Board game culture in Finland
November 30, 2021
In the 21st century, the board game culture in Finland has developed around the so-called “new board games”. The new board games are based more on skill than luck and are not just aimed at children. Enthusiasts of new board games are often young adults with a background in video or role-playing games.
According to the 2015 Player Barometer, about 75 percent of Finns play board and club games. 25.9 per cent of Finns were active board players who play at least once a month or more often. Once a week, 5.6 percent played. The most popular game was among 20-39 year olds. Women were slightly more active players than men.
The first board game on the Finnish market was published in 1862. A fun trip to Aavasaksa is a dice and progress style game where you get to know the sights of Finland. In addition to entertainment, the games of the time were educational: the Sampo game was about the Kalevala. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, games about current events were published, such as the Battle of the Red and White in Finland in the 1918s and 1960s. Board games moved to supermarkets, but fewer and fewer games were published. Attention to the appearance began when games had previously been published in envelopes even without game pieces. Before the 1980s, Finnish board game culture was largely based on games aimed at children and their parents. Popular games included various card games as well as classic board games such as African Star, Kimble and Monopoly. In the 1980s, games with more moving parts began to enter the market, but success in games was still based on luck. Role-playing, miniature and strategy games also arrived in Finland, but there were few enthusiasts. However, video gaming began to grow in popularity, leading to an increase in the acceptability and appreciation of gaming in the 1990s. Board games began to be launched in Germany, targeting both video and role-playing and strategy players. In games, the importance of luck was small and the win would be settled by strategic moves. On the other hand, the games were also designed to be short-lived and themed to a more adult taste. The games of the new era arrived in Finland in the 21st century, when game clubs began to emerge and the import and translation of games began to become profitable. In 2004, the Finnish Board Game Association was founded, which had started its activities five years earlier under the name of the Finnish Diplomacy Society. The previous club had focused on the small district Diplomacy hobby, but the new club focused on all kinds of board games.
An important turning point in the growing popularity of new board games and the formation of board game culture was the Finnish version of Carcassonne (2004) published by Lautapelit.fi. Along with Menolippu (Finnish translation 2004) and the settlers of Catan (Finnish translation 2004), it became one of the games where new people were introduced to the hobby. With the growing popularity of the hobby, Finnish designers also entered the industry. Touko Tahkokallio's Eclipse was the most internationally known board game designed by a Finn in 2011. Board games were first brought to Finnish libraries for loan in the early 2010s. In 2016, there were approximately 2,500 board games in the collections of the Helsinki City Library. Board games were borrowed more than 15,000 times in Helmet libraries in 2015. Finland's first board game café, Taverna, was opened in Tampere in 2016. In 2018, a board game café, Cafe Boardgame, was also opened in Helsinki.
Every year, the Finnish Board Game Association organizes the Board Play!
In 1994, the Finnish Toy Association began awarding the Games of the Year and Children's Games of the Year awards. In 1999, the Strategy Game of the Year category was added. In 2017, a group of board game bloggers set up their own Player of Choice -