As the Registration Coordinator for FallCon, I'm often the first point of contact for our new attendees. With only 1 day left before the convention, it got me thinking about my introduction to gaming and how I introduce my friends and family to this hobby.
I have fond memories of growing up with board games: sleepover parties when we would play Monopoly marathons, the Game of Life or the Perfect Wedding, when we all wondered what life would be like when we get older. You could call me an avid, social board gamer. To me, board gaming is a night-off, a time to relax and have fun. Here I am all grown up, and not much has changed, I like introducing the board game hobby to others. I enjoy bringing people together to play games, to learn about my opponents, or teammates, through their style of play and their selection of board games. It’s no big surprise to find me hauling games over to a friend’s house, for date night or on vacation!
Many of my friends and family participate in board game nights. Recently, my husband has joined our family gaming circle. Today, I can say with confidence that Nick enjoys playing as much as I do. I write this blog post to share his story, and my thoughts about introducing the board game hobby to others.
Board games are a great way to get to know others. When considering introducing a particular board game to someone, ask yourself some questions:
- Are they interested in sitting down to play a board game?
- What type of board game would they like to play?
- What games will compliment their personalities?
If you hardly know this person, you could casually offer to: 1) play a game, 2) host a game night, or 3) bring them to the games store to play. You’ll quickly determine if they’re wiling to play, and if they’re willing to commit. Be flexible and take it slowly. For newbies, gaming could be an investment of time and energy, and you want them to enjoy the hobby as much as you do! On the other hand, if you know the person well, compare their day-to-day activities to game preferences. What application(s) do they have on their phone or ipad? How about their computer? Do they like numbers or words, solo play or team play? Do they have a competitive edge about them?
We have a picture from the summer of 2008 tacked on our fridge, a reminder of good times. The photograph captures a shot of Nick, his three buddies, and I playing the light-hearted party game: Cranium. In my opinion, party games like Cranium, take commitment and willingness of participants. You must be prepared to act absolutely kooky. Depending on the card colour drawn, you may be required to get up and role play Elvis Presley singing Viva Las Vegas or hum the tune happy birthday! Before you know it your belting songs or swinging your hips. Silly is the goal of the game! Well, and the luck of the dice roll to get to the end. And for some, games like these never find their way into their board game collection. Extraverted, nonsensical party games are not for everyone. Trust me, I know. I mean, who wants to play a game like this with someone they just met? Well I did, and with his friends by his side, Nick agreed. What a perfect scenario to get to know him.
In this instance above, Cranium turned out to be the perfect introductory game, especially when Nick and I were newly dating. Something fun, but not too complicated. Nick’s friends were present, people he felt at ease with. It was a supportive atmosphere. The game could be as competitive or non-competitive as the players made it. Winning wasn’t necessarily the objective of the game, and wrong answers wouldn’t cost the game. I learned a lot about him from one board game night. Gaming is a great way to judge of character for any relationship, even people you have just met.
When deciding what game to play, find others strengths and select games that play on their strengths. As time went on, I tuned into other things about Nick. He’s good with words. He plays Scrabble and Drawsomething on his iphone. He uses AutoCad, and he is in tune with his environment. Nick is calm under pressure. And puts on a great Poker face. So because of these traits I knew he would enjoy a different type of game altogether.
The abstract game Q•bitz, published by Mindware (2009) was another nice low-key game to play with Nick. Q•bitz
is a simple dexterity and memory game for 2-4 players. Using coloured blocks, individuals race to re-create pictures from the pattern depicted on the card. It works well for those competitive folk, with a sharp memory and good spatial relation skills. Nick has both of these characteristics and consistently kicks my butt when we play this game! I guess it doesn’t hurt to win a game or two to start enjoying the hobby! Bragging rights are essential in some game circles ☺
Keep in mind, when offering to play a game, it’s important you know the game and have read the rules at least once. Nothing looses a crowd’s interest quicker than reading the rules. Provide a quick, light- hearted overview. Most people learn by doing and will pick it up quickly by just playing. Suggest a practice round, to work out the kinks. A board game comparison might help too.
Vacation is great opportunity to play games with others because they are often relaxed and captive. This summer I taught my husband Nick how to play Lost Cities on a camping trip. Lost Cities is a fast-paced two-player card game, with the objective to earn points by achieving progress in expeditions to five different lost cities. We used our marshmellow roasting stick to keep the cards from flying away in the wind and we challenged our math and strategy skills with each expedition round. Not only did it take one game for Nick to learn the rules, but by the second game, he was beating me! Ah, foiled yet again!
Nick has done a good job keeping up with the family. First time to the house, Dad broke out a board game after dinner! Challenge accepted. Gracious in defeat and in victory, I think Nick’s done well and passed the many board game tests set forth. No doubt I could go on about Nick’s gaming adventures, but in short, it’s fun having a new sidekick to play games with!
In summary, the following are good pointers to consider when introducing the board game hobby to others:
- Get to know your audience. Assess. Find interest.
- Keep it simple. Make it comfortable.
- Switch it up. Play different games. Watch for disinterest or uneasiness.
- Step it up. Challenge new board gamers.
- HAVE FUN!!
- Repeat as necessary!
What approach do you use when introducing a board game to someone?