John-Michael Gariepy

Game Night, Part 1: Getting Your Game On!

[Hey!  It’s Game Night!  Of all the articles I’ve written for GFG so far, I’m most proud of this three part article.  The concept is simple:  There are a lot of people who need help getting a game group together.  Here’s what I know.

While I may have picked up a few tricks over the years, the unfortunate news is that I probably know either as much as you do on the subject, or just a little more.  That’s dangerous territory.  When somebody writes a 3- part, 3,000 word essay to me filled with things I already know, I’m rarely interested.  It’s a good thing I’ve got a great sense of humor, so the article is worth reading even if you already know all this stuff.  At least, that’s what people who like my sense of humor tell me.  They’re very vocal about it too, by rolling their eyes, crossing their arms, and really taking the time to stress all the words in a painfully long manner.  I thank them when they are done, and, while they tap their foot in excitement, I go into a litany of jokes from the Christian camp I used to go to when I was a young teen.  This always gets people worked up, so that they can’t even look at me anymore for fear of, I assume, being unable to control their laughter.]

This article was originally posted at

I’ve heard rumors of a magical land where everyone plays games. Here, housewives chit chat while playing Roll Through the Ages instead of watching ‘The View’. Teenagers loathe spending time on the phone, since it’s another minute of not playing Carcasonne (with all the expansions). Boring business lunches are replaced with riveting games of Endeaver. The bards refer to this land as ‘Germany’, and many squandered their lives trying to find this mythic country where paper money grows on trees and rivers run with meeples.

In this bizarro world of ‘Germany’, gamers experience no complication finding gamers with similar interests. If they wish to play a game, they merely open the shutters of their homes and call out the game’s name. Within minutes, a tournament of players appears; every fourth player bringing a copy of the game.

We do not live in Germany, we live in the real world. Here, gamers are impoverished children from Dickens’ novels. Wrapped in soot covered overcoats, tilting Dominion above their heads squeaking “Please, sir, I want to play this some more!”

Well, if you follow these 5 easy steps, you, yes you with the goatee, can have your very own Game Night, just like Hasbro wants you to! Excited? I sure am! Perhaps I should lay off the Red Bull! Hatcha!

A pack of Arcane Legions players manipulate armies at Myriad Games. Arcane Legions is a good start-up wargame (it’s cost is cheap, despite the number of miniatures involved) and shouldn’t be too hard to start a Game Night around.

Step one – Own a game.

See, I told you this wouldn’t be too hard. You already have step one complete! A quick look in your closet reveals Monopoly, Risk, Yahtzee and Trivial Pursuit. Oh.

Listen, no offense, but if you want to excite people into playing games with you, you want to own a game that requires explaining. Everyone knows how to play Stratego. They learned it when they were 14. It’s a fine game, in 1983, but most people have had ample time to play it, and played it as much as they need in their lifetimes. Probably more.

If you want people to play with you, you’re going to have to get something people haven’t played before. I know, I know, it’s tricky, since people want to play with what they’re familiar, but trust me: They may be more willing to play something they know well, but they won’t go out of their way to do it. What type of games should you get? Don’t worry, we’ll get back to this when we trash talk about your friends.

Step 2: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Location, Location, Location.

Some gamers don’t understand how frustrating it can be to run a seven person Dungeons and Dragons campaign with everyone huddled around a coffee table in the basement. Some so-called ‘gamers’ never spent thirty minutes setting up Axis & Allies, only to have the cat, Crazy Bojangles, descend upon the world like a vengeful god leaving no one to survive the Cataclysm except a single warrior in Australia. These so-called, ‘poofs’ read articles like this for sport, just to laugh at the second class citizens with cramped housing and no friends. Ignore them and they’ll go away.

For the rest of us, we’ll need creativity. Everyone begins by suggesting the library, so I’ll start there, but get out quick. Sure, plenty of libraries have separate rooms you can secure, but if you plan on playing Secret Silent Twister then you are a very creepy person.

If you’re lucky enough to be a student, getting space to play could be a non-issue. Many schools have plenty of empty rooms after class hours that can be confiscated. If campus security is harassing you, though, go legitimate and found a gaming club. This can be a major boon… not only will you attract more gamers, but you can get crazy perks like financial support for your hobbies, an office, the ability to advertise upcoming tournaments and babes, babes, babes! You heard me right, there will probably be at least three girls for ever twenty-five members.

Game Night at Myriad Games featuring Tobago. We may never know who the dashing individual explaining the rules is, but it is definitely not the author.

Alas, not all of us can be tools for Campus Life to push its pro-fun, anti-individuality agenda. A good third option would be to ask the owners of your Friendly Local Game Store if they have some space where you can get together with your friends and play. Not all game stores have space, but those that do are accommodating to patrons who do a fair amount of business with them. What?! You bought your games online because they were $5 cheaper that way? Are you trying to make this difficult on both of us? You don’t expect a local dealer to let you in and play games all the time unless you regularly buy things from him do you? I mean, there are places that let any jamokey in… but those stores don’t last much more than a year. I know. I owned one of those failed businesses.

Well, maybe there aren’t any local game stores with ample space where you live, and you aren’t destroying the tradition of brick and mortar game stores by undercutting local dealers and getting your games from faceless distributors. Fine. For the rest of you, I suggest taking advantage of Condo Rec Rooms. Do you know anyone who lives in a condo complex? Lots of people living in condos have access to a rec room and never use the things because their living room is good enough, thank you. Could it kill you to visit your Aunt in Sheboygan for 10 minutes a week? The awkwardness of drinking a cup of tea from an Elvis mug is worth the key to a heated room and a table. Mind the doilies.

Hold it! Where’s the other three steps? Did you even pay attention to the title of this article? It’s called Game Night, Part One. Part Two will join us soon, and when it does, there will be a nice little link right here. Congratulations if you have read this article before Part Two arrived, though. In the future, you can tell people that you knew the article Game Night before both parts were published; you know, before they went all commercial.

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2 thoughts on “Game Night, Part 1: Getting Your Game On!

  1. Pingback: Game Night – Take 2! « John-Michael Gariepy

  2. Pingback: Game Night, Part 3: The Quest for Vengeance « John-Michael Gariepy

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