Trying to organize a group of people to regularly play games with isn’t always straightforward. I am lucky to have a weekly games night group of four, including myself, with people who live quite close, making it easy for us to meet up. I have previously described how you can play games with different groups of people (see “Night, night“). So this time I want to focus on what to consider when trying to organize regular games nights with friends.
Let’s start by looking at where you might be able to meet up. I think for many people, the choices are at someone’s home, in a pub or at games cafe. Some of you may have access to a room at a community centre as well, which is nice. All of these options have their pros and cons.
If you want to save a bit of money, then having your regular games night at someone’s home is probably the best option. You can bring your own drinks and nibbles, which is a lot cheaper than playing in a pub and having to pay for drinks. You probably want to take turns hosting games night. After all, even though games night is going to be fun, having people round is always a little bit of an intrusion.
Simple things like clearing a table and washing up cups or glasses and maybe even plates and bowls afterwards isn’t necessarily a big issue, but does mean a bit of extra work for the host. Unless you live alone, or your partner or housemates are happy to join games night, it also means that you’re basically reserving a space of the home exclusively for playing games. Even if you have a dedicated games room, people will probably want to use the bathroom at some point and there will be general noise and chatter, if you’re having a fun session. All of these little things add up and are something to bear in mind.
Going to a pub is another option. Depending on what games you want to play, you might be absolutely fine just sitting at a normal table with your drinks and game and have fun. However, a lot of pubs play music and can be quite noisy, and if you want to play games with a larger footprint, you probably want to ask if you can have a separate room. A lot of pubs are very happy to offer that, but it will depend on how many of you there are and if the pub is otherwise booked. It’s definitely worth asking the question. The worst case is that you have to pay for room hire, which you may or may not want to do.
As I said earlier, going to a pub means having to buy drinks, and that cost can quickly add up, even if everyone takes turns paying for a round. However, it can also be a nice treat to go out, have a drink and maybe even share some food, while playing games and generally having fun with your friends. In fact, you might have most games nights at each other’s homes, but then also go to the pub once a month or so, to give everyone a break from being a host.
An alternative to going to a pub is going to a games cafe. These are becoming more and more popular and widespread. So if you have one near you, then it’s definitely worth checking out. However, it will be more expensive to go to a game cafe than hosting games night at home. The games cafe will also have a huge library of games that you can choose from, which will allow you to play games you wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to. As with going to a pub, going to a games cafe could be something you do from time to time, so it is more like a treat than a regular occurrence.
Having games night at a communal room is also often an option. Speak to your local community centre or church. These places often have smaller rooms that you can book in advance, often for free. There will usually be tables and chairs available and you should be able to bring your own drinks and snacks, but ask the question first to make sure. Some community places even have a small kitchen which offers drinks and small snacks often at really good prices. That could be a good compromise between hosting at home and going out. Of course, you can always use a mix of places for games night.
The next question will be how everyone will get to games night. If you live very close together, you might be able to just walk. Most of the people in my games night live very close like that, which is great. However, if people live further apart, then you might want to take a car. Again, offer to take turns giving everyone a lift, so nobody is the driver every time and everyone gets an opportunity to have a relaxing evening.
You may also find that taking public transport is an option. Depending on the distance and mode of transport, you might even have a quick game on the journey to games night, if there are several of you travelling together. It can be fun to have a quick card game or similar.
As I mentioned in my recent review “Bespoke Cargo Bike (Saturday Review)“, going by bike is another very feasible option if your friends are a bit further away, but still in the same town. However, it will depend on what bike you have and whether you intend to bring games to games night – and how many and how big they are.
That brings me to my last point. It’s great if one of your friends has a large collection of games that you can play together, but that then means you probably end up round that friend’s home for every games night, or that the friend has to lug their games over to your place. If your friend with all the games is happy to loan their games to you and your other friends, then you can spread the load, but really you should make sure that all of you have a good selection of games. As you will know, buying games isn’t cheap, so it wouldn’t be fair to expect one person to have all the games.
Generally, having to take games to your friend’s home is always a bit of an undertaking. If you go by car, it’s a bit easier, but it’s still something to bear in mind. So this is another reason why everyone should have a selection of games that everyone enjoys. Of course, if you have elected to go to a games cafe, then you don’t have to worry about bringing games.
So I would love to know if you have a regular games group. If so, where do you meet? Do you take turns hosting it? Who provides the games? Please share your experiences in the comments below. It would be really helpful to find out what others do and share it with everyone.
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