Board game cafes more popular in cost-of-living crisis

Player says she avoids buying ‘prohibitively expensive’ new board games in the cost-of-living crisis as her ability to fund social activities gets squeezed

Board game cafes offer customers the chance to try new games without having to buy their own. Credit: Robyn Quick

Board game cafes in Cardiff are providing a space for people to save money on rising game prices.

The cost-of-living crisis has meant an increase in the price of many essential goods, such as electricity and food. About 45% of Welsh households never have enough money for anything other than the basics, according to the Bevan Foundation, an organisation tackling poverty in Wales.

These financial struggles mean the entertainment industry has had to take a back seat in the budget for many.

Charlotte Smith, 54, has been playing board games for around 30 years, and has felt the impact of prices rising.

“When I first started playing, I didn’t notice the price of games as much as I do now,” said the retired museum professional.

“New games are prohibitively expensive. I tend not to buy them much anymore only because of the price.”

Charlotte Smith and her family increasingly rely on their collection instead of buying new expensive board games. Credit: Robyn Quick

Smith and her family have found alternatives to buying new games, such as buying second-hand on sites like eBay.

“For some games, they offer PDF versions for a low price that you can print and stick onto cardboard,” she said.

She added that she does not buy games unless she has played with friends to ensure she likes them.

“We will be going to more board game cafes in the new few years. It means we don’t spend so much money, and the social aspect of gaming is there even more.”

When I first started playing, I didn’t notice the price of games as much as I do now

Charlotte Smith

Rhys Chamberlain, director of Chance and Counters Cardiff, said the combination of the pandemic limiting social interaction and rocketing prices has contributed to the popularity of board game cafes.

“People are more sensible with their money and when looking for entertainment or hospitality, they are looking for experiences better than going to the pub,” he said.

“Once people realised that board games had moved on from Monopoly, they got hooked.”