While still something of a niche hobby, Tabletop gaming (board games, role-playing games and most games that you play atop a table) has practically exploded with the popularity of shows like Geek & Sundry's TableTop and successful conventions like GenCon. There's even an annual International Tabletop Day, where fans of tabletop gaming get together everywhere and play for the day. This particular popularity has trickled into pop culture most recently, and not just within the worlds of sitcoms like [The Big Bang Theory](series:200751) (which TableTop host and Star Trek alum Wil Wheaton regularly guest stars on). These comedians aren't just playing your standards, like Monopoly - they're on the next level, playing in-depth strategy games, or at least trying and failing to explain them to their co-stars.
[Parks and Recreation](series:214218) is one of several shows that have recently decided to highlight this interesting hobby, with the in-show creation of Cones of Dunshire, a seemingly nonsensical game created out of sheer boredom. Thanks to Mayfair Games, though, the foamy board game's rules were solidified and introduced to the crowd at this year's GenCon. Here's how it's presented in the show:
But Cones of Dunshire isn't the only board game on TV. An assortment of both fictional and non-fictional board games have made their way into our everyday pop culture; some might not even be games you're aware of. So let's start with the obvious...
Dungeons and Dragons - Everywhere, ever
Is there really any way to sum up how Dungeons and Dragons has affected not only nerd culture, but pop culture as well? From an honorable mention in E.T. to appearing on a variety of modern-day shows (Community, Futurama, and The Simpsons have all paid homage) and inspiring countless video games, D&D has solidified it's place as a pillar of geekdom in mainstream culture. It's so massive that radical conspiracy groups filled with bored midwestern parents have demonized it and called it the work of Satan. In lieu of the many nods to D&D in our everyday lives, here's a movie made by the lesser minds of religious propaganda:
Settlers of Catan - Broad City
The ladies of [Broad City](series:1225960) don't really hide the fact that they're nerds. Ilana Glazer has been hosting a successful YouTube channel where she plays video games and talks about geeky goodies every week and one skim through Abbi Jacobsen's tumblr shows that both of these ladies probably have D20's in their back pockets, ready to go at a moment's notice. Okay, okay, I'm assuming a lot here, but in an episode of Comedy Central's hit show from last season, Ilana and Abbi discussed Settlers of Catan, a game I consider the "level-up" for tabletop beginners. Settlers of Catan also appeared on Parks and Rec - it was played at Ben's bachelor party, of course.
Carcassonne - Weeds
This wasn't a huge mention, but classic board game Carcassonne was mentioned in Season 2, Episode 7 of Weeds, though it isn't shown. The son of the DA gets upset when his father goes on a date with Nancy on a night where they'd made plans to play the classic European board game.
'Course, pop culture has also influenced board games, as well. Several shows and movies have spawned their own board games (and no, I don't just mean editions of Scrabble) that are on the market and ready to play.
Star Wars X-Wing
X-Wing was, actually, the first board game that I purchased as an adult. At first, it's a little confusing to understand - make sure you have a flat surface! - but after a while, the game turns into a fun adventure based entirely on guessing what your opponent's next move is. It also involves really cool collectible miniatures, so if you're someone who loves board games AND decorating your shelves, this one's for you.
Probably the only mentioned board game that I haven't played yet, Firefly got saddled up with a tabletop game a while back, and the fandom has taken to it pretty well. Players find themselves in aboard their trusty ship, where they pick up jobs, outsmart other players, and avoid increasing numbers of Reavers.
Game of Thrones
This intricate strategy game based off of the hit TV show and book series very much reflects it's roots, in that it takes hours to play and is extremely cut-throat. The most basic idea of the game matches the source material to a T (see also: kill anyone who gets in the way of your butt settling onto the Iron Throne) but this expansive game can occupy a full day without a miniscule yawn.
And of course...
The movie based on board games that spawned a board game that made you actually want to be part of a high-stakes tabletop-gone-reality gaming experience. One of Robin Williams' classic films (in that you've just got to remember it whenever you think of him) the movie also featured a very young Kirsten Dunst as one of the main characters. The actual jumanji board game, by the way, is loads of fun and super easy to teach. If you manage to get your hands on a copy, you won't regret it. Promise.
Has your favorite board game been featured in TV or Movies? Let me know which ones in the comments below!