Dr Peter Wright
Dr Peter Wright

A games expert from Edge Hill University explains why there has been a surge in the popularity of board games as the nation celebrates World Chess Day today (20th July).

Playing board games like Chess has always been a time-honoured tradition for many families at Christmas or during holidays and the recent global pandemic has seen people switching from online gaming to dust off their classic board games and tabletop games to help them get through lockdown together.

At the start of lockdown, there was a rise in people playing Chess. Chess.com saw 700,000 new players in the first three weeks of the pandemic and as Chess has also been classed as a sport, it has been one of the only activities which has been able to continue during Covid-19.

Explaining these latest trends, Dr Peter Wright, Senior Lecturer in Speculative Fictions, said that families are going back to traditional past-times and games have been modernised to appeal to more people.

“Over the last fifteen to twenty years, tabletop games have enjoyed a huge surge in popularity. We’re now living in a golden age of tabletop gaming. The Eurogame, competitive boardgames and collaborative adventure games such as Dungeons and Dragons and Call of Cthulhu have become an integral part of our cultural landscape.

“It’s fair to say that tabletop games have evolved over the years too. Whereas the likes of Chess, Checkers, Dominoes and childhood favourites such as Snakes and Ladders, are all mainly two-player, modern games are developed to encourage more teams to play.

“The growing popularity of tabletop games indicates that this kind of gaming is becoming an integral part of our general, face-to-face social activities. In some ways, playing a tabletop game is a more sociable activity than gaming online, even when online gaming offers mediated collaborative or competitive play. Of course, everyone plays games because they’re fun – fulfilling our need for interaction, healthy competition and imagination. With titles like Gloomhaven, Ticket to Ride, Wingspan, Galaxy Trucker and Pandemic, there’s never been a better time to get into tabletop gaming.”

Picture of Peter Wright with students at a table top games event.
Peter Wright with students at a tabletop games event.

Dr Wright is an academic and games designer with interests in critical and creative work in science fiction and fantasy literature, film, television and tabletop games. He currently leads Creative Writing’s modules in narrative game design, writing for tabletop roleplaying games and writing for digital adventure games.

Last year he led a group of 16 students on a collaboration with Crooked Dice Game Design Studio. 7TV: Pulp is the title of the company’s third boxed set tabletop skirmish game, taking its inspiration from 1930s and 1940s American cinema serials and pulp magazines. The game was launched at the UK’s largest Games Expo at Birmingham NEC in May last year.

Edge Hill University’s English, History and Creative Writing Department offers courses in Creative Writing, one of the fastest growing subjects in the curriculum, and options to combine with Drama, English Literature and Film Studies.