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More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games


A big trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's.

Unlike many cafés, the food and drinks here are an afterthought. There is also no wifi at GameHäus Café. Many of the customers like it that way. Roxanne Lee and her husband Agassi Lai are spending a mentally stimulating evening here - without the interference of any phones of computers.

“I think it’s very interesting for spending quality time together so that’s why I like it," said Lee.

Opened November of 2013, GameHäus Café is dedicated to board games and business is booming says co-owner Robert Cron.

“We are in the black since month one," said Cron.

Out of more than 750 game titles here, Agassi Lai chooses one called “Escape The Curse Of The Temple.”

“You keep rolling the dice and try to move to different places and try to escape the temple," said Lai.

Lai used to be a big video gamer. But everything changed after he discovered board games a few years ago.

“I would choose board games over video games any day," he said.

Lai and almost all of the customers playing board games at the cafe belong to the so-called millennial generation, which includes people between eighteen and 32 years old. Market research firm Euromonitor International says this demographic is increasingly embracing board games and driving up U.S. sales. Twenty-three-year-old Weland Bourne is one of them.

“I think more with my generation, they’re wanting to take time. They’re wanting to take it slowly and I think too video games have kind of lost their glamour," said Bourne.

However, these millenials are not playing the classic American games they grew up with, choosing instead new games from Europe. GameHäus Café co-owner Terry Chiu says many of these strategy-based “Euro games” have become popular around the world because they are not language based. They use symbols and have simple rules.

“Because of the rise of European games, or Euro games or German games as they might also be known, in the last 15 to 20 years, it’s sort of become universal. There are certain titles that have crossed a lot of cultures to really capture the imaginations of a lot of different people," said Chiu.

In the next year, Euromonitor International expects global sales of board games and puzzles to grow by more than 1 percent. Still no match video game sales, which are expected to grow 6 percent.

While many board games also have popular corresponding mobile apps, many millennials, including Kristie Nehme, say there is one thing a board game can offer that a video game cannot.

“The more personal aspect of just being with friends and see each other in person that’s probably the main difference, the main appeal," said Nehme.

Toy Industry Association’s Adrienne Appell says one of the biggest toy trends reported this year is that people are preferring more traditional toys. The reason for this, she says, is that the new generation just wants to put down the phone, put down the tablet and connect face-to-face with other people.
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