Tag Archives: play without fear

board games are “making a comeback”

Since 1990, we’ve been told that board games are “making a comeback.”

Every few weeks we see another article in a local newspaper or hear another story on the radio about how board games are “making a comeback” or “gaining in popularity” compared to video games.

I'll see your board game cafe and raise you a bar

The relatively new phenomenon of the board game cafe has fueled a lot of the recent wave of articles.

Inevitably, when these mainstream stories are reported in the tabletop gaming press, the eye-rolling is nearly as loud as the audible sighs from dedicated board game enthusiasts.

“Board games never went anywhere,” we exasperate.

“Catan has been around for nearly twenty years,” we peeve.

We’ve got it wrong.

“Welcome,” we should be saying.

“Sit down and play!”

“Is it any surprise the media doesn’t know we exist?”

The media’s clockwork astonishment in finding board games being played might be traced to the fact that, until the recent boom in board game cafes, board gamers have largely been invisible. Our weekly game nights are in someone’s basement or living room. If we go out at all, we’re tucked into the back rooms of our friendly local game stores.

Is it any surprise the media doesn’t know we exist?

We can change this. We can play games in public spaces. We can invite strangers to sit down and learn a new game. We can no longer wait for them to come to us.

Go play in public!

Be visible! Take advantage of public spaces at your local library. Many already support gaming in the library. Check with your neighborhood branch or main library for available programs or volunteer to start your own.

Be proactive! Organize a game night at a local pub or coffee house. Most establishments will welcome the extra business on a slow night. Be courteous to the staff and other patrons. Establish a rapport, and people will seek you out.

Madison Board Games and Beer at Next Door Brewing Company.
Madison Board Games and Beer at Next Door Brewing Company.

I started a bi-weekly game night at Next Door Brewing Company, a neighborhood brew pub. I created a Facebook group to organize it, called Madison Board Games and Beer. It’s an open group; anyone can join and members are encouraged to host their own game nights. We’re up to 129 group members and growing quickly.

Word is spreading.

Board gaming is main stream. We are main stream. It’s time to let everyone else know.


How the Gamer got their Spots: A brief history of the public perception of gaming.

Australian game designer Stefan Barton-Ross shows us that, historically, gaming, games and play are the norm.


This weekend I attended PAX, which was mindblowing in many ways. While there I attended several panels, one of which inspired me to write this. It’s something I’ve been aware of and thought about for some time, but never really had the space to talk about. Now I do. So here we go.


This is something I heard at PAX a lot: ‘what will it take for gamers to get out of being a niche culture and be accepted into the mainstream socially and politically like, say, film or music are?’. It was the overarching question and theme on a panel hosted by various industry and journalist luminaries. To me it sounds odd.

On one level I identify with the sentiment deeply. I love videogames, tabletop games, card games, roleplay, pretty much anything ludic. Another common comment was on how gamers made being a minority part of their identity…

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A while back, I read this article about a hill-fort on the edge of a weakening Roman Empire in Britain; an important architectural find, emblematic of the turbulence of the era. In it, I came across a lovely phrase in their translation of a Latin inscription on the famous Vettweiss-Froitzheim Dice Tower.

Vettweiss-Froitzheim Dice Tower. Roman, fourth century AD. (Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn). Image: Wikimedia

PICTOS VICTOS – HOSTIS DELETA – LVDITE SECVRI, which they translate as, “The Picts defeated – the enemy wiped out – play without fear”

Lvdite Secvri – Play Without Fear. In the context of a dying empire harried by enemy invaders, it has a powerful implication.

Ludite Securi – Play Without Fear. It could be a motto for our Ludic Century, as well. It should resonate for all advocates of play. I know it resonates for me.


post adapted from earlier tweets