Springfield business sees interest in board games spike during COVID-19 pandemic

Published: Jan. 30, 2021 at 10:49 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Like many businesses, Meta Games Unlimited had to close its doors for weeks in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were all pretty afraid with how things were going to go,” said manager Jeremy Bates.

However, Bates said things turned out better than expected. “Once we got back to it, everyone was really bored and wanted to play games, and they were in here buying stuff like crazy.”

He explained that board games have since been on an upward tick.

“There’s a big thing with Kickstarter right now, which is like a crowdfunding page, and a bunch of companies are using that to fund new board games.”

Due to the funding of new board games, tons are being introduced to the genre. But there’s always a fan favorite that’s in popular demand every year.

“One year it might’ve been deck-building games, and this last year was roll and write games, all just different mechanics to how you play the game.”

It’s not only introducing more games, but Bates said it’s bringing more people into the store and even more into the hobby.

“Geek or nerd culture is a little more socially acceptable now than what it used to be. So we’ve definitely have had an increase in people who may not have been our target demographic necessarily ten years ago.”

He emphasized that the interest in board games has always been on the rise, but the pandemic also played a part. “The pandemic has given it a little extra push, and it has an extra oomph behind it now.”

With an uptick in people rolling onto the board game trend, there have been a couple of challenges, one being the availability of board games in stock. Bates said hobbyists see firsthand that many games that run out of stock take a little bit of time to get back on the shelf.

Another challenge for the board game community is that many of them are group-related activities, and because of the pandemic, larger gatherings have been limited. Bates explained that Meta Games Unlimited has an open gaming area with designated tables for wargaming. He said space typically brings many gamers from across the country together. But now, those large game parties and groups they see have lessened significantly.

“Now they have small friend groups that they might meet at their own houses or elsewhere to play, and to get those people back into the store will probably be a little bit of a challenge. So I don’t expect us to have crazy, crazy large numbers for our events like we use to. That might pick up a little more slowly.”

Despite the hurdles during the pandemic, Bates believes the board game industry will continue to thrive.

“They’re always introducing new stuff. But I mean, It’s growing at a fantastic pace, and everyone’s having a good time so, so are we.”

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