After the mad rush and crazy spending spree of the holidays, the search is on for chill, low-key, low-budget good times. If you and your friends haven’t done one before, this is the perfect time of year to start a recurring game night.
But when you search for a “board game store near me,” you might find yourself overwhelmed by all the exciting options when you land on a site and not have any idea the type of game to choose, much less which one.
A general rule of thumb is to pick a light, less challenging game that promotes more laughter and joking around when your game night is with newer friends and acquaintances, as this can help build up a comfort level you might not have around them yet.
Serious gamers and lifelong buds, however, might want to dive in head-first and try a game that takes you out of your comfort zones, i.e., a game that forces you to use a skill that’s challenging for you. You can also do a theme night featuring a board game based on a favourite movie or TV show.
Logistics and Sticking to a Schedule
No matter which game(s) you’re playing, however, be mindful of the guest list. If you’re part of a fairly serious group of gamers, for example, don’t invite friends that are casuals.
It’s also important to pick the number of friends you invite based on the amount of comfortable space you have around your gaming surface. If people are uncomfortable, can’t reach the board, or it takes too long to play their next move because of the number of players, your guests will probably just give up on the game.
Finally, if you want to have a recurring game night, you have to make sure that a game(s) is actually played from start to finish. If you’re hosting a game night, don’t be afraid to take control of the evening. Have at least a rough idea of how much playtime is needed, and give yourself a cushion so that you don’t stay up longer than you want to if a game goes too long. Give your guests a good 30-40 mins of socializing when they arrive. Otherwise, if they spend too much time catching up and socializing, they might lose interest in playing the games or start too late.
Game Nights Aren’t Just Fun – They’re Good Brain Exercise
Board games aren’t just a great way to spend time and a reason to bring friends together; they also give our adult brains a fun way to exercise.
There’s a reason parents and educators love board games for their kids: board games require us to use our frontal lobes when coming up with strategies, and playing board games has been shown to prevent cognitive decline, reduce depression and is associated with reduced Alzheimer’s and dementia in older adults. One board game was even used to help people quit smoking.
Here are two other ways board games are good at healing and improving our mental skills:
They’re Great for Reducing Stress
Did you know that board games have such a powerful impact on stress relief that they are often used as therapy to treat depression, anxiety, stress and high blood pressure? Fun fact, they’re also used in physiotherapy to treat trauma and people with disabilities as they help us exercise our coordination, fine motor skills and muscle and nerve function.
Also, playing strategy games can help distract your brain from constant sources of stress, and having a fun, lighthearted time creates joy and laughter, which can decrease the levels of stress-inducing hormones and boost dopamine and serotonin levels.
Board Games Help Improve Social Skills
Board games create the conditions that are often needed to help people get better in social settings too, like fostering teamwork, building comradery, reducing isolation and improving communication skills.