For better or worse, 2020 has turned many of us into gamers. Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released around the start of the pandemic, bringing video games to the forefront of cultural discourse as the internet collectively bonded over the game. Since then, COVID-19 has only pushed the games industry to further success. Though new game releases have slowed due to the pandemic, the industry is experiencing one of its highest-ever sales periods. The Nintendo Switch was flying off shelves so fast this spring that it was nearly impossible to get one without dealing with a scalper, and the same is happening now with Sony's new Playstation 5.
Board games are on the up and up as well, with COVID accelerating existing trends. In just the last three months, searches for “tabletop games” went up more than 100%, according to explodingtopics.com. Board game sales already went from $920 million in 2014 to $1.67 billion in 2019, and it didn’t take long into shutdowns for games like Jenga and Connect Four to make it to the top of Amazon best-seller lists. People need something a little more active than binge-watching Netflix to keep them occupied during the Forever Year.
Here at the Business of Business, our gaming interests vary. So we took it to a debate: Are games a good way to spend your quarantine time?
Danny Konstantinovic: Oh shoot. Lost track of time. Whenever you guys wanna do the call is good!
Julia Gray: Not call! We Slack!
Danny: Oh, I thought we were doing a voice discussion.
Ivan De Luce: It might read better as a call transcript? We can also have a debate on this.
Danny: We should turn this into a blog about whether calls are necessary at all. You should only be calling me if I'm dead and you're trying to listen to my voicemail on repeat to feel like I'm there.
Julia: Let’s get down to business. The reason we’re all here. GAMES: good or bad?
Danny: I'm waiting to see which of you will out yourselves as a hater first.
Julia: Well board games have been getting more popular during the pandemic because people aren't allowed to do anything that is actually fun.
This is a good time to state: I am anti-game.
Ivan: My roommates and I have purchased three or four board games during the pandemic. Chess (does that count?), Scrabble, and this thing called "Hunt a Killer" which is more involved than a board game
Julia: Does chess count as a board game? I say yes.
Danny: I don't know if we can call chess a board game. I don't think it exists in the same category as Hungry Hungry Hippos.
Like, yes, it's a game, also it is on a board.
But it's its own thing. If someone called me and I was playing chess, I'd say, "Hey, I'm playing chess right now." If they called me while I was playing Mouse Trap I'd be like, "Sorry, I'm playing a board game right now."
Julia: Hungry Hungry Hippos is NOT a board game. It is an interactive experience.
Ivan: Should we define "board game" for starters?
Julia: I prefer speaking about games in the abstract.
Ivan: That's because you hate them all equally right?
Julia: I don't like games. It has nothing to do with the board of it all.
Danny: Why don't you like games? What do you do for fun??
Julia: Well, i don't like competition. Not that i'm a sore loser, I just don't CARE.
Ivan: America is for winners, Julia.
Julia: Also, what is the point.
Danny: Julia doesn't care that your hippo was way hungrier than hers.
Julia: I don't like games but there are a few exceptions. I like trivia. I like a scavenger hunt. I like Boggle.
Ivan: Board games are superior to sports for many reasons, but they're all pointless.
Julia: So, Ivan, are you anti-game as well?
Ivan: I'm leaning towards anti-game now.
Julia has started to convince me.
Julia: Wow I should be a lawyer.
Danny, make your pro-game opening statement.
Danny: Ok, my opening statement is: games are good. They are just as fun and valid a way to spend your time as watching a TV show or reading a book.
I will say that board games are super dependent on who you're playing with, whereas video games are less so.
Ivan: Good point — video games are the friend, and board games are about the friends.
Danny: I'm obviously pro-game. I like video games a lot. I don't play a lot of board games, but I wish I had a good group of friends to play with. Because doing stuff like Dungeons and Dragons seems like a really good time.
Julia: Danny what is your favorite game... video game, board game, and other game?
My favorite video games are Bratz Rock Angelz and APE ESCAPE.
And Sims...maybe I do like games.
Danny: Favorite video game: Final Fantasy XIII. Board game: Life. Other game: tag.
Ivan: I LOVE trivia. Bar trivia. Jeopardy! and Trivial Pursuit. I can kick anyone's ass in trivia.
Julia: Tag sucks. did you see the movie...Tag?
