fbpx

2021 Board Game Trends

In today's article, Nate dives into 2021 board game trends!

2020 was something else. Social distancing due to COVID-19 caused some game groups to go online, cancel the fun, or play through masks. It was also a year of racial reckoning and political chaos.

The funny thing is, this is all pretty well represented in the state of board gaming today when you look at the numbers.

With the exception of Twilight Struggle, all the games in the current top 10 entered this tier within the last 5 years. The volatility in the top 10 may be due to the increase in the number of games being published each year, resulting in more competition.​

When Monopoly was released in 1933, less than 100 games came out that year. Now, over 4,000 games are being released every year.

Even with this macro trend, there were nearly 400 fewer games released in 2020 (4,295) compared to the previous year (4,684). This could be explained by a reporting lag, or it could be a COVID-19 dip. Time will tell.

The last time there was a decrease year over year was a decade ago in 2008, which is the year Pandemic was released. Weird context not intended?

Regarding gender and racial representation, we still have a long way to go in the board gaming industry. For instance, in 2020 Analog Game Studies analyzed the rulebooks of the top 40 games on BoardGameGeek. They found 73.8% (1,107) references to “he” and 26.2% (392) references to “she.”

Representation in cover art tells a similar story. In 2018 Analog Game Studies analyzed cover art for the top 100 BoardGameGeek games. Author Tanya Pobuda puts one of the harshest findings this way:

“As a consumer of the Top 100 BGG games, one would be slightly more likely to see an image of an alien or barnyard animal (horses, sheep, birds, dogs) than one would be likely to see board game cover art with a woman.”

Women were underrepresented, but also people of color. You are nearly 6 times more likely to see a white person on the cover of a board game than a non-white person according to this analysis.

In the same study, it was found that among the board game designers of the top 200 board games on BoardGameGeek in 2018, a towering 93.5% were white males.

Obviously there is more work for both our society and the board game industry. May we enter 2021 with the benchmark of the past as context, and our actions as the driving force for more representation in board gaming. Happy new year!

Tags

About the author

Nathan Baker

Nate lives with his wife, two children, two Great Pyrenees, and four free-range cats just south of Nashville, Tennessee in a small town called Franklin. When he’s not pushing the reporting industry forward, Nate makes cocktails for friends, plays board games, designs board games, and builds apps about board games.

Loading comments...

Subscribe to Meeple Mountain!

Resources for Board Gamers

  • 36+ Holiday Board Game Gifts for 2021

    Our epic holiday board game gift guide has nearly 30 recommendations for every kind of board gamer! There are wallet-sized games and wallet-friendly games. There are games for the first timer and for friends who have been playing for years. From lightweight stocking stuffer games you can play in minutes to multi-hour games your gamer will love. Read more…

  • Board Game Giveaways

    Enter a Board Game Giveaway! Enter each board game giveaway and you could win free board games from some of… Read more…

  • Tennessee Meeple T-Shirt

    Now you too can show pride in your state, and more importantly your love of board gaming. The Tennessee Meeple t-shirt is printed on soft and comfortable 100% ring-spun Anvil 980 t-shirts and is available in sizes S through XXXL. Read more…

  • The 2022-2023 Guide To Board Game Conventions

    Looking to attend a board game convention? Our guide to board game conventions can help you decide what to pack, play, and pass on! Read more…

Board Game Categories