Games and board gaming are changing in America. In this series of articles, the Toy City guys will help introduce and walk you through some of the games that people have fallen in love with like Catan, Ticket to Ride, Splendor, Codenames, app use in games and the rise of Legacy gaming.

Modern board games like Concept are a great way to have fun with friends.

People are finding that new board games can provide adults with a fantastic night’s entertainment. Playing games gives Mom, Uncle Mark or a new friend the chance to be clever or mess up in a joyful group activity.

In the past, board games were simpler, slower and abstract, which led to boredom and frustration for new generations eager to enjoy themselves. For decades, kids progressed past the basic board games to flashier videogames; however, in the last few years things have changed.

In Germany, there was a movement to have a family game night, which produced a resurgence of innovation, design and quality. Every year, they hold a game convention in the city of Essen with more than 150,000 attendees who vote on the year’s best game. Hundreds of games are created each year attempting to entertain families and win the grand prize.

Players around the world have responded positively to all this creativity and demanded better and better games. Modern games are quick-paced, eye-catching and designed to fit within the more hectic lives of players.

One game that has caught on with us at Toy City in Keene is called “Concept.” It was the grand prize winner at Essen in 2014. We have played it during our afterschool programs at Keene Middle School, Marlborough Middle School and with all different age groups at game nights and during the holidays to great success.

In Concept, a player (or team) gets an answer that they try to get the other players to guess by using a Charades-like mechanism. You can easily play with 2-12 players, with one team giving clues for the rest of the players. Everyone is playing all the time either guessing or clueing so you don’t have to wait for your turn.

The main image of Concept is the colorful board filled with emoji-looking pictures. Each picture is tied to three words. The active player uses the images and connections between them to get the guessers to figure out the answer.

There's no limit on guesses, so a lot of ridiculous answers are shouted out. A couple of examples: the picture of a man, woman and child means person/family/group, the picture of television means television/broadcast/series. A beginner clue: To get them to guess your answer “The Simpsons,” you could use Television + Family + Yellow = “The Simpsons.”

While that one was simple, sometimes what seems obvious to one person is often more challenging to others. This disparity is what drives much of the humor while playing the game.

When someone gets stuck on a wrong idea, their absurd answers lead to gales of laughter. Then some passerby guesses the answer just based on what the group has been vocalizing.

One thing that keeps some people from enjoying Charades is shyness. When playing Concept, people are looking at the board, so it’s much easier for timid players to participate.

Concept can lead the players to force themselves to think in new ways to figure out the clues. This kind of effort is healthy and fun. When you give a good clue, you feel happy. Guessing the answer to a hard question is richly rewarding.

Everyone can play and everyone has fun together. It does what board games are supposed to do: bring people together.

For more information, visit Toy City at 133 Key Road in Keene or online at Toy City can be reached at 352-3131 or