Popular boardgames during lockdown

Caroline Schelle
(Australian Associated Press)


Scientists, researchers and medics are working together to contain a pandemic sweeping across the globe. But it’s not coronavirus.

It’s a boardgame called Pandemic which surged in popularity around Australia.

Mind Games owner Marnie Hipkins said Pandemic along with other board games, puzzles and hobby items were selling fast at her Melbourne store.

“Pandemic is a co-operative board game so everyone works together as scientists and researchers trying to fight off these diseases,” Ms Hipkins said.

“It’s always been a popular, award-winning game but there’s a lot more people buying it now.”

Other games including the classic Catan had also been selling well along with single-player games like the Unlock series.

Puzzles particularly Harry Potter themed ones had been flying off the shelves, she said. The prime minister’s comments labelling jigsaw puzzles as “essential” didn’t hurt either, she said.

While there was a steady trade over the past three weeks Ms Hipkins was concerned how much longer she could afford to keep her family-run business open.

“We have noticed the CBD has become a ghost town. We are afraid we will have to close down if sales continue to fall,” she said.

She hoped the online store would help carry her through the quiet time as more people spent time at home.

“My dad started the store in 1977 and I’ve been asking him for advice about what I should do but he’s never seen anything like this.”

Retailer Gameology had also been doing a roaring trade in the past two weeks with Pandemic also a best-seller, owner John Khamtanh said.

“It’s very thematic and everyone is buying it because it’s relevant,” he said, adding Pandemic’s spinoff versions only had a few sets remaining.

Jigsaw puzzles were sold out across most ranges and family-centric games were also very popular as children spend their school holidays indoors, he said.

While board games are fun, research suggests the social element can also help people battle feelings of isolation.

They allow people to connect face-to-face and the physical element of touching pieces and boards were often beneficial for players, University of Melbourne’s Dr Melissa Rogerson explained.

“There’s also the intellectual challenge for people, with puzzles to solve and plans to make and enact which is one of the things that attracts people to playing games and in turn leads to this sense of achievement,” she said.

It was also “really important” for players to make decisions in the game rather than be reliant on luck, which created a less satisfying outcome.

Co-operative games that involved players or teams working to beat the game also helped people build collaborative skills.

“We know that sort of collaborative puzzle solving is particularly good at improving collaboration skills … it makes people better at working in teams,” she told AAP.


* Pandemic

* Catan

* Codenames

* Exploding Kittens

* Ticket to Ride

* Wingspan

* Keyforge

* Unlock series

* War of the Rings


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