Several months ago, I talked about one indicator that games are becoming mainstream: seeing flagship franchises such as Mario, LittleBigPlanet, Medal of Honor, and Red Dead Redemption being advertised in train stations and on the sides of buses. (And since then, I’ve seen train station ads for LittleBigPlanet 2, though their slogan isn’t quite as memorable as the “On my planet, the stock market isn’t so scary” used to advertise the original game two years ago.)
This weekend, I saw another indicator, this time for board games. No less august a publication than the Financial Times ran an interview with Michael Lewis, of Liar’s Poker/The Blind Side/The Big Short fame. Were Tim Harford, the FT journalist and economics correspondent, and Lewis chatting over a good meal? (Lunch with the FT is an interview series published every weekend.) Were they chatting over the cricket? Nope, they were chatting over a game of Saint Petersburg.
Of course, one swallow does not a summer make. I understand that Tim Harford is a board gamer*, which is probably why he embarked on this project in the first place, but I don’t see journalists all around the world rushing to their nearest board game shops in order to obtain props for their next interviews. But the FT’s willingness to run with this*, and Lewis’ willingness to be interviewed over a board game, seem to be encouraging signs of gaming (at least, in non-electronic form) being “socially acceptable”. Who knows? Maybe in ten or twenty years’ time, we’ll see “RTS with the FT”.
* He mentions this in an article he previously wrote about Spiel, the German board game convention held at Essen.
** Not for the first time. The FT ran a “Monopoly with the FT” story in December ’10, where the interviewees were a pair of property developers.