Put Down the Smartphone, Board Games Are Cool Now

Monday, May 19, 2014

What's the first image that comes to mind when you hear the words "Dungeons and Dragons"? Some guys covered in Cheeto dust, wearing glasses and wizard hats, sitting in their basements playing cards: a small contingent of devoted nerds?

That stereotype is changing. 

Sales of tabletop games (including cards, board games, and role-playing games) at hobby stores have jumped 15 to 20 percent for the last three years in a row, according to a recent report from ICv2. In New York City, a few business owners are hoping to get gamers to their brick-and-mortar stores where people can play hundreds of games. 

Forget Scrabble and Monopoly (though yes, they have those too); we’re talking Cards Against Humanity and Settlers of Catan.

The owners of these businesses say people of all stripes are showing up to play: tatted up skaters, couples on a date, local librarians, college students, and even hardcore fans of Magic: The Gathering.

Here are a few of the latest spots:


Brooklyn Gamelab

353 7th Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11215

Launched: February 2014

Library: About 200-300 games

Details: Holds afterschool and summer break game design workshops for kids, along with adult and mixed-aged game nights. Sells games, including modifications from the kids who attend workshops.


The Uncommons

230 Thompson Street

New York, NY 10012

Launched: October 2013

Library: About 350 games

Details: Kids and adults welcome. Located in the old Village Chess Shop near NYU. Sells games, coffee, and snacks.


The Brooklyn Strategist

333 Court Street

Brooklyn, NY 11231

Launched: January 2011

Library: More than 400 games

Details: Kids and adults welcome. Holds after-school clubs and school break camps focusing on gameplay and creative game design; evening tournaments and gaming leagues for adults; and private and group lessons. Sells games, food, and drinks.


Twenty Sided Store

362 Grand St.

Brooklyn, NY 11211

Launched: April 2010

Library: About 130 games

Details: Kids and adults welcome. Focuses on board games, roleplaying games, and Magic: The Gathering. Hosts tournaments and socials, private parties and other events. Sells games (more than 500 titles), food, and drinks.



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Comments [9]

Tina from New York

Have you ever played the LAWSUIT! board game? It's a fun, award-winning, unique game that teaches what it's like to be a lawyer? Take a look at it on amazon. LAWSUIT! is a game for the whole family--ages 8 and up. Add LAWSUIT! to your list of summer games to play.

Jun. 19 2014 10:35 AM
Randall Porter

Marielle did you not notice how loaded your words towards gamers were. I would add "Playing for the World" to your summer's reading list. It is the history of DnD but it goes into the deep roots of game play in Western Civ. It will make you think twice about gamers.

May. 22 2014 10:09 AM
Bob from Canada

If you are wondering why tabletop games are making such a comeback in the last 3 years? I put forward exibit A and exibit B. Wil Wheaton and Tabletop Youtube show, and what's called the Tabletop Effect. With his Youtube show tabletop show he has made people realize the world over that Board Games should not only be played and celebrated, but most importantly BE SHARED.

Now go watch this as Wil makes my point for me.

May. 21 2014 05:44 PM

And speaking of boardgames ABOUT New York, the Worthington folks are running a kickstarter on the American Revolution campaign, "New York, 1776." It's a simple game that uses beautiful, wooden blocks for units (easy bookkeeping) and has a link on the site for "learn to play in FIVE minutes." Details here:

May. 21 2014 05:38 PM
D&D from Earth

D&D players don't play cards.

May. 21 2014 05:33 PM
Jeff from Edmonton

Board Games are awesome. There are thousands of new games released every year. There is bound to be a game out there for pretty much everyone, as long as they are not too "Benoit" to try.

May. 21 2014 04:57 PM
Dave from KS

Settlers of Catan is only a crumb... when you play your first game of Here I Stand, you'll know you've arrived.

May. 21 2014 04:26 PM
Benoit Balz from Ny

Please don't kid yourself. The stigma of "gamers" as geeks, nerds and weirdos is as strong as ever, if not stronger. And for very good reason!

May. 19 2014 06:11 PM
Ian from Cambridge UK

'Now'? Boardgaming has been a staple of passing the time for just about anyone of any age over here in mainland Europe for years and years, and as far as I knew it has also been a really big deal in the US too. It's one of the most engaging, sociable and entertaining ways to spend time available. Games cafes are a bit harder to come by but many - especially in Berlin for example - are hot property and sell out tables to advance bookings for days on end. Enter any one and find groups of friends, families with children, all sorts of people just getting together and having fun. There's never been a better time to embrace this hobby, with hundreds of beautifully designed games for all tastes available. And Manhattan - you have one HECK of a treat in The Uncommons right there on your doorstep. I have been in and the place is fantastic.

May. 19 2014 12:25 PM

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