Board games find adult market in New Zealand

Toyworld franchise owner David Primus says they've tripled their range of games after a "massive increase in demand" (Getty)
Toyworld franchise owner David Primus says they've tripled their range of games after a "massive increase in demand" (Getty)

Andrew Irwin doesn't like to think about how much money he's spent on board games over the years.

The Christchurch board game junkie has collected over 200 games worth thousands of dollars. He's part of a global resurgence in board games for adults, which are taking over cafés, public spaces and people's living rooms as enthusiasts make the switch from digital to dice.

"I have not actually calculated how much money I've spent on the games. In a way, I think that it might terrify me if I did. But the time spent with friends and my children is worth every cent I've spent," Mr Irwin says.

"I mean people are going to pubs and playing 'Love Letter', they're going to events and playing the bigger games and going to people's houses and chatting over board games."

This new generation of games have little in common with childhood favourites such as Monopoly, steering away from luck to rely heavily on strategy.

Many of the most lauded games come from Germany, where the hobby has long been popular. The country even hosts its own annual awards ceremony and the coveted top award, the 'Spiel Des Jahres', leads to a massive boost in sales for any game title that boasts its logo on their box.

Settlers of Catan won the award in 1995, and it's now sold well over 20 million copies worldwide.

It's proving a boon for businesses in New Zealand who stock the new style of adult-focused board games.

Toyworld franchise owner David Primus says they've tripled their range of games after a "massive increase in demand" in the last three years.

"It's incredibly social to have a game, and people are trying to find ways to get off technology and interact with each other," he says.

Local distributor Pixel Park has also seen, on average, 20 to 30 percent growth in sales each year since opening 17 years ago.

That level of interest has led to the creation of specialised board game cafés in cities across the world - including Auckland's very own Cake N' Ladders. Owner James McFadgen says the level of interest has been "absolutely nuts".

"It's like having to sort human Tetris of people around the tables to make sure everybody gets a seat."

It's a resurgence that's bringing board games back for good - and it might even have made them cool again.

Newshub. 

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz