All posts by Felicia Duger

Millennials and the Board Game Revival

What’s a Millennial?

As a Millennial, I hear the whispers in the dark surrounding me. Millenials are lazy, burdened by debt, and they’re killing cable and brick-and-mortar stores. They’d rather have craft beer and avocado toast than a house, and they’re always staring at a screen.

But by definition, they are the generation that first grew up with technology. Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials spent most of their formative years surrounded by gaming consoles and computers. We remember our first Gameboy and our late hours playing The Sims on the family’s first computer.

Fast-forward to today, Millenials are in a tough spot with low employment levels, crushing student debt, and rising costs in healthcare. Millenials reject the notions of yesteryear in favor of cost-effective and progressive solutions.

gaming with technology

Tabletop doesn’t mean unplugged.

So what draws a Millenials into tabletop gaming? Millenials are not swapping screen time for face-to-face fun. They’re not ditching their phones to play a round of Clank in Space. Odds are, their Twitter feed and Snapchat followers are going to know they’re playing. Games like Werewolf require a mobile app to play, and I know too many people with their character sheets and spell lists tucked on their laptops.

Millenials want to escape into alternate worlds, beyond their student loans and tiny apartments. They have an affinity for nostalgia and cost-effective entertainment.

zelda clue

Fantasy is Main Stream

The line demarcating a nerd of the 70s and 80s – pushing up his glasses and rolling a D20 – is dead. Millenials grew up alongside Harry Potter, and they watched The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars in theaters. Today, Game of Thrones is one of the most popular TV shows in history, and Marvel is knocking comic book movies out fo the park. Fantasy is no longer reserved for nerds, and Millennials are soaking themselves in these worlds away from life’s burdens.

From Controllers to Dice

A lot of Millenials have fond memories of spending time with a friend or sibling while they play A Link to the Past on their Super Nintendos. Though Millennials have grown up on video games, they have changed drastically within the last decade. Companies are doing what they can to milk every penny out of each game. Between additional downloadable content (DLC), subscriptions, and paid loot boxes, playing video games is expensive.

On top of that, to play with other people, they also need to purchase a copy of the game. Though a board game and a console game can both run around $50, only one person needs to buy it for a group to enjoy. They are easy to pick up and play with your friends or even your grandparents.

dungeons and dragons at game table cafe

Gaming Cafes and Bars

Millennials can’t afford big purchases like houses, so they use their money for experiences rather than things. That means delicious food, enjoyable company, and entertainment. Places like The Game Table Cafe offer all these things at affordable prices.  From strategy, card games, roll-and-move, and cooperative, there’s a tabletop game for every taste. And you can jump from Settlers of Catan to Monopoly to something weird like Exploding Kittens. The options are endless, and so is the fun.

3 Benefits of Tabletop RPGs

Lucian Huang, at your service. I am but a humble servant of Deneir on my own quest from my late master. I found refuge in the city of Orm in this treacherous land of Agasteel.  Journeying with me are two rangers, a bard, and two druids.

A farmer to the north needed our help dispatching a giant wolf that made a meal of his flock. After getting our mission, we followed the tracks to a cave. Inside, a glowing pair of red eyes greeted us and out stepped a wolf twice the size of a cow. We knew this was not a normal wolf. And while he growled at us, we had to make a decision on what to do. Do we rush in an attack? Use the druid to talk to him? Look around for anything useful? Run away? These kinds of decisions make Dungeons and Dragons an exercise in creativity, problem-solving, and teamwork.

dungeons and dragons player handbook

1. Learning New Things Helps Your Brain

Studies have long been pointing to the benefits of continual learning through a person’s life. From delaying cognitive decline and improving memory, life-long learning keeps your brain active. Before the game even begins, it requires learning the game, reading about your characters, and a bit of research into the possible combinations of skills, abilities, armors, and weapons.

It may seem a bit overwhelming, but a good Dungeon Master, or game host, will guide you in your comfort level. You can settle with a pre-made character (drafted by your DM), pick the recommended configurations from the book, or create a combination all your own.

For those who love Dungeons and Dragons and want to dive deeper into the game, there are innumerable styles of play, lore, and nearly two-dozen official books to widen your horizon. Or you may go so far as learning to be a DM yourself.

dungeons and dragons minifigures
We used someone’s dice case for our cart.

2. Harnessing Your Creativity & Problem Solving

Creativity alone has many benefits which is good news for a game centered on designing your own story. To start with, creating your character involves much more than numbers on a page. What do they look like? What’s their backstory? What are the mannerisms that define them?

Everyone is capable of creativity. It’s freeing, stress relieving and promotes self-awareness and self-expression. When you play, get into character if you want to. Speak like them and make choices based on what they would choose, not you. I had a Cleric character named Laucian. He was very devout and saw all beings as innocent until otherwise proven. On behalf of Laucian, I refused to fight in instances involving animals and I ran headlong (stupidly) into battles against known enemies.

Creativity also boosts problem-solving capabilities. In D&D, you build your own story. How will you face obstacles? What’s the solution to the puzzle lock on the ancient temple? How will you get information from the barkeep?

A DM friend of mine played the same campaign for two different groups. In the campaign, we had to rescue captives in a large goblin and ogre camp. My group used a combination of spells between multiple people to project a symbol of their deity in the sky and use a thunderous voice to mimic him. Basically, we incited a goblin riot against the Ogres and snuck people out during the fighting. The other group made a giant construct to scare them out of the camp. Either way, we both succeeded in our objectives.

There are no multiple-choice questions in D&D, and as long as it’s within the rules, you can approach any task in whatever way you wish. Sometimes, the most creative solutions are the most fun and make for great stories long after the game is over.

dungeons and dragons arena
2v2 player versus player

3. Working Together & Improving Communication

Forget those Escape the Room games for your company Team Building days. The time limits and pressure to be puzzle wizards don’t exist in Dungeons & Dragons. What does exist is working together to dispatch foes or navigate an abandoned mine. As I mentioned from the example above, it took all of us to put on that light and sound show to free those captives.

And it will take your whole team to figure out how to cross a rickety bridge when half of you are wearing heavy plate armor. Have an idea? Speak up. Make decisions together. Lone wolves will get themselves killed. And for heaven-sake, never split the party!

Often a bad roll or a bad decision can make situations dire. I was in a group during that rickety bridge scenario. A plate-wearing dwarf tied herself to a team-mate. Neither expected the dwarf to fall and sink to the bottom like a stone. And as physics would dictate, the teammate was ripped from the bridge thanks to her tether. It took quick thinking and a lot of rope to get them to safety.

Final Thoughts

Table-top role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons promote creativity, learning, working together, problem-solving, and communication. These elements are great for the brain and important to life. Grab a group of co-workers, friends, or meet some new people and settle down for a game. Unlike other team building and “get to know you games,” you can drink coffee and eat delicious food while you bond over how you’re going in infiltrate the enemy base.

How did the wolf story end? The druid noticed that not only was he injured, but the wolf was actually a she. As he drew close to tend her wound, he discovered that she was a mom and her pups were missing. After some prodding, the wolf told us about the humans that kidnapped her puppies. If we struck first, we would have never discovered the real enemy3