Urban Fantasy

Will board game designers follow modern fiction trends?

Over the last few years, we have seen quite a large shift in both the popularity and direction that modern fiction has taken. Most of this we can attribute to the global success of Harry Potter, Hunger Games et al and the more accessible comic fantasy authors such as Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt and Robert Rankin.

The recent growth has seen a big push towards the modern, urban fantasy genre. Authors now create fictional, fantasy worlds that co-exist alongside our own lives. Giving fact based detailed descriptions of an underworld previously unknown to us.

In the last couple of years the most successful of these has probably been Ben Aaronovitch with his Rivers of London series. These mix factual locations, in London with an incredibly detailed world filled with magic, fantasy and other worldy beings. Over the next few years, we will start to see more and more of this kind of story telling.

For avid readers, these new worlds become obsessive places that they want to know more and more about. Some of the more hardcore hardcore fantasy fans among you may complain that these aren’t ‘proper’ fantasy novels and that its a dulled down, diluted world that is far more accessible and easier to read. While you could take that standpoint, I think it should be viewed more as a completely different genre. For me the detail in real locations makes the story far more believable – some of these stories are based in locations that I know very, very well. This means that I can almost smell the location as I read the story.

When new genres appear, they have a habit of influencing other types of media and entertainment. So the question is, will we see board game designers start to use these worlds as a basis for new board games?

The question may be better phrased as being what sort of board games would work when applied to this sort of world? The obvious answer has to be some sort of card based strategy board game. Perhaps think Settlers of Catan or Carcassone – these would both work well interwoven with a modern themed fantasy story.

There is a string possibility though that a new style of board game could emerge from this. That makes for very interesting times – anything new has to be good if only as an alternative to the ideas that we regularly see re-hashed under different styles, character sets, TV series branding or locations.

Ultimately though, the question isn’t if, but when. We will start to see the influence of this exciting genre on TV, at the cinema, in video games and for us, as board games…exciting times!