Introduction to Party Games
Board gaming is an activity that can fulfill our need for social interaction…
Games can offer us an entertaining way to connect with family, friends or co-workers. Thankfully, there are a whole host of game titles designed to facilitate almost any group size, from 1-2 players all the way to 20 or more. So, if you’re planning a gathering or an outing with a largegroup of friends, you can rest assured there are a lot of great games available to make your time together exciting and memorable.
In board gaming parlance, games that accommodate a large number of players are frequently called ‘Party Games’. Choosing the right party game for a gathering of diverse personalities can be tricky. If you get it right, your choice of game can keep everyone entertained and interacting. Get it wrong, and the evening may devolve into bored yawns and people glancing at their watches wondering when it be might socially acceptable to leave. Hopefully, I can help you to find just the right game to make your next get-together a resounding success.
So, what defines a good party game?
The most important aspect is the number of players who can play. As a general rule, party games are designed to cater to groups of 6 or more people. Some games can handle up to 12 players. In many games, it’s even possible to increase that number by playing in teams. However, there is such a thing as too many people. In my experience, a game with more than 15 people playing at once can be a challenge; the more people around a gaming table, the more difficult it is to a.) see what’s happening on the board at the center of the table and b.) to interact with players on the periphery. So, if you are hosting an event with 20-30 people, you might be better off dividing them into groups and having them play two separate games.
Another aspect is rule complexity. The majority of party games are based on a very simple set of rules that can be explained easily and learned quickly. More often than not, the rule book will be a single page. Any more than that and the group will begin to lose interest and divert their attention elsewhere. This is where board gaming meets crowd control. Choose a game that is easy to understand. Especially if your group contains 8 or more people.
When it comes to keeping the attention of a large group, the next aspect you might want to consider is the length of gameplay. Most successful party games are relatively short. The bulk of them will last about 20 minutes. “Well”, you might say, “that will be a disappointingly short gaming party”. Not necessarily. In my experience, groups playing a short but exciting game are more likely to want to play it over and over again. All the more if the game requires a designated individual to lead, guess or give clues each round as everyone will want a chance to be the person of interest.
Speaking of putting people on the spot, I would like to share my personal strategy for drawing people into a new game: If it’s a game that requires a single individual to take the hot seat, I choose someone who I feel might be socially comfortable to take that role as the first player. I often try to get a sense for the right candidate while I am explaining the game. Sometimes I might even choose myself as the first player to get the ball rolling and to lower the group’s anxiety level by demonstrating how easy a turn can be. There’s always a someone who will state that they would rather ‘just watch’. Be comfortable with that. In almost all cases, those individuals will join in once they have watched a round being played and realize that it is neither scary nor complicated.
As the person hosting or organizing the party, it’s wise to consider your audience. One of the more successful party games of recent history is ‘Cards Against Humanity.’ The goal of this game is to create situational humour using shocking or offensive language. There are plenty of games on the market that have followed this trend. These types of games can be appropriate and fun with the right crowd but have the potential make some people rather uncomfortable. The same goes for games that rely heavily on puzzle solving or conversational skill. These can be a big hit with people who enjoy these kinds of mental exercises but may be disappointing for those looking for some light entertainment and laughs.
In my opinion, a good party game can make any group gathering an engaging and fun experience. So, the next time your group of friends are trying to decide what to do together, why not suggest a board game?
I’m often asked for group game recommendations. Here are my favourites:
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