I’ve been playing games for a very long time – about 30 years for both video and hobby tabletop games of various kinds. I rather immodestly think of myself as being intimately familiar with most of the genres, and of being representative of the more obsessive end of hobby gamers generally. It therefore came as something of a shock when, shortly after discovering boardgamegeek.com in 2002, I realised that my taste combat-heavy, thematic and fairly random games was considered niche. It seemed that modern gamers generally preferred these new-fangled “European” games coming out of Germany.
I was further mystified when I learned that the foremost modern-day purveyor of the sorts of games I particularly enjoyed, Fantasy Flight Games, had become one of the largest game publishers in the world, ranking behind only mass-market producers like Hasbro and streets ahead of any other hobby-focussed companies. If my taste in games was considered niche amongst a community of board game hobbyists, how come the publisher that best suited that taste had grown so large? Who on earth was buying all their games?