JUNEAU - As families in Juneau look for ways to stretch their entertainment dollars during the global recession, locally owned toy store Hearthside Books and Toys and researcher NPD Group Inc. have witnessed a return of family game night.
According to NPD Group, Inc., though the overall toy industry is down three percent, sales of traditional family card, board, and dice games are up six percent.
The increase in game sales is due in part to the "stay-cation" phenomenon that is sweeping the country. Instead of taking the family out, parents are taking their families in for game night.
"Games are a great way to bring the family together, and in these tough times, they are an excellent value," said Mary Cogswell, manager of Hearthside Books. "Spending $20 on a game can provide parents with a source of entertainment that can be drawn on again and again."
Game sales have been especially high for low cost games. Game manufacturer Continuum Games, Inc. reported that 85 percent of its sales in 2009 have been of products that are $10 or less.
"Our low cost products have taken off this year," said Greg Hughes, game inventor and owner of Continuum Games Inc. "Sales of our family card game Discombobulation have steadily climbed after the holidays, which is unusual. Discombobulation is a lot of game in a little box, and that's exactly what families are looking for these days."
Discombobulation is a fast-paced card game where the goal is to play all of your cards before someone can discombobulate you with one of 10 unique Discombobulation challenges. Discombobulation challenges are 10 games within the game that put you head-to-head against other players to compose rhymes, sing popular songs, make lists, mimic others, remember nicknames, and much more.
For example, if someone plays the Maestro discombobulation card, they name a song that all players have heard before, like the National Anthem or Jingle Bells, and sing the first line. The next player must sing the next line. This continues around the table until someone doesn't know the next line or makes a mistake. The first player to mess up draws more cards.
Another discombobulation challenge is Alias A.K.A. The player of the Alias A.K.A. card picks a theme, like superheroes, and then gives all players a superhero name. From that point forward, players must remember to call each other by their new names. The first to forget has to draw more cards.
"Discombobulation is a great new game," Cogswell said. "Our store thrives on finding products that are new and unique. We have success selling games like Discombobulation because we play them and can help explain to our customers what makes them fun."
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