Board games and local gamer shops making a comeback

GILBERT, AZ - Move over X-box and PlayStation, board game mania is taking over!

Gaming stores across the Valley are seeing enthusiastic crowds who are interested in unplugging and having fun the good ol' fashioned way, but Jeff Caples, owner of Games U in Gilbert said there was nothing old-fashioned about some of the popular games flooding the market right now.

"People are now designing these games from the comfort of their homes. You can play, test it, order paper samples from anywhere in the world. People started making these companies in their garages and putting out these amazing board games that are way beyond Monopoly and don't destroy families like Monopoly does," said Caples. 

He explained that in some of the newer games out now you can modify the board every time you play. Serious gamers were spending hundreds, even thousands of dollars on games, by investing in miniature people to build up their teams.

"Warhammer 40K is a miniature game, you're basically building armies of soldiers. There are human aliens, tanks, guns, lasers, and sharp sticks," said Caples.

For him, the love of board games started in 6th grade with the good old staple, Dungeons and Dragons.

"My neighbor got Dungeons and Dragons for Christmas, and she had no one to play with," said Caples.

He was hooked from the start. Apart from the fun, the plotting, strategizing, and escaping into fantasy worlds, Caples said what he loved most was seeing friends and families coming back together.

"At the end of the day people need other people and they need social contact. I think people are tired of plugging their kids into an iPod, iPad and into video games.That has been my goal from day one, is to see families turn off the TV and go back to kitchen table and settle family disputes with a rousing game of whatever your favorite is," said Caples.

He said many video games could trace their lineage back to Dungeons and Dragons, and there nothing more satisfying than rolling that dice yourself.

Speaking of dice, Caples joked about several bad rolls could make a player superstitious.

"I have seen people throw dice across room, put them in a device and crank them down until they burst in front of the other dice, so that the other dice will know what happens to failures, I had a friend who put his dice in an ice tray if they weren't doing well, to punish them," said Caples.

Board game stores across the Valley have tables set up where customers can play right in the shop. They hold tournaments and even have "date nights" for couples at Games U, said Caples.

He encouraged customers to pre-order games not just for the discounts but also because popular games were limited in stock. They could run out within hours, and there was no telling when new shipment would come in, said Caples.

He talked about the pros of board gaming saying it helped develop critical thinking and social skills. It taught you about the importance of planning and strategy, and for children it also helped develop fine motor skills.

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