02/04/2015 02:23 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Video and the Tabletop: How Millennials Play the Game

It's usually on Saturday nights when tables are hot. Game players across the country by the millions are rolling dice and moving the playing pieces. Today these traditions take on new forms, technology and identity. More players. More games.

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For 2015, the numbers are pretty compelling. Games are going big.

  • More than $25.3 billion will be spent on Video Games, new and used. (Newzoo)
  • Another $9.7 billion will be spent on new-tech games hardware alone. - (NPD)
  • Board game sales are projected to near the $800 million mark. (NPD)

The way people get their games has changed; smart phones and tablets are the reason why. Manufacturers and marketers are working to get their products in front of this new generation. What worked before, doesn't work any more.

The Changing of the Guard

Retail stores have taken heavy sales losses over the past two decades, with no sign of those losses slowing down.

Here are some examples.

  • Target, has chosen to close all locations in Canada, reducing their store count by 133 locations. (GamePolitics)
  • Gamestop closed 120 locations in 2014. This is on the heels of an even more massive closing binge, that shuttered more than 500 locations the year before (GameFront)
  • Independent Game retailers don't have ongoing statistics, but an estimated one in six fails each year.

With all these losses, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Crowdfunding resources like Kickstarter and Indiegogo embrace the tabletop and video games markets, and afford opportunities for games enthusiasts to support, purchase, and help their favorite publishers continue to not only create, but also sell games through non-standard means.

Game makers, old and new, are equal in the eyes of the internet, and quality training videos for their respective products is not only a good idea, but is necessary in the new markets. Whether utilizing a la carte self-help sites like YouTube, or turning to full-service video delivery sites like Uscreen, the latest and greatest, the new and agile companies are creating and distributing information about their games directly to the consumer.

  • Wil Wheaton's TableTop video show on Geek and Sundry introduces new games and allows viewers to watch celebrities and industry leaders play tabletop games.
  • Well-known game reviewer Tom Vassel walks players through new games rules, and shared his views about the titles on his internet show, Dice Tower
  • Manufacturer Mayfair Games actively creates their own teaching and training videos for their titles, to help cross the line between table top and video methods.

There are distinct advantages for using video to teach prospective players.

  1. Manageability: If you get confused, you can just back up the video and re-watch what you missed.
  2. Utility: With services like Youtube or Uscreen, you can have versions of the instructions for any device, any format. And it doesn't even need to be in the box!
  3. Forbearance: Even the best demonstrator, can have a bad day. With video, players learn at their own pace. Every time.

Games Companies can Monetize the Learning Process

There are so many new games on the horizon, a player has a very tough time learning them all, or even being aware they exist. For this reason, consumers are willing to pay for quality video instruction and strategy tips.

Market-savvy platforms therefore are gaining ground, by providing key tools to the content providers that YouTube simply cannot. For instance, professional games companies are realizing they can distinguish themselves from their more amateur competitors by selling their videos to consumers through either subscription or per-view means through pay services like Amazon, or the latest and simplest way to sell video, Uscreen, that provides even greater control and video presentation options.

The sheer joy of face to face play means that tactile Table Top games will always have a place in our closets. What matters to the player is that they get to play, and that means learning that's fast and simple.

Videos are perfect for sharing information and instruction, because its visual nature can transfer meaning faster, share more details and can, with a proper FAQ section of the menu, answer those questions that a written instruction manual can't.

Game makers will continue to adapt to the new marketplace, the millennial experience will continue to drive changes in how people play and the value of social engagement will help to make these changes rapidly.

Whether or not you play TableTop games in the past, 2015 will be the year to give them a try.

Do you have a favorite game that might just be the next big social hit? Where do you go for information on tabletop games, and where do you go to play? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!