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All fun and games for York Region board-game designer

By Shelly Khushal

Everyone has their favourite board game, with Crokinole, Jenga, Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly and Scrabble high among the most popular.

In our house, we have many favourites: UNO, Battleship and Taboo. But our all-time favourite is Beat the Parents, a trivia game that pits kids versus parents in a battle of general knowledge. Warning, this game comes with a caution of laughter and hours of fun.

With the weather getting colder, there’s no better way to spend time indoors than to grab your favourite blanket, a cup of hot chocolate, and a good old fashion board game.

But rather than an old favourite, how about considering a new one designed by Aurora board-game designer Mark Kolb.

The ‘Merchant of Fun’ is a former programmer who decided to focus on creating games after his programming career came to an end. He reinvented himself, channeling his creative pursuits into designing games for families. All of his games a decidedly York Region bent.

He has created more than 50 games since 2017, and some have been customized for teachers. His games are a hybrid – appealing equally to family fun and educational support.

Often found at the Aurora Farmers Market during spring and summer, Mark’s games are found at several York Region locations including The Makers Mark in Newmarket, Bookworm and Co in Aurora and the Stouffville IDA on Main Street.

Here are some of Mark’s game, suggested for you and your family to play over the holidays:

Citywide Secret Delivery: A community-centric delivery game that has been developed recently with different game board maps for all towns in York Region and beyond. It’s all about delivering secret items to secret locations around your town while your family tries to delay you (and vice versa). Watch out for “porch pirates”. Includes pizza delivery add-on and hybrid online community interaction. Choose between game board maps for: Aurora, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Stouffville, King, Muskoka, Bradford, and more.

Canada Connections: is a bilingual word association game where all things Canadian can be connected, like POUTINE+FOOD or RESPECT+VETERANS. This game was created just in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

CondoWinium: is a polyomino stacking and balancing game for 2 to 5 players plus a solo mode. It is best described as Jenga meets Tetris meets Dice. You’re competing to build a condominium tower. Each lasercut, wooden Tetris-like tile is a numbered unit to be placed above other units by matching dice rolls.

Scrabblers: Building upon the popularity of Scrabble ™, this add-on introduces players to 2- and 3-letter tiles for extra bonus points. It includes 150 lasercut wooden tiles (same size) and three additional games.

Mark’s top selling card game, Sidelinks (with more than 5,000 sales worldwide) is a hilarious word-association game that brings families together through dialog and salesmanship. Since creating the game, Mark has licensed and sold the game to Outset Media, a wholesale distributor and manufacturer of board games, card games, and jigsaw puzzles to retailers across Canada and the United States. Outset Media is more popularly known for its localized monopoly games such as Aurora-opoly, Newmarket-opoly, Markham-opoly and more.

However you choose to spend the holidays, consider including a board game or two into your routine. There’s so much fun to be had. Now the hard part…which to play first?

Mark Kolb is the owner of Brainy Games. You can reach him at https://www.brainy.games/ His games can be found at several York Region locations including The Makers Mark in Newmarket, Bookworm and Co in Aurora and the Stouffville IDA on Main Street. He can be reached at 416-726-4338 or , and offers free local delivery.

Shelly Khushal is a resident of York Region. This busy mother of two is an active member of the York Region community, attending events and highlighting fun happenings in and around York Region.

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