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Five ways to improve game night!

Posted by Jim {Power Gamer} | 20-Nov-13 | 12 comments

Guest Author: David,
Game nights are awesome. But as an avid gamer, I don’t feel it’s truly successful unless a game night is turned into more than a one-off event. I love it when friends get so much enjoyment from game night that it becomes one of their own hobbies and something they crave every month. What about you? Once you’ve scored your first game night success, how do you turn it into the thing to do for your new gamer friends?

Here’s five ways we’ve been able to keep new and old gamer friends coming back for more!

1) Stay Consistent

If you want to make game night a regular event, the best way is to be consistent. It’s simple really, just make it a point to keep having them.

Stick with the same time and same day of the week. If it’s consistent, your friends will have a period of time they can plan around to try to keep it open. It’s also a neat way to keep them looking forward to it when that time period comes along. The location doesn’t have to be as consistent. Spreading it around your friends’ houses is a great way to keep everyone involved and interested in game night.

It takes effort to keep it going, so make sure you keep it at a level you can handle. Game night doesn’t have to be every week. We have ours every other week. We find this lets enough time pass to keep everyone wanting more of it, but not too often that they take it for granted. Once a month could work too. If you game with distant family, even a yearly tradition can work, such as ending every Thanksgiving with a game night.

One more thing to consider when making game night consistent. At times people will cancel on you. Even if some of your closest game buddies do, if you have enough people, go ahead and keep with your planned game night. A true game night tradition will survive even after its founder can’t make it. By keeping it going when some of your most active participants occasionally can’t make it, you’ll institutionalize it.

Game nights forever!

2) Try new games

If your game nights are getting a little stale, you can always introduce some excitement and energy by bringing a new game. It’s within our nature to want the latest and greatest product, to explore the unknown and discover new ways of gaming fun. Buying new games is a great way to play into that and keep the game nights fresh.

You can even experiment with new themes, new mechanics or different types of games.

3) Try themed nights

Themed nights are a great way to add some more zest into your game night, without having to buy any new games. Have your friends dress up in the style or theme of the games you’ll be playing. Too weird? Then just have themed snack nights.

You can paste that wonderful Star Wars or Star Trek theme all over your cupcakes and cookies. Or you can just go for unrelated themes. We’ve had success with ice-cream bars and a make your own personal pizza night.

4) Invite new victims

Mmmmm … fresh blood! Remember how your first game night went? The joy in your friends’ faces as they discovered the new hobby? You can keep that going by inviting new people to your game nights. This is a great way to spread the hobby, but also bring some new life to the group. Being open to invites will help maintain your consistency as well, just in case some of your friends move away, move on, or can’t make it for some reason.

So keep the first game night experience alive, invite more gaming friends!

5) Add a trophy

This last one is something of a tradition for our group. Every year we make a new trophy for our group. The trophy goes to the winner of the game that had the most number of players or sometimes the player that pulled off something extraordinarily cool. They keep it for two weeks until they pass it on to the next winner.

It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular. In Wil Wheaton’s TableTop YouTube series, it’s a cheap school certificate. Our first one was a glued together game miniature of the Enterprise from Star Trek Fleet Captains. Sadly it was destroyed, but the tradition lived on. Now we have a bowling ball trophy converted into the Death Star. It’s a neat little way to add some excitement and something your gaming group will look forward to winning. We all know people are in desperate need of geek cred.

So there you go! Five ways to keep your game group coming back for more game nights.

Tell us what you think of them or share some of your own tips. We’d love to hear what you do to keep your victims coming back for more gaming punishment!

About the Author

Game nights are awesome. I am a co-founder of Game Night Gurus. Our mission is to encourage as many people as possible to start their own games nights. We have posts specifically geared to starting and hosting game nights and would love you get your feedback and thoughts. We also have a short easy survey you can point your new gaming friends to as a way to help them figure out what games they should buy to start out in the hobby.

Visit Game Night Curus >

Comments (12)

Gamer Avatar
Smash Up Fan

Thank you for all these tips. Really nice to share your views and experience.

Gamer Avatar
I play red
Stone of the Sun

There has been many great reads on here lately. My wife usually makes cookies whenever we scrounge up a game night. Whenever we mention cookies people want to come by and play.

Gamer Avatar

@Remy Hope your game night goes well; it’s great to see it inspired someone to start!

@coltsfan76 Yes point number 2 can be tricky if not in balance. Our group actually agreed to slow down purchases of new games for awhile so games could be played more often and strategies discovered. Now we are at the point where some new games are needed to bring some more variety.

@Martin The ribbon idea is neat! So many times, when you’re not playing to win or have no chance of winning, the game experience revolves around doing some amazing combo or fun move. It would be neat to reward some creative play like that. I need to look into doing something similar.

Gamer Avatar
Rosetta Stone
Football Fan
Explorer - Level 5

Very nice. At the moment, our Gaming Group consists of 5 regular and 4 semi-regular friends. We always game at one guy’s house, because he has a kid and wouldn’t be able to game anywhere else. For now, adding new people and staying consistent are at their limits.

But I like the other ideas, including theme nights. We often just get together and play whatever anyone feels strongly enough about playing, so we could improve with a theme in advance.

Gamer Avatar
Movie Lover
Comic Book Fan

I like the trophy idea, as they do on the awesome Wil Wheaton’s TableTop show.

I think background music enhances the mood too. Mostly quiet or atmospheric music. Being a movie/TV soundtrack collector, I also like to complement some games (like Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures or LCG, Age of Conan, Battlestar Galactica, Middle-Earth Quest or War of the Ring, Marvel Heroes or Legendary, DC Comics DBG, Star Trek DBG, Firefly) with their matching musical soundscape.

Gamer Avatar
I play purple
Explorer - Level 6
Cryptozoic Entertainment fan

I have an idea to give out ribbons each game event for different categories, like winner of most games, for most creative move that night, for funniest game comment, etc. And they get to keep these ribbons.

Gamer Avatar
Miniature Painter
Intermediate Reviewer
Master Grader

Ok, this has inspired me to put together a new gaming group (moved and never got around to it). Thanks!! 🙂

Gamer Avatar
Z-Man Games fan
Bandai fan

New games are awesome, but don’t forget your core games. You can theme your nights around the core games. Also small games to break up the big ones is something we do too.

Gamer Avatar
Amateur Reviewer

I like the idea of a trophy. I REALLY like the idea of a massive city wide league with updated points each week and ranking based on games and genre, and a yearly champion based on a composite score…….maybe I should look into that

Gamer Avatar
Cryptozoic Entertainment fan
AEG fan

I host one every week at my place and I make sure that we mix up the games we play every week. I’m expecting two more new games added this week to keep things interesting.

Gamer Avatar

I need to get us a trophy.

Gamer Avatar
I play blue
Football Fan
Advanced Reviewer

We pretty much do this and it works well. About the only point I would argue is #2. We tend to have so many new games that we rarely have consistency and so never see deep strategies evolve.

Point #5 we haven’t consistently done but do have yearly awards in our group.

Theme nights are huge and we usually try to have one once a month or so. Helps get us to focus and have a generally good time with it.

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