Tabletop games tend to encourage people to come together and enjoy some time together. Even solo games are often enjoyed in company with other solo players, and then of course you have a number of multiplayer solitaire games, where people play the same game at the same time, but basically everyone does their own thing. There are many way of people playing games together, so let me look at each one briefly in turn.
The most common and probably most traditional is family and friends coming together to play games. I think we all have played games with our siblings and parents as we grew up. That then extended to friends as we got older, and for many that is still one of the main ways of regularly playing games. People tend to take turns hosting the games night, unless one person has a dedicated games room, maybe even with a proper games table, in which case their place will be preferred of course. Drinks and nibbles usually feature as well, and depending on the make-up of the group, the focus might be on talking and socialising or on playing the game. There is no right or wrong here of course, because it is really up to you and your friends to decide what works.
The next level up is local meet-ups. In fact, that seems to be a growing trend and more and more games groups are popping up all the time. Depending on where you are in the world, you might find a group in your town, or you may have to travel a bit further to join. I intentionally used the word “meet-up” because you will find a lot of groups on the Meetup website at www.meetup.com. Frequency of meetings vary, but many are weekly, and formats vary as well, many focussing on a specific genre of game, but there are also quite a few that follow an open format where anyone can bring a game or two and people then decide what to play on the night. These sessions are great fun and an ideal opportunity to make new friends who share your passion.
Similar to games groups are events hosted by your local games store. Frequency and format of these events will vary, just like for the Meetup groups, but many are weekly and open format. Again this is a great opportunity to make new friends and make contacts with your local games store, who obviously hopes that you have fun and maybe come away with a new purchase. However, there should be no pressure to buy anything, so don’t feel uncomfortable if you just attend to have fun playing games.
Games cafes are another great way for friends to play games. It takes the pressure off being a host and owning a lot of games. You can rely instead on the cafe to provide the food, drink and games. Other than putting away the game, there is also no need to wash the dishes afterwards. However, there is of course a table charge to use the tables, plus the cost of the food and drink, which means it’s not an option for everyone all the time. Games cafes also are great places to host a games themed birthday party or other special occasion, so bear that in mind.
Finally there are of course tournaments. These can take place at a games store, games cafe, an exhibition, or hosted somewhere else. These events usually focus on only a handful of games and the competitive environment won’t be for everyone. However, it is another way of making new friends and a great opportunity to test your skills. Tournaments usually have an entry fee, plus cost of travel of course, so again won’t be something everyone will want to do all the time, but saying that, it is easy to catch the bug and become addicted to official tournaments. The winner of a tournament might be put forward to take part in tournaments abroad, with all or some of the costs covered, which is an interesting incentive. So it’s definitely worth looking into, even if you decide it’s not for you.
So how do you like to play games? Are you a solo player? Are you part of a regular games night? Do you organize a local event? Have you ever taken part in a Meetup meeting? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. I would love to hear how you like to play games.