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Why the Public Needs Board Games to Make a ‘Comeback’

The public often winces at the word “comeback” because—from Pabst Blue Ribbon and Penny Loafers to vinyl records and pickled vegetables—we know that all related stories will somehow lead to Hipsters in Brooklyn, a group of guys wearing black glasses, flannel shirts and “creative” mustaches.

The “comeback” is now a cliché.

But we’re excited about the comeback of board games from a PR perspective, because it doesn’t further the tired dream of being quirky or ironic or desperately different than everyone else. Quite the opposite; board games are all about connecting with people and creating a shared experience based on sameness. They’re about people actually wanting to be with other people. Shocking!

Take Ticket to Ride, King of Tokyo or Dominion, for example–old school titles that are selling briskly and leading the board game comeback. In fact, many mobile game makers have actually converted their products into plain old board games. What, exactly, is going on here from a public relations perspective? And what’s next? Burning downloaded music onto CDs? Landline Internet connections? The return of headbands….err, wait.

Everything in life has its limits, and the degree to which human beings are willing to immerse themselves in virtual reality (thereby moving further and further from actual people) has its limits too. We all love to escape into the Internet, but we don’t want to disappear completely, no matter how realistic the games become. People need other people with them; it puts the relations in public relations. This is why solitary confinement is such an effective punishment.

The Internet can connect you with someone who shares your love of antique ceramic elephants, but it can’t inform you that their breath smells like cat food. Believe it or not, basic senses remain important to people–and until the Internet figures out a way to connect people with other real people as people, it will never be as good as real life.

So maybe it’s not board games that are making a “comeback” at all. Maybe it’s just a case of humanity sticking to the basics.

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