From family-friendly bestsellers like Agricola and Catan to Dungeons & Dragons and a broader role-playing resurgence, the global popularity of tabletop and board gaming continues to rise — and Chiang Mai has not been spared. Around our beloved city people are putting aside their phones and tablets, and looking away from their screens (for a while at least!), in order to flip cards, connect tiles and roll dice; to cooperate, compete, strategise, and bluff. So what are the factors that have contributed to this global gaming Renaissance?
According to Jean-Sébastien Dupuis, owner of Chiang Mai’s sole specialist game store, Golden Goblin Games, the rise of board gaming has much to do with the essential human desire for meaningful socialisation. “Sooner or later, video gamers end up getting bored of playing games alone in front of a screen. As an antidote to being immersed in an increasingly digital world, board gaming offers the element of physical tangibility and real-life face-to-face interaction that is lacking with video games. It’s often the case that video gamers get introduced to tabletop gaming by a friend and they’re quickly hooked.” While board gaming enables people to transcend the limitations and expectations of online identity and navigate their way around the at-times-stifling social media cul-de-sac, at the heart of game play lies the ultimate treasure of life – fun!
“Board games help people to have a good time. They bring joy and laughter into our lives and improve our health and happiness.”
“Playing board games, people want to relax and smile, have fun and enjoy themselves,” say Tum and Nung, proprietors of Meerkatto, one of Chiang Mai’s paramount gaming cafés. “It’s amazing to watch as a group of people – including many who don’t even know each other – sit down at the same table to play and concentrate and share their gaming experiences together in ‘real time’. Board games help people to have a good time. They bring joy and laughter into our lives and improve our health and happiness.” Harmonious families are another feature of Chiang Mai’s gaming scene. As Tum and Nung see it, “Playing board games can help families a lot. Sitting down to play games requires talking and communication, which can build a sense of cooperation and enhance family relationships. Children also learn strategic thinking and problem-solving skills, and how to focus on solutions rather than problems.” It’s no exaggeration that Chiang Mai’s gaming scene continues to grow, with three new dedicated gaming cafes – Game Tree, Hooman Boardgame House and Primrose – having recently opened alongside the already-established Meerkatto, Chubby Cat, Enjoy Café, OpenBox, and Time Capsule venues. Check out their regular game days and nights, special events like tournaments, and just get involved!