An Analysis of Indie Board Games and What Makes Them Popular

There are quite a number of board games out there (some entertaining and some a headache). However, we see indie games pop up all of the time. There are even hobby shops dedicated to selling and introducing board games to their general area. Interestingly enough, these games do not seem to have the same media presence that more commercial board games enjoy (anything by Hasbro, for example), yet some games have become incredibly popular. Why is this? What makes them so much fun to pick up and play? Is this all handled by enthusiastic tabletop gamers who make it their only mission to bless the world with the games that they love?

It is worth exploring the indie board game world as a whole and it is worth looking at what makes them popular, despite their powerful competition.

Maybe this topic is just one more enthusiastic tabletop gamer’s attempt to bless the world with indie board games.

  • The popularity of indie board games seems to be a fairly recent trend, not that indie board games haven't been around for much longer. I think they were more popular until the invention of video games and that games from smaller creators and publishers have struggled to compete with the ubiquity of video games. Even a massively popular game like Settlers of Catan was released well after it was possible to own their own video game consoles in their homes. Hasbro and Parker Bros and the like had the benefit of starting when board games were about the most sophisticated forms of group home entertainment around. – chrischan 8 years ago
  • I think looking at the rise of German style board games is important. One criticism I have of American style games that I played as a child was that you eliminated your opponents, so there would be a point where only two people are left in a 6-player game, and the end could take another hour to resolve. In a game like ticket to ride, settlers or scrabble everyone stays to the end. This keeps evreyone involved to the end, and makes games more fun to play. – ahalbert 8 years ago
  • The whole indie board game culture appears to be rather new. This is unlike the Hasbro company that has been around a while longer. Although indie games do not get a lot of exposure, like hasbro games do, they still get a name for themselves. Games like Coup and Pandemic are being played by celebrities (Will Wheaton) as youtube channels and consequently kids and adults are spending their time watching these videos and it peaks their interests them and gets them involved in some way or another. – gamorth 8 years ago
  • Every avid gamer thinks they can design a game, and sometimes it may not cost a lot to actually bring a blueprint to a playable format. Game design workshops and tournaments also pop up everywhere in the country. All this may explain the frequent release of indie games in the last two decades or so. It is, however, one thing that a game is playable but another thing that it is actually fun. I have play-tested a number of games and can affirm that game design is a grueling process: the mechanics, balance of power of different factions, balance of luck and skills, instructions, graphics, and so on. If you don't hate playing your game after this process, you probably haven't tested it enough. But if you can put all the pieces together and have an original idea, your game can become popular. The large gaming companies have the advantage of experience and a good sense of the market. Hence, indie games really need to be very good to take a share from them. – ctshng 4 years ago

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