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Rainy Day Games gives forum for intellectual entertainment

For gamers - boardgamers and cardgamers, that is - there aren't many places in the Beaverton area where they can get their fill of dungeons, dragons, Pokemon, wizards and warriors.

But eight years ago, Rainy Day Games, located off TV Highway in Aloha, was born to fill the needs of those gamers by providing a friendly community and a diverse selection of board games, puzzles and collectible card games.

Today, Rainy Day Games bustles with the members of a subculture that is still small in the United States, but continues to grow worldwide: strategy gamers.

It was in the interest of growing that culture that store owners Steve and Amy Ellis and Jeff Abramson decided to open the gaming center nearly a decade ago.

'There's not a lot for kids to do unless they play sports, and we wanted to offer an alternative to that,' said co-owner Steve Ellis. 'It's a good option for the intellectual type.'

Steve explained that the majority of their customers are 'bright kids' and 'high-tech employees from Intel' who come in on weekends to get their fill of gaming. Most of them participate in the tournaments and open play events the store hosts on a weekly basis.

'It's an addictive hobby,' he said. 'It's fun because it's cheap entertainment.'

For Christopher delaMaison, who preferred to go by his Mechwarrior battlemaster name, playing Mechwarrior can become so consuming it can sometimes seem like more than just a hobby.

'This is an all day event, so sometimes I feel like I have a second job,' he explained, pointing to the average game's 3 or 4-hour duration time.

DelaMaison is an Intel contractor by day, where he is currently working on testing a new network card that will be available on the market within the next year. But on the weekends, he frequents Rainy Day, giving demonstrations of Mechwarrior to interested kids.

The game is highly technical, involving battles between armies of machines, but it also involves a great deal of math and critical thinking, which means it tends to draw unique kids, delaMaison said.

'We have a lot of kids here who you could say are very close to being gifted, and they're drawn to the game,' he said. 'This is where we're seeing the next crop of techies come up.'

Indeed, the store is filled with kids and teenagers in addition to interested adults on the weekends; it is especially busy during Friday night Magic, which Steve said has been the store's most popular event since the opening.

Magic, a collectible card game that Steve said has dominated the card game scene for 11 years now, is a strategic game where players construct decks and then duel their opponents. Like most games at Rainy Day it involves a great deal of strategy.

'The games are relatively easy to learn but they're played at a very high level by the best players,' he said. 'You've got to be very bright to play these games well.'

Kyle Tincher, a sophomore at Century High School, comes to the store every weekend to 'play it all,' as he put it.

'You have to think, you have to be one step ahead of your opponent,' Tincher said of one of his favorite games, Mechwarrior.

His favorite subject in school is, not surprisingly, math, but he does not aspire to be a techie. Instead, Tincher said he hopes to someday work as a game tester.

It is kids like Tincher that Rainy Day's owners hope to attract to their store by selling games that keep kids' minds active.

'All of these games have a lot of math and critical thinking involved, not to mention social interaction,' Amy said.

She explained that they sell no video or computer games, aiming to steer kids more toward games that involve active thinking and social communication.

Steve said it was he and his wife's own love of strategy games that led them to open what he calls one of the biggest retail game stores in the country, and it is that same passion that makes the store friendly and fun.

'When we were poor and in college I remember we bought a domino set and a scrabble game,' Amy said.

Ever since then the couple has expanded their game repertoire, and now they share their love with other gamers throughout the Beaverton area.