Most of the time when I set out to play a board game, the setting is very specific: I usually want to play in the comfort of my own home or potentially a friend’s home. Not often do I veer from that preference, but sometimes I do feel like venturing out into the world and playing games in different locations. But what locations are fit for board games? For a while it felt like if it wasn’t in a house, it wasn’t going to happen, but recently I’ve been finding different locations cropping up out in the real world where board games aren’t just accepted, but encouraged. Here is a list of the 5 types of locations that are becoming “board game friendly”.
Back in college I remember discovering that one of my favorite pastimes was hanging out with my friends, having a few drinks, and playing board games. At 25 this preference hasn’t changed much- I find myself spending plenty of days with friends playing games with a few beers or glasses of wine. I’ve always considered this type of activity more relaxed than the active, lively crowds that I join when I go out to a bar.
Surprisingly enough, there are places across the country combining these two seemingly different activities. Suddenly there are bars out there that you can play board games in. Some of them you can bring your own, others rent them out to you for use while you drink and chat with friends. I know of a few in the Washington D.C. area near me (my favorite is a place called Board Room), but from a simple Google search you can find locations in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles that have the same theme.
Breweries fall into the same category- while they are usually more laid back than your average bar, the main purpose for going to a brewery is to have a few drinks and enjoy yourself with friends. Adding board games into the mix is slowly becoming more popular, with multiple breweries popping up with board game themes and outdoor areas being set up to play games that you bring with you. Breweries are taking advantage of the trend by inserting themselves into the gaming lifestyle- check out an interesting article about the phenomena by the Huffington Post.
While comic books, anime, and TV shows still control the lion’s share of the conventions out there, board games have been able to find a slice of the pie in many of the more popular “cons” scattered across the US. Gaming tournaments, booths, and prizes are staples of almost all conventions that you would go to, and conventions tailored specifically to board games are also becoming more prevalent. A list of board game cons can be found on Board Game Geek, highlighting some of the best places to check out new/developing games in the market.
Board Game Shops
Shops dedicated to selling board games have been around for a while. In fact, it might be that they are less common now than they were before the internet took some of the board game sales from the “mom and pop”-type shops. Still, most areas have at least one local gaming store, which can include anything from card games to miniatures to traditional board games as well. These game stores have to find ways to attract old and new customers, and board game nights/board game tournaments are a big pull for weeknights and weekends.
This new trend is the most fascinating to me- the Atlantic posted an article back in 2014 about How Board Games Conquered Cafes, and I tend to agree with them based on what I’ve seen. The focus of the article is a lot on families enjoying board games in coffee shops and cafes as a cheap way to get out of the house, enjoy some time with the kids, and play some games that everyone enjoys. That’s not the only option though, as the cafes are also great places for after-school activities of teens or a way to unwind for adults who spend their day sitting at a desk typing on a computer.
Based on what I’ve seen from personal experience, I can certainly verify that board games are making their way out into the world more often as time goes by. I always stress the social aspect of gaming, so seeing more and more location for playing board games crop up is very encouraging. That being said… I don’t expect game night at home to be going away any time soon.