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03/10/2010

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r4

The board game revolution is so fast.So the board game industry's pressure is self-evident.

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This board game industry has a tremendous changes.You share really a great article it has a valuable information.

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Wendy Love

Board games creators, just as the other industries, must learn to concentrate and diversify their offer for all the consumers, be them males, females, youngsters or grandparents. Resources and inspiration are outhere, all they need to do is find a way to get their products sold, despite the tidal wave of the internet games.

The Game Whisperer

David,

You make an excellent point. Each store is as individualized as the games themselves. What we expect to see is a blending and separating of game stores. The public gathering type places will continue to grow in number and influence, while the specialty stores will shift to even more extreme to attract the target market that focuses on the more fringe type games.

David Veal

We produce a board game and found that board game stores are as different as the owners. I have one down the street from us that is a coffee house, comic book store, board game store and gathers in as many family functions as business functions and board game enthusiasts. It's clean, well lit and they know their products. I was introduced to Settlers of Catan there. Every type of strategy game is played with wizards and warriors and all of that.

There are more women in the store having coffee than men almost anytime of the day. Hey, they have live Jazz night on Fridays.

Another board game store I visited in Las Vegas was the dark hole of gamer land. Not so clean floors, posters of anything but women friendly subject matter, games piled up neatly but here and there at the same time. Tables in the back for with rough tops to them. Felt kinda weird going to the back of the store. Okay, sounds a bit exaggerated. But I'm close in this description. Good people, but not really customer aware.

I would go to either place personally, but I know which one my wife would feel at ease in .

Richard Bliss

@William,

It would appear that as new people come into the hobby, there are going to be clashes of expectations on both sides of the gaming table. The integration of very different types of players is a key determinant on the future growth and success of the board game industry.

William Baldwin

While I am largely in agreement with this article and find that every post has made a point, I really can't stand to hear phrases like "unapproachable men" being used... most gamers, regardless of appearance, aren't of an attitude that "they do not want me there and if I wanted to play a game I would have to go elsewhere."

I do not know the comment poster, but that sounds like someone that has their own issues more than the other way around.

The Game Whisperer

Kris,

Thank you for taking the time for posting your comment. You are not alone. The Game Whisperer visits games stores all over the US and interviews any women he finds in the store. Often times they are there because of a son or husband, and will be towing a child or two along while the husband browses the shelves.

All of these women enjoy playing games, which is one reason they are even there, but nearly all express a dissatisfaction with the situation. None are as articulate as you are with expressing what is bothering them. But their eyes light up when asked about being uncomfortable with the imagery, or the game themes, or which games do they really enjoy playing. There is pent up demand from a very large portion of the market, and game store owners are often unaware that these customers are going somewhere else, like Target or Barnes & Noble.

The Game Whisperer

Gavan,

Your comment does identify that violence and sex are a relative term when compared to the video game industry.

In this case it is the impact that even mild sexism (if there is such a thing) and violent scenes or themes tend to discourage women from even becoming involved with a particular game, game store, or game company.

These game companies must begin to do fundamental marketing and brand awareness or they are going to get buried.

Kris Todd

I find it really interesting that the people posting negative comments are predominantly men.
The issue as I see it is very different than what current game store owners would see. I believe, IF the game store owners shared my view then they would change their stores.

I am a woman, a mother and I love to play challenging board games.

However, there is no way I would ever want to go into a game store if I did not HAVE to.

Let me give you a sample of what I experience when I walk into a game store.

First, I am bombarded with the overwhelming smell of dense body orders, as if fresh air or air conditioning was not an option.
Next, I see the dark walls lined with with posters of scantily clothed offensive cartoon women with their breasts larger then their brains. Lest we not forget all the demonic and scary themed ones as well.
Next, the game displays and shelves. If you want to find a game, forget alphabetical order, forget displays by company, forget organization at all. More than likely I will have to go through every shelf and every game to find Duck-Duck Go for my little girl. That is if they have it.
Then there is the back room, lined with table after table of unapproachable men hovered over scary looking games. A room reminiscent of the card rooms of old. It is obvious they do not want me there and if I wanted to play a game I would have to go elsewhere.

Nothing is clean, nothing is in order, the stores are not inviting to me as a woman, they are scary places for my little girl and every time I enter a store the people that work there ask me if I am lost and assume I have wandered into the wrong store.

