Doctor Maboul, Skyjo, Cuisto Dingo… In 2022 again, board games are popular. And not just for children. The top 3 “kidults” – these players from the age of 12 – display on their podium the intelligent Codenames and the very schoolboys Blanc-manger Coco and Limite Limite. On Monday January 16, the toy industry unveils its results for the 2022 season, based on October, November and December.
The director general of the French Federation of Toy and Childcare Industries, Christophe Drevet, announces an overall performance “slightly down compared to 2020 and 2021”, years marked by successive confinements which caused sales to explode. It ensures all the same that these practices re-enter and persist in society. “The global game and toy market represents 18.5% of the market,” explains Bruno Bokanowski, editorial director of La Revue du toy. This means that one in five toys sold is a board game. A French particularity, France having been at the forefront of the European board game market for several years (read the benchmarks).
Christophe Drevet notices an acceleration of the interest of “kidults”. “In five years, with the pandemic as an accelerator, the kidult market has doubled. Today, they represent 28% of the total market. “While party games, or “aperitif games” such as Blanc-manger Coco first participated in relaunching the machine and redemocratizing the practice of the game, “the investigation games, very narrative and cooperative, continue to ‘being privileged’, analyzes Vincent Berry, researcher in the sociology of games at the Experice laboratory in Paris.
“At the base, the games are a collective activity, but with always, somewhere, an individual feeling with a winner, a loser, notes the expert. With cooperative play, we are like a sports team, everyone wins or everyone loses. There is no longer any notion of adversary. “An interesting game mode especially “for children who have more difficulty and who are less sure of themselves”, details Bruno Bokanowski. An approach that corresponds to other popular trends in society, such as “Montessori methods which do not favor scoring, no winner, where the person works and plays at their own pace”, he continues.
Another effect of the board game, amplified by the confinements: the board game strengthens social relations, more than it creates them. “What is incredible in the evolution of the board game is the diversification of the experiences offered, emphasizes Vincent Berry. There are games “for fun”, others where you can challenge yourself, others more narrative… The game becomes the collective consumption of a story, of an investigation. Unlike video games, board games naturally fit into the life of a group (family, friends). And all this without a screen, which has undoubtedly contributed to giving the board game a reinforced educational value. “When you’re tired of TV, phones and tablets, playing card games can be a real bubble of air,” argues Christophe Drevet. “Board games are often equated with good parenting,” confirms researcher Vincent Berry.
However, screens are increasingly interfering with games, at least in the early game. For several years, the role of the “master of the game” – the one who paces the game and pulls the strings – has changed. Publishers, to attract a wider audience, seek to get rid of the long written rules of the game, which constitute one of the main brakes on the interest of players. “Rulebooks are shrinking and the use of explanatory videos has exploded in recent years,” observes Vincent Berry. The researcher also notices the development of games with inductive rules, that is to say “a game where the rules are minimal and arrive during the game like Andor or Unlock! “. Written rules or “tutorials”, you have to choose. It’s up to you to decide and play.
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