What happened to Game Night?

For as long as I can remember, my family has had a game night – up until recently. A “game night” is a day of the week where the family sits down to play a board game and spend time together. Common games include Pictionary, Monopoly, and Cluedo (Clue, in the U.S.A.).

However, in recent years game night has become less of a tradition and more an occassional event. In this post, I’ll be looking at why I think this happened and how we can keep game night alive.


The modern board game

Who doesn’t love a good gaming party? Break out the pink and gold party decorations and let’s have ourselves a game party night!

Do you like board games? You probably do! But when was the last time you saw such a game advertised on TV? Over the last decade board games have left the spotlight, overtaken by their flashier cousins, video games. Board games cannot hope to compare to the opportunity video games offer large companies.

More and more we see board games developed by independents and small companies via ‘kickstarter’; fantastic for the small groups making games, but there’s an inherent problem with advertising. People like you and me will never hear about this game made on ‘gofundme’ – even if it’s the best board game since snakes and ladders.

Monopoly board
Do you know a house that DOESN’T have this?

So with no advertising space for the modern board game, any household you care to check will probably have only the relics of gaming’s Golden Age – Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, chess, and checkers.

And the fact of the matter is that when a game is older than your kids, they probably won’t want to play it every week. If they don’t want to play, then game night isn’t happening.


Proposing a solution

If you want to bring game night to your household, then you need to provide games that everyone wants to play. That means that you have two options:

1. Change the format

Game night doesn’t have to be about board games. Video games are here to stay and there’s a large number of party and family games on the market. While it may not hold quite the same flavour as the traditional game night, a video game that your family can enjoy together brings them together just as well.

Notable such games include Mario Party, Nintendoland, and Rock Band.

2. Start game hunting

If the problem with finding a fun game for your family is the mainstream media, then you’ll have to start looking outside of television and magazines for them. My recommendation is boardgamegeek, a website devoted entirely to board games.

I’ve linked to their board game listings (ranking every game on site), but if you look around you’ll also find forums with reviews, recommendations, and clarification on game rules (including house rules and even simplified, printable, rulebooks).

My personal recommendations to look at are: Catan, Dominion, and Carcassonne. But keep in mind the number of players and the intended age group for each game – Catan is best for those 12+, while Carcassonne is closer to 8+. After all, nothing makes a game more frustrating than one that isn’t right for you.

Hopefully you’ll find a game or two that your family can enjoy together, and having the right game forms the foundation for a successful game night. If you’re looking for a specific type of game, leave a comment below and I’ll make a recommendation for you!

Written by Maxim Borkman

One comment

  • I love having game night with the family. With technology nowadays it is hard to get kids to sit down together and turn off their phones and ipads and just play a board game. It seems like they cannot pay attention. I will try to have more of these game nights, hope it works out.

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