Wet weekends needn't be dull, writes Gill South.
On rainy winter weekends there is little reason to go out and join the congested traffic. But how do you keep the kids occupied if they're not the types to sit down on the couch with a good book?
Cast your mind back to wet summer holidays at the bach or the caravan park and chances are, board games were involved.
For families wanting to break away from the computer game or TV, and who want to have some interaction with their kids before the merry-go-round of after-school pick-ups and drop-offs resumes on Monday, board games can be just the ticket.
Rob Markley, who has two teenage daughters and a 10-year-old son, says his kids get different things from board games. His son Miles, likes games where he accumulates strengths, which he does with a favourite game called Candamir: the First Settlers. One of his daughters, Samantha, likes deduction and puzzle games.
"For me I like the story, the adventure aspects," Markley says.
The Markley family played Zooloretto last Sunday, which was suitably wet. The father of three started playing what are known as Euro games in the mid-1990s. Games have moved on from Monopoly and Cluedo of old.
People of all ages are playing them because they are so stimulating and enjoyable.
David Taylor, of online board game retailer SeriouslyBoard.co.nz says there are entry Euro games, such as Ticket to Ride, which are perfect for a moochy Sunday afternoon, and it's games like these that are getting people, adults and children, so keen.
Ticket to Ride - a game of accumulating train journeys around the United States or Europe - is something an advanced 6-year-old can play with a grandparent but also something which real "gamers" can enjoy.
"I have yet to show it to someone that didn't like it," says Taylor's wife, Angie.
Many games are online these days, too and can be played with friends overseas. And they don't have to set people against each other. For instance, Pandemic, a popular co-operative game, puts players into a team of experts attending to health catastrophes around the globe.
The Taylors, who are organising next weekend's Bays Board Game Convention in St Heliers, says the hall they are using will have games unpacked and laid out with people on hand to teach families new games.
"We reckon board games are a great thing," Taylor says "We think people agree with us, they just have to have them explained to them."
The convention targets both novice gamers and seasoned players.
"Board games don't discriminate," Taylor says.
"You come and sit down at the table, there's a huge age range, people come from all walks of life."
It is usually a parent who is interested in board games who leads the way and gets the whole family into the pastime, says Dianne McCallum, from Mainly Toys, which has a room called the Games Loft devoted to board games.
"We find a lot more families are trying to play board games as a family.
"It's about getting the TV turned off and having interaction with each other.
"We're getting a lot of families wanting something for older children."
The mother of two used to take new board games home to her kids and get them to work them out and teach her. "My two were guinea pigs."
Children who encounter board games at an early age adapt their thinking and their thought-processing is superb, she says.
She sees children whose parents are enthusiasts playing games for ages much older than they actually are.
"We are finding young couples are playing more board games, too," says McCallum.
* Ticket to Ride
* Stone Age
* Settlers of Catan
* Forbidden Island
* Snow Tails
Game reviews source: boardgamegeek.com
* Board games by the Bay, July 2-3, Tamaki Ex-Services Hall, St Heliers, Auckland. Novices and seasoned gamers welcome. Adults $10 a day or $15 for the weekend, $12 if registering on the website, family pass $45 a day, weekend $50, pre-ordering online $45, primary school kids free.
More coming up in Tauranga, Whangarei, Hamilton.