Ivan: Wait the movie? There's a movie?
Danny: I have not seen the Tag movie.
Julia: With Jason Bateman! And other middle aged handsome man actors. They play tag.
I think that other dude is in it too....the one who is almost Jason Bateman.
He was on SNL...
Danny: Guys, i think we've stopped talking about games.
Julia: Okay games.
Danny: I would count escape rooms as a game.
Julia: Omg fuck an escape room.
Ivan: I love escape rooms, too. I loved National Treasure and The Da vinci Code as a kid. I suppose I'm more "puzzles" than "games."
Julia: I think more than hating games I just hate organized fun.
Danny: In college I worked at an escape room place.
Games are really good at manipulating your behavior inside of them. Getting you to act a certain way, look for certain things, etc. A good game — board game, video game or otherwise — teaches you how to play it.
Julia: I wrote this earlier this year: The Sims and Animal Crossing rise among Amazon's best selling products as people simulate a life outside of quarantine.
Did either of you play Animal Crossing? I played and got bored.
Danny K: Why did you get bored?
Julia: Not enough action on my island! You just kinda mill around.
I like The Sims more because there's drama. There's no drama in Animal Crossing.
I want to create psycho polycules and trap my Sims in their basements.
Ivan: Jenga, Connect Four, or puzzles.
Julia: I say Jenga. Lots of drama, fast paced.
Ivan: Jigsaw puzzles are amazing.
Danny: Jigsaw puzzles aren't board games, c'mon.
More like BORED games.
Ivan: I would argue that nobody really "needs" games!
Danny: I disagree! I think people need entertainment!
Julia: Omg you know what game I love? CHARADES.
Ivan: Charades is great!
Julia and I seem to see things the same way.
Danny: So to recap your guys' thoughts:
Video games: bad. Board games: lame. Charades: good.
Ivan: Video games: unbearable. Board games: good when they feed your brain, otherwise lame.
Charades: fun for the whole family!
Julia: Video games: for boys. Board games: too many rules. Charades: my time to shine.
Should we share closing statements?
Danny: Danny is typing 10 paragraphs.
Ivan: I think this conversation has taught me that I really, really, really don't like video games. Never did. Unless it's Star Wars: Battlefront II or if they made a Jeopardy! game. Have they done that? I'd pay. I was a Legos and drawing kinda kid. Never wanted games. Being stuck with a group of fantastic friends who play all these board games has taught me that I tolerate board games. When they play "smash" on the Switch, I say it's getting late guys, gotta catch the bus. And them I'm outta there. Besides, I die so fast that I never get time to practice and get better and those kinds of games. Give me Scrabble, crosswords, any trivia, charades, jigsaw puzzles, escape rooms, anything that involves my immense cognitive abilities (superpowers). Otherwise, I'd rather play guitar. Thank you.
Danny: Hater alert
Julia: Games are an American pastime! Many people love games! I am not one of those people. Your honor, games are hard. Games are pointless. Games are reflective of our capitalist system. We play the game, and for what? Just to play more games. We will never stop playing games and nobody will ever win.
Ivan: Julia has firmly convinced me and I am from now on on her side in this debate.
I hear Canadians are less into games...
Danny: So I think games of all sort are a wonderful way to spend time, especially during COVID. Board games are fun if you have a good group of people you can rely on to not be the worst, and charades are fun if you're Julia and Ivan. Personally, I grew up with and love video games, and I think it's just as valid as any other form of entertainment. There's just such a wealth of stuff: amazing stories being told, really unique experiences, and there's a whole aspect of games as a social tool. I play games with some of my friends from college almost every night as a way to talk and keep in touch, and do something together over distance. I think during COVID, that's especially valuable. So Ivan and Julia here are advocating for you to abandon friendships because video games are for little children!!!
Ivan: That's a really fair point about friendship, Danny.
Danny: I will say, though, that I don't think video games should be your ONLY source of entertainment. I read and watch a lot of other media, and I think it's really important to diversify where you're getting your info and entertainment from. If you want to be a well-rounded, informed person, you gotta be branching out more.
I think it's harder to play Dungeons and Dragons over Zoom than it is to, say, play Fall Guys with a buddy on Discord.
Ivan: Absolutely — D&D on Zoom is BAD.
Julia: Anything on Zoom is bad.
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