by Jaclyn Thompson

When the COVID-19 pandemic started shutting down the entire world forcing people to stay indoors for longer periods of time than ever before, the gaming industry was there ready to provide endless hours of physically distanced entertainment. Japanese gaming company Nintendo’s profits tripled and gaming stores in Australia had to stop taking pre-orders for the new Sony PlayStation 5 due to unprecedented demand. Another lesser-known part of the gaming world also got a significant boost in sales and popularity – the trading card game industry.

What are trading cards?

Trading cards are cards that can be collected, traded and used to play battle type games. Tournaments for enthusiasts to battle are organised at local, national and international levels and continue drawing in new players. In recent years there has also been an increase in digital trading card games.

History of Trading Cards

Magic: The Gathering which was released in 1993 holds the Guinness World Record for being the first modern trading card game. There are also many popular trading card games that are based on Japanese anime. Soon after the release of Magic, Japanese company Media Factory released the first set of Pokémon trading cards. You may recall in the late 1990s/early 2000s that these cards became extremely popular worldwide. Everyone who watched the Japanese anime Pokémon was collecting, trading and playing with the cards. The next big game to arrive on the scene was Yu-Gi-Oh which was released by Konami in Japan in 1999 and eventually surpassed the sales of Pokémon cards. Then, in 2000 Japanese company Bandai released a Digimon card game followed by a Dragon Ball card game in 2008, capitalizing on the two popular anime series.

During lockdown, people have been searching for not only a way to keep themselves busy, but also to connect with others. While Japanese manga and anime might be the first things to come to mind when you think about Japanese pop culture, gaming and trading cards have a huge global fan network who can interact with each other while playing. These networks are creating an increasingly interconnected world with Japan at the heart.

Scroll to Top