These days, computer games and their evil cousin, video games, seem to have cut into the popularity of boardgames. That doesn't sit well with Frank DiLorenzo, a game fanatic since childhood and the owner of R&R Games in Tampa, Fla. At home, he thinks, families and friends should communicate with one another, not just with their computers or televisions.
"The board game is a socially interactive way to bring the family together," DiLorenzo said. "With computer games, there is no social interaction". As a result, the first two board games offered through his company have a furnishings theme.
In Riddles & Riches, players move from room to room in the upright mansion of the imaginary, recently deceased Horatio Bullthrower. The first to solve two riddles about objects in the rooms wins.
In the just-released Sold, players try to amass the most valuable collection of antiques by buying, selling and auctioning them.
DiLorenzo took great pains to make the pieces in both games realistic. Riddles & Riches features photographs of miniature rooms, while the cards in Sold have pictures of antiques.
"Antiques are hot," DiLorenzo said. "I thought, 'What better way to show actual antiques than with a game?'"
Home related board games aren't that common, said Bruce Whitehill, founder of the American Game Collectors Association.
Whitehill, of Rochester, N.Y., found only a few popular ones &emdash; beyond Clue and Monopoly &emdash; as he looked through his extensive lists. The Merry Milkman had players delivering milk to homes in 1955; MR. Re from l937 had a board with a home cut open to reveal the rooms; The House That Jack Built, a small card game from the 1890s, had pictures of home furnishings on the cards.
A game creator and consultant to the game industry, Whitehill doesn't think board games will ever go out of style.
"There is some Impact when a fad emerges that takes people's time away, like computers," he said. 'But board games always seem to hold their own."
DiLorenzo envisions a boost from the cocooning trend &emdash; that of people spending more time at home. "These games are a bit of nostalgla," he said. "People recall playing with their families and conversing or talking while they're playing"
As a businessman, however, he can't ignore computer games. DiLorenzo has thought of creating a computer version of Riddles & Riches in which players would interact with objects in the mansion
Meanwhile, he has received praise for both new games &emdash; which are available in small shops and can be ordered through Games People Play in Columbus City Center. Some antique stores, too, plan to sell Sold, and miniatures groups are interested in Riddles & Riches. The real test for both games will be time - and family favor.
"We specialize in family games because one of the best things you can do is sit down with family and friends, and pull out some board games" he said. "We're trying to make games that will become classics."
The Columbus Dispatch, Nov. 1 1998, by Kathy Lynn Gray ©1998