Starting a Family Game Night: GenCon Trade Day Report – Part 2

A few weeks ago I attended the GenCon Trade Day, a workshop for teachers focusing on the educational use of tabletop games. One of the  sessions  I attended was hosted by staff members from the Indianapolis Public Library on how to start a family game night. This can be a great event to build community at a parish or Catholic school — here are some of the tips I got from the presentation:

  • There are four basic types of games you can offer: card games, board games, role-playing games, and  video games.
  • Don’t offer regular playing cards — the risk of poker and other gambling games is too great. Get cheap “Crazy 8” or “Old Maid” decks instead. Uno is also very popular.
  • Cheap board games can be found at second hand stores.
  • If you offer role-playing games, advertise for game masters in advance.
  • If parents have religious questions about role-playing games, recommend the FAQ from the Christian Gamers’ Guild.
  • If you offer video games, be sure to review them for content ahead of time. Don’t offer games rated M!
  • If you have electronic games, keep extra batteries on hand.
  • Makes sure someone at the event has at least a working knowledge of the rules of each of the games you offer so that you can answer questions that will arise.
  • Post rules. The most important: whoever is in charge has the final say on rules disputes!
  • Get help from local gaming stories. See if they would be willing to demo a game or offer prizes.
  • Contact game companies and see if they will send playtest versions or door-prizes.
  • Ask families to bring or donate games.
  • Package and label your games carefully, including a list of all the pieces.
  • Have options for all ages.
  • Offer snacks!
  • Market your event through flyers, newsletters, and social media.
  • Remember: it’s about having fun and building community!