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Game Nights

I while ago I received this email:


My society (a very tiny group of individuals just trying to bring fun to a deserving town in central Pennsylvania) would like to host a monthly Games Night in our town and I'm wondering if you have any suggestions for making it a fun night for everyone. I have the basics covered: offer a variety of games so everyone has something to enjoy, food, etc. But I'm wondering if there are other things I can do to lure people in and then keep them coming back? These won't necessarily be my friends so I can't apply guilt to make them show up. I have to offer a really fun night.

Do you have any suggestions?


Now, after many, many months, I've gotten around to writing a reply.

The Care And Feeding Of Your Game Group.

Posted on May 08, 2007 to Games


I've had a couple of Wii Bowling nights and they were a blast.

Posted by: Mike on May 8, 2007 3:02 PM

Thank you, Matthew! Based on your advice, I'm going to look into a more public setting for our Games Night. I think that might help... I'll also stress the "relaxing" part of it. Folks may be remembering really intense Monopoly games from their youth and that's just not what we're doing.

Thank you!

Posted by: amy on May 8, 2007 8:06 PM

Hi, Matthew,

I've been reading your blog for a few months now and I want to thank you since I really enjoy it. You're funny and the content is clean, a feat it seems not too many humorists have the intelligence or creativity to pull off today--throwing out a swear word is far from ingeniously bringing about a sophisticated mass catharsis. By the way, what happened to Moby Dick? I enjoyed that.

Anyway, what finally got me to say hello is your grandfather. He was also funny, and the idea of a chuckling old man having a great time putting together a letter like that is such a terrific mental image. Eighty-seven and still trouble...

By the way, it might interest you to know that I'm an ultra-orthodox Jew living in Jerusalem. You never know who's reading you out there.

Thanks again,


Posted by: Braha on May 9, 2007 2:27 AM

I concur re Settlers of Catan... good game, requires lots of strategy, but fairly easy to get into playing.

Posted by: jimf on May 9, 2007 6:46 AM

how long did it take you to reply? When was her party? shame...

Posted by: Stephanie on May 9, 2007 9:08 AM

Braha, the piece Matthew links to is part of a larger feature that includes a piece by Yehuda Berlinger, who is also a gamer living in Jerusalem.


Posted by: Sean on May 9, 2007 10:13 AM

What town is this? I live in central PA and like to playing games.

Posted by: Tim on May 9, 2007 10:18 AM

I enjoyed the article. Lots of good tips.

Do you have any advice on ways to keep androids from ruining the all-human game night experience?

Every Turing test I can come up with either fails or gets mis-interpreted as a pre-game trivia contest.

Posted by: rob cockerham on May 9, 2007 3:27 PM

Matthew, good advice, well done. It turns out that being nice and friendly counts for more than winning or even playing for most people.

So I have a private group for hardened gamers, where we play brand new games and learn the game together, and call each other bastards.

And then I have a public game club, where courtesy and respect come first (no swearing). And we make sure new people turning up are greeted properly (handshake, names, welcome, what sort of games do you like?) and we make sure someone sits down with them and plays a fun game. If someone is left standing around, we make sure the next game that starts includes them.

Hey! That's My Fish! and Through the Desert are great starters, and Diamant too. Anything that shows them games are not Monopoly and gets them thinking and making decisions in the first minutes are winners. For non-gamers, it's a revelation.

But, and this is so true as you say, if they don't want to play, nothing you can say will make them.


Posted by: jon on May 10, 2007 12:45 PM

Hey Matthew,
We meet once a week, not bi-weekly. Every Tuesday, in fact. You should come back and play with us again sometime.

Take care,

Posted by: Nathan on May 11, 2007 9:54 AM

thanks for yet another fabby post! me and the seester coordinate a family game nite and what a suprise it was that some family wanted to eat and booze while others wanted to chat it up! it took like 7 hours to play one measly game of scrabble. now i know - set the purpose! nice!

Posted by: b on May 15, 2007 9:00 PM

Oh, it's one of those speed-reading things, I suppose. Earlier today, when I first read your post about McD's, I thought it said Less dangerous than eating a Circus

Posted by: Bock the Robber on May 18, 2007 2:13 PM