would be left would be an aging demographic stalled and frozen in the old days and the old ways. Yet, recently that seems to have changed. A lot of factors are involved, in addition to a bit of serendipity. Game designers coming up with interesting, well designed games to attract a younger set, gaming stores becoming bright, spacious areas, parents introducing the next generation to gaming and the rise of what the media called “geek culture” into the mainstream.
A news station in Minnesota recently reported on the rise of gaming and how places like Fantasy Flight Games’ game center is now becoming a trip destination. It is a cool place with food offerings, coffee bar and craft beer. In the article, a family from England decided to forego a family vacation to Disney World and instead visit Minnesota so that their kids could see the headquarters and gaming center for the maker of their favorite Star Wars game. I would not have thought of my state as an International vacation destination, but I’m not going to deny it either!