Play Digest: Never Bored

Did you know that the first board game, a popular game called senet, came from ancient Egypt? Clearly, this type of play has staying power. Here at PlayTime we’ve already looked pretty closely at the world of board games—Naomi Russo delved into the conflicted history of Monopoly, Charlie Hall researched how the CIA uses board games to train spies, and Carlo Rotella shared his youthful experiences playing war games. This week we roll the dice and take a look at more board game news.

Some like to say that board games are, in fact, experiencing a renaissance. In 2015, the “hobby” board game market grew into a $250 million business. That may answer why (oh why?) Settlers of Catan is being adapted for the big screen

Eric Zimmerman, who talked to us about the virtues of cheating, and his partners in game design have developed the fun, broad-reaching, and modern Metagame. If the Metagame didn’t already enough of a draw, they’ve developed an expansion pack about gamesA kind of meta metagame. 

Cards Against Humanity purchases acreage on the US–Mexico border and hires experts on eminent domain to prevent the property from being claimed by the Trump administration for the border wall.

Board games aren’t all simplicity. There is a crop of “tech-centric” board games out there, including an update on the classic Civilization and Pandemic, an interview with the developer of which can be found here.

Where video game industry conventions like the giant E3 and the developer-centric GDC now operate at a level befitting Hollywood or Silicon Valley, the Board Game Convention in Essen, Germany, is open to the general public and introduces the newest in analogue gaming. Ars Cardboard (part of the terrific Ars Technica family) could barely contain its list of the best of the best from this year’s show (TransAtlantic and Altiplano have my vote.). 

Check in next week for a new roundup of the latest play news and stories.

(Image credit: Game board and gaming pieces, ca. 1550–1295 B.C., from Egypt, Abydos, Cemetery D. Faience, modern wood. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Egypt Exploration Fund, 1901. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.)

About Eugenia Bell

Eugenia Bell is the guest editor for She is the former executive editor of Design Observer and Design Editor of Frieze. Her writing has appeared in Frieze, Artforum, Bookforum, and Garage, among other places.