Board games are back and better than the old family favourites.

A young Auckland couple with more than 70 board games in their collection are among the growing number of adults forking out hundreds of dollars for the hobby.

Board game stores and cafes are reporting more diversity in the types of people taking up a pastime that is traditionally seen as something for kids or boring family holidays.

Online retailer Mighty Ape reported an increase of 25 per cent leap in board game sales last year, plus 15,000 new board game customers.

"We currently have over 2300 games but we are aiming to increase that to 3000 for this year," said spokeswoman Karena Copestake.

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Trademe has also seen a 10 per cent increase in board game sales in January 2018 compared to the same time a year ago, despite the sunny weather getting people out of the house.

Spokeswoman Millie Silvester said the family classic Monopoly had a 21 per cent lift in sale numbers for January.

But it's more than childhood games that are drawing people in.

We have Twilight Imperium, that game itself is like eight hours.

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Ming Yi Lee and her partner James Williams have about 72 board games between them, and few of them are traditional.

Over the summer holidays, Lee, 24, got a new game and played it every second day, but she said they would usually go through "phases" of playing. When they do play, it can go for hours.

Ming Yi Lee and James Williams, an Auckland couple with a huge board game collection.
Ming Yi Lee and James Williams, an Auckland couple with a huge board game collection.

"We have played 10am until about 9pm . . . we have Twilight Imperium, that game itself is like eight hours."

I don't think there's enough marketing in New Zealand to push those new varieties of games that have sort of always been there but people haven't been exposed to them.

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Lee said the average cost of a board game was about $90, meaning their collection was likely worth more than $6000.

"I think there's still a lot of people in New Zealand, at least, who are still, you know, they associate board gaming with Monopoly and Chess. That obviously puts people off," she said.

"I don't think there's enough marketing in New Zealand to push those new varieties of games that have sort of always been there but people haven't been exposed to them."

More diversity among board game buyers

Manager of Wellington board game store Cerberus Games, Keith Labad, said "more and more" people were coming into the store, including a wider variety of people.

"You're getting a lot more young adults who are wanting to play some games with their flatmates," he said.

"When the store opened four years ago, the board game section of it was maybe those two walls."

Keith Labad of Cerberus Games, said the store used to only have two walls stacked with board games. Now most of the shop is covered in board games.
Keith Labad of Cerberus Games, said the store used to only have two walls stacked with board games. Now most of the shop is covered in board games.

Now most of the stores walls and several extra shelves are stacked high with games.

The increasing selection of games could be partly put down to more people using Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites to gauge interest in a board game concept and raise the money to make it.

It also helped when games made an appearance on TV. More people were interested in Settlers of Catan when it appeared on Shortland Street, and others wanted to get their hands on Ticket to Ride after it was played on The Big Bang Theory.

Bigger, more complex board games were popular with those in their mid 20s to mid 30s, he said.

'Steady increase' of people getting into board games

At Wellington board game cafe Caffeinated Dragon Games, co-owner Susan Wells charges $5 a head for people to come in and play games to their heart's content with friends, and drink some coffee while they're at it.

We do get quite a few mix of university students up to young to middle aged professionals. it is quite a large-spanning group, really.

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Monopoly is not one of the games available to play at the cafe, as it tends to cause too much angst among players.

"People are getting more aware there are other games, other than traditional Monopoly," said Wells, who has more than 300 games in her personal collection at home.

There has been a "fairly steady increase" of people getting into board games over the three years the cafe has been open. International statistics Wells had seen said 20 per cent more people per year were taking them up.

"We do get quite a few mix of university students up to young to middle aged professionals. it is quite a large-spanning group, really."

Top five board games

Website Board Game Geek is a board game database with thousands of users and a ranking of all available games. These are the site's top games.

1. Gloomhaven - A cooperative card-based game where players take on the role of wandering mercenaries who must explore and plunder new locations.

2. Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 - A cooperative campaign game in which players work as a team of disease-fighting specialists to stop the outbreak of deadly plagues.

3. Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilisation - A civilisation building game in which each player tries to build the best civilisation.

4. Twilight Struggle - A two-player game simulating the Cold War, in which players move units and exert influence in attempts to gain allies and control for their superpower.

5. Terraforming Mars - Players act as giant corporations working to raise the oxygen, temperature and water levels on Mars to make it habitable.