Are board games back?

Lucybelle Gerlieb ’24 dives into the different opinions about playing board games, as well as a review of Iowa City’s new board game cafe, Fortuna.


Lucybelle Gerlieb

Board game sales have been rising because of lockdown.

You’re sitting at a small table, cards spewed about in front of you and the other players. The game has been intense, but you’re just about to make the winning play. There’s no other thrill quite like the one from playing board games.
Board games have been around for thousands of years. They first originated in ancient Egypt. The first commercially produced board game was called the Game of the Goose, a game of chance and luck created in Spain from 1574 to around 1587. People have used them to connect with friends, family, and strangers. Considering that they are largely loved, most households would have at least a few. Some even go the extra mile of having a designated day of the week to play board games with their family.
Recently, board game and card game sales have had an incline, presumably because of COVID-19 lockdowns, with a growth rate of about 10% each year. But these statistics stump me. I have been seeing board games less and less. They aren’t a topic of conversation, there are hardly any board game ads on television anymore, and families seem to be way more likely to sit down and watch a movie than play a game together.
So why are they becoming less and less prevalent in day-to-day life? With the fast advancement of technology, individuals have found more convenient ways to be entertained, even at the expense of social interaction. Video games and social media seem to be the cause. They release a chemical called dopamine, also known as the “feel-good” hormone. And with the fast-paced videos and endless scrolling, they will grab your attention for hours.

Playing board games results via WSS Instagram poll (Lucybelle Gerlieb)
Favorite board game responses via WSS Instagram poll (Lucybelle Gerlieb)

If you’re looking to play more board games, you’re in luck. In October of 2021, Fortuna Board Game Cafe opened its doors in downtown Iowa City. Currently, they serve a variety of popcorn, coffee and more. While enjoying the snacks, you can play board and card games with friends and family. The admission is only $6 to play to your heart’s content. They even have a suggestion box where you can share your favorite games. In addition to their food, drinks and amazing game selection, Fortuna hosts a Dungeons and Dragons game night on Mondays and Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Even if you don’t know how to play D&D, they’ll teach you.
Fortuna is such an amazing place, and all of the staff are incredibly welcoming and friendly. In fact, they’ll even teach the games that are new to you, which is super helpful. Enjoying the experience? They even have a selection of games to purchase, so you can bring a piece of the cafe home with you.
Regardless of the various opinions surrounding board games, it is important to spend quality time with the people in your life. Board games are my favorite way to do so, and that’s why they’ll hopefully make a comeback.