Love Thy Nerd
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How to Start a Game Night

Hosting a game night can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to plan and organize it effectively. If you’re unsure where to start or have experienced low attendance in the past, don’t worry! I’ve been part of a team that successfully organized a monthly community game night with an average attendance of 40+. We’ve learned valuable lessons along the way, and today I’ll share them with you. In this article, we’ll discuss setting expectations and goals, choosing the right time and location, organizing the first game night, and more.

Why Host a Game Night?

As Ryan Reynolds once said, “But why?” It’s essential to determine the purpose behind starting a game night. At Love Thy Nerd, we’re passionate about board games, so when our friend Gage approached Matt Warmbier and me to help start a game night, our immediate answer was a resounding “Yes!” Our main goal was to create a gathering point for our local community, not limited to our friend group or church family, but open to anyone in our neighborhood who loved board games. We aimed to build relationships and foster connections through our shared passion. Starting a game night can also serve other purposes, such as church gatherings or friend group meet-ups. Defining your purpose early on will guide your decision-making process.

When and Where?

Knowing why you want to host a game night will inform your choices regarding when and where to hold it. We opted for a weekday to accommodate more people who might have more flexibility during the week than on busy weekends. Specifically, we settled on the third Thursday of each month because of the memorable alliteration.

Once you determine the timing, you’ll need a suitable venue with enough tables and space to accommodate your growing group. Some recommended options include local coffee shops, community centers, libraries, your friendly local game store (LFGS), or even your own home if you have enough space. In our case, after considering various possibilities, we decided to host the game night at our local church, despite it not being explicitly a “church” game night. Our church had a strong track record of reaching out to the community through events like swing dancing classes, farmers markets, trunk-or-treats, and concerts. Additionally, it provided ample room for game tables, space for expansion, and a safe environment for kids to run around.

How to Start a Game Night?

Now that we’ve covered the why, when, and where, let’s discuss how to kickstart your game night. Here are some key tips:

Don’t do it alone: Gather a small group of 3-4 people who are enthusiastic about organizing the game night. This way, even if no one else shows up initially, you’ll still have enough people to enjoy a game together.

Stay consistent: Once you settle on a schedule, strive to maintain it. Utilize tools like Facebook events, church bulletins, Discord, or Heylo to keep participants informed about the details. We’ve found success using all four of these platforms to spread the word.

Familiarize yourself with games: Bring along a selection of games you’re familiar with, especially ones you’ve played countless times. This way, you can teach newcomers who may not have played those games before. Some nights, you may find yourself solely teaching and not playing, but that’s part of the experience. Encourage attendees to bring games they’d like to play, teach, or learn, as you don’t have to provide every game yourself.

Have fun: Remember, at the end of the day, it’s just a game night. Don’t stress about making everything perfect. Enjoy yourself and create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. Be patient as your game night develops and grows. As long as you’re playing games and having fun, that’s a success in itself!

If you’ve followed these suggestions and still find yourself facing challenges, don’t be discouraged. Building a thriving game night takes time and patience. Stay persistent and maintain your consistency. In the meantime, keep playing games with your friends and continue spreading the word about your game night.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to foster a sense of community and provide an enjoyable space for people to come together and bond over board games. So, keep the spirit of gaming alive and embrace the joy it brings.

Happy gaming, nerds!

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