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Above the Table – Trend Setters of Catan

In Above the Table we will cover discussions of all things gaming related. This column also gives the Meeple bloggers a thinly veiled excuse to occasionally wax philosophical and indulge in some hopefully entertaining navel gazing.

Like Mulder searching for the truth, the stereotypes of the “prototypical” board gamer are out there. We won’t describe those preconceived notions here, as they are insulting, however, the evolution of board gaming—and those who play them—is in full swing.

The plain fact is that board gamers aren’t deserving of the litany of adjectives previously used to describe them in modern culture. No, board gamers are no longer the butt of jokes, rather they are becoming more and more prominent as our culture develops a love of gaming, without processers, hard drives and intense graphics, but cardboard, plastic pieces and cards.

The rise of the gamer has been heralded in thanks to the smashing, addictive success of games such as Settlers of Catan.

“Over the past few years, Settlers of Catan has transformed from an activity enjoyed by a small niche of gamers into a mainstream hit,” according to a June 2011 article in The Atlantic. “With sales nearing 25 million copies worldwide, Settlers of Catan is becoming the most popular board game since Risk and Monopoly.”

The data backing up the popularity of board gaming doesn’t stop there. Stores and online outlets are seeing increased sales across the “board” (pun completely intended).

“Sales of board games are up between 15 and 20 percent in the last several years, according to ICv2, a trade publication that tracks the business of games. Amazon reported that between 2012 and 2013, there was a double-digit increase in board game sales,” according to LancasterOnline.

Board games don’t have to be marathon days of challenging puzzles and mysteries, and they don’t have to be played by four year olds. There are games for all types of personalities and levels. In a society plagued by the smart phone and tablet overtaking family communication, it offers people a chance to protect their vision—and their relationships.

Picture this: two people from different backgrounds and cultures, coming together across a table, playing a game. Both find engagement and interest in the same thing and the barriers that may have once separated them in society become blurred and soon “weird” and “normal” aren’t so black and white.

You can see this at The Malted Meeple. All sorts of people come together over delicious milkshakes, craft beers and a wall of 125 awesome games. Bonding is inevitable.

That’s the power of gaming and is just one more reason gamers are awesome: They’re ahead of the curve.

Meeple Don Polyak

Don Polyak is a lifelong gamer, from cards (poker), Avalon Hill (military games) to Ticket to Ride (time with the kids.) He believes that games teach lessons that apply to life and business. Don, his wife Mandy and five children maintain family “game-time” as one of their favorite ways to have fun and connect. Don is the co-founder of The Impact Group, and one of the proud owners of The Malted Meeple.

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