I want to talk about sitcoms for just a second, but it leads back to board games so stick with me.
If you go back and look at any major sitcom, there’s always a communal space out in public that the characters meet at so that they aren’t either at work or at home. Friends had Central Perk. Frasier had Café Nervosa. Cheers had a bar, I think.
They have these because sitcoms are meant, generally, to make you feel welcome, happy, and part of this group of fun. It’s nice to recognize them every week, to feel the familiarity. That’s why in real life we like to have places where we are regulars as well. You want to get out of your house, but still feel at home.
With that in mind, and with no hyperbole whatsoever, board game cafes are the single best public community space in the world today.
Let me count the ways.
How do you make new friends after you’re out of school? Talk to a stranger at the grocery store? Insert yourself into a group at a local bar? You absolutely can do that, but it is HARD and takes a lot of social courage. Game Café’s build in a structure to make friends – playing a game. Join a tournament, an open table night, etc. and you get to start talking to people about a shared interest immediately.
Go to a movie, and you sit quietly for two hours. Go to a restaurant and you have to navigate that awkward, nervous first date small talk. Go to a board game café, though… well you play a game. That’s the conversation piece. It’s something to talk about other than “what did you go to school for/what’s your job”. Cuts down the pressure for everyone. Win-win.
Want to see someone in a new light? Put them in a new situation! Play a game about negotiation, tactics, reflexes. There are more games types, themes, and experiences than you’ll need for a lifetime of date nights, and each one can illuminate a new facet of your loved ones..
This one... well it's kind of obvious, right?
Much like a first date, talking to a coworker (outside of the office) can be an awkward stretch of social landmines. Put them in front of a game board, and you are suddenly on an adventure with them that doesn’t involve TPS reports OR stories about their cat.
I could go on, and I will in another post in the future. The board game café is a relatively new site in most towns and cities, but expect to see more of them. As people realize that being with each other in person is the best way to socialize, and as they want to do so without being in a loud, crowded bar, or in a house that they need to clean up before and after each get together, you’ll find them coming again and again to their local board game café. And they’ll always be welcome.