When you work for a game company, you get used to people asking a lot of questions about your job. I agree, it is a bit unusual and certainly lots of fun. What surprised me most, when I started with Out of the Box Publishing, was how many people wanted to be invited to game nights. Many of these people are people I have known for years, and they had never invited me over for games, nor had I ever heard them talk about games, why were they suddenly so interested in playing games?
I have since determined that there are two reasons why people don’t host game nights. The first is that they just don’t think of it. The second is that they don’t know how to host a game night, or they are nervous that people will not have fun. After hundreds of game nights with many varied groups, I have gathered the essential elements to make your game night easy and fun!
• Try to match your game to your group. For example, a wild party game might be perfect for three couples on a Saturday night, but might not be as much fun with Grandma and Grandpa on a Sunday afternoon.
• Know the rules and game components before your friends or family come over. Even if you are playing an easy to learn game, like The Chain Game, many game players prefer to have rules explained to them rather than read to them. You get to be the referee so it helps if you are prepared to answer questions regarding the rules of the game.
• We already mentioned trying to match your guests to the type of game you are playing, but also try to match the number of players to the type of game you are playing. If the game requires teams, try to have an even number of players. If the game is only for 2 players, invite only one person, or have other games for the rest of the group to play while 2 are playing the 2 player game.
• Try to find people who enjoy games and won’t be constantly distracted. Even if you are playing a game where people can come and go, like Backseat Drawing, it will not be nearly as much fun if one of your players constantly leaves the room to answer his or her cell phone.
• Choose a location with good lighting (particularly if your players are older). Make sure that you have enough chairs for everyone and a big enough table. Round or square tables work best, but an average rectangular dining table or coffee table will do.
• Snacks, drinks and games go together! Make sure to pick snacks that aren’t greasy or sticky and have plenty of napkins on hand, so you don’t ruin your games. Pretzels and M&Ms are good choices.
• Music always helps make it feel more like a party, but choose something that isn’t distracting, and keep it low enough that players can hear each other talking.
• Consider locations other than just your living room. Coffee shops are an easy option, many game retailers have a gaming room, and most libraries have “talking rooms,”—all make great gaming locations. For adults, bars with good lighting work well too.
• Games work any day of the week and any time of day, but setting a time late on a week night can really put a damper on a great party game. Also, you may want to set an end time. If you get a great party game going, your guests may never want to leave!