If you are assuming that I have only been in a few stores, your wrong. I have been in stores around the country and except for the occasional exception to the rule, each store I have entered are like I have described above.

I believe that the game store owner is so use to the status quo that they do not see anything wrong with their store.

For myself and most of the women I know, we would much rather go to Barnes and Noble or Target to buy a game. A place that is bright, clean, organized, and has a clean bathroom.

The reality is women play board games but they have not been invited to play at the same table with the men. I believe the games stores as we know them would rather we stay away. That is why they keep the stores in their current condition.

Sadly for the game store owner, Barnes and Noble and Target realize where the money is and who has the buying power in the US.

Game store owners, take a look around you. Count the number of women who enter your store, watch what they do and how they are treated. Then ask around, see if they have the same experience as I do when entering a game store.

Gavan Brown

Coming from a videogame background, I find the lack of violence and sex EXTREMELY refreshing in boardgaming. Boardgame themes are a welcome change to the standard blood, gore, and breasts that I am COMPLETELY bored with in videogames. I agree that the market is ready for a "bigboy" to step up and be the EB Games, or GameStop, of the boardgame world. Fantasy Flight is taking it upon themselves to do something about the retail situation with their event center.

I also agree with the previous poster that not enough marketing material (posters, give aways) are supplied to retailers from publishers.

The bottom line is, it is time for the retail sector of this industry to start growing at at least the same rate the hobby is growing, and right now that doesn't seem to be happening.

Richard Bliss

Gary, as a FLGS owner, you have insight into the market, but I am still standing by what I'm saying.

First, sex, or sexism, is still extremely prevalent in the board game industry. Your current facebook posting for Black Diamond has a Magic:The Gathering card with a Janet Jackson equipment malfunction look alike. An elf berserker that is semi-nude may be fantasy, but it is this depiction of women in the game that is a big turn-off to women looking to enter the board game industry.

Next, the FLGS is a wonderful gathering place for like-minded hobbiests but it is not a channel for successful mass marketing of board games. And we are not talking about Sorry, Clue, and Stratego.

Major chains, including Target, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, and online giant Amazon are all now carrying Settlers of Catan. Settlers of Catan is moving the adult board game industry from a cottage industry to mainstream and The Game Whisperer research is showing that it is women who are driving this growth. And these women are very unlikely to enter a FLGS that caters to Violence, Sexism, and Occult like games.

Last, the point that we agree on. Settlers of Catan is succeeding in spite of Mayfair's marketing, not because of it. I completely agree that the game companies are losing the marketing initiative. I have heard a very successful game designer publicly say that a lot of marketing isn't needed because a good game will sell itself.

A tiny little bit of support to the FLGS with marketing material would have a tremendous affect on sales.

Gary Ray

Bunk.

First, game stores do have a problem with some violent imagery, usually abstract references to war (Warhammer, Warmachine, Flames of War, war, war, war). They also have a tendency to have problems not associated with war, generally cleanliness and organization.

Second, sex is anethema to gamers. Sex scares them. It's one more taboo that they don't need to cross in their leisure time. They don't want sex in their games. You are unlikely to find sex in games or sexual imagery for the most part, except for a couple of mildly sexy card sleeve protectors and perhaps the occasional Magic poster. There is very little sex, surprisingly, for a set of hobbies that primarily attracts young men.

Blaming game stores for being a bottle neck is off the mark. Relying on book store chains as the answer, a group in as much peril as the FLGS (friendly local game store), is like jumping out of a small leaky boat to a larger leaky boat. Board games require hand selling. You will not get that from the clerk at Barnes & Noble. You MAY get that from the clerk at your local game store, at least a good game store. There is a term we use for board games that are sold mass market: "games we used to sell."

The problem, I'm guessing, is that board game companies are running into distribution as the gate keeper. This is happening in other small areas of the game industry and as the economy improves, and we have more innovative, small press games, will likely happen more often.

So back to game stores. Does Mayfair Games offer banners or posters? How about Rio Grande? How about ANY board game manufacturer? If they think they problem is violent imagery, they need to provide merchandising materials to game stores to promote their games. At this stage, no board game publisher provides any such thing (although Days of Wonder provides a wonderful DVD). If you don't like the view, change it.

Gary Ray
Black Diamond Games, Ltd.
1950 Market Street, Suite E
Concord, CA 94520

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