Why the UK market for board games remains limited

Veteran inventor Jack Jaffe explains why he believes game creators face struggles when launching products in the UK.
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The UK market for board games has remained limited for years, due to:

a) Poor teaching and, subsequently, limited appeal of mathematics.

Although there are recent attempts to improve the teaching of maths, it's been a relatively unappealing subject in the 20th century - teachers have failed to teach that 'thinking' using your mind - can be fun.

Generations still react adversely to playing board games and classify that as a juvenile activity except maybe at Xmas time, when Monopoly makes its annual appearance.

Yes, there are exceptions but they're few and far between.

b) Journnalists' laziness and unwillingness to learn to play any 'thinking' game.

I've met few journalists who're willing to sit down and learn to play a new 'thinking' board game, such as my recently launched Velodrome, a reproduction of cycle racing.

Even though it's a completely original concept reflecting the push me-pull you element of the real indoor race, I've yet to meet a journalist who'll sit down and play the game.

c) Store owners' reluctance to stock any game which doesn't carry the promise of TV advertising.

I recognise that store owners need to make money and it's natural that they want to stock games that sell eg, those advertised on TV.

Trouble is, almost all of the games advertised on TV are based on TV panel games and they're invariably games of chance. Play them a few times and they become boring and end up under the bed.

Virtually the only time games get a mention in the national media is in the pre-Xmas period.

The usual scenario is thus:

A news editor says "Send someone down to Hamleys and find out what's selling this year." Enter the junior reporter who trips to Hamleys, where he's told that the successful games are those which just happen to have been advertised on the Telly . . . Surprise, surprise. The reporter then writes his piece accordingly. The paper's readers remain in blissful ignorance that other games may exist, offering better value for money.

Toy News' Inventors Workshop initiative is therefore strongly welcomed. The first Workshop back in September was evidence that there are games inventors abound.

What's needed next is a games fair for consumers and (maybe) journalists who will get off their bums and visit. All of the existing exhibitions are trade fairs. I can recall, some 22 years ago, attending the Essen Games Fair, occupying two rooms in a school. It now occupies 11 or 12 large exhibition rooms and attracts some 150,000 people - mostly adults - attend and inventors are able to sell copies of their games. I attended for some 20 years and would still be attending if I were not now disabled.

Jack Jaffe founded and ran SIGMA (Society of Inventors of Games & Mathematical Attractions) for 12 years back in the 1980’s. He has designed and manufactured five games: Libido, Persona, In The Money, Save The President and Velodrome. He can be contacted at jack.jazzy@btinternet.com.

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