Hosting the Perfect College Game Night

Hosting the Perfect College Game Night

Is it me or is game night a quintessential college thing? Like ultimate frisbee, all-nighters, and questionable combinations of food, it just fits. So I was super-lucky to team up with Spin Master to host a game night, and I’m here to pass all the lessons I learned on to you.

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My friends and I are always talking about heading to the next town over to try out the escape room there. But coordinating road trips is hard and we’re a lot more fond of piling onto my couch. Luckily, Escape Room: The Game, exists, and it plays just fine from the comfort of my living room. Oh, and it does something cool: instead of blatantly competing with my friends, I got to spend game night working with them to win the game. Talk about a welcome escape.

Get Prepared

I always get vaguely stressed when I’m hosting even my closest friends, so I find that having a game plan is about the best thing you can do. Planning in college is next to impossible, but do what you can to know how many people you’ll have and when they’re arriving. It’s hard to make a 4-6 person game work with only 3 people, and likewise it’s hard to accommodate 15. Know what you’re getting into and prepare!

Snacks and Drinks

Obviously, tailor these to your audience’s taste, but no party is complete without them. A word of advice, though – and this is from experience: Pick clean snacks. Anything that leaves behind grease or cheese or other flavor is going to make your game pieces or cards a mess. Also, people tend to lick their fingers “clean” and then everything gets gross. Stick with low-mess snacks like cheese and crackers or trail mix, and keep napkins handy.

Friends

I mean. You could host a game night by yourself. And if you do, I respect your independence. But come on, you know that it’s a lot more fun when you get to beat your friends. “Pick fun people” is lame advice, but really – we’ve all got that one friend who’s too cool to actually do anything interesting for fear of looking silly. Leave that person at home, we don’t have room for their negativity. Also, I find it’s kind of nice to limit phone usage, especially for more intense games. Granted, in my choice, some of those phone tools can be useful. But otherwise, stay focused!

Timing

A lot of games have really unpredictable timing, so choose wisely. Think about how long your games of choice can or will take. If they’re open-ended, they’re perfect for nights when your friends will be drifting in and out. If they tend to last for hours, make sure your fellow players are in it for the long haul. I was lucky in that Escape Room: The Game has a strict 60 minute time limit – if you don’t make it out before time runs out, you lose. This gave me a pretty good idea of the time commitment we were looking at. Still, you might not want to play just one room, so make sure you choose a day or night when your friends have plenty of time.

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The Actual Games

If you invite your friends over for game night and then don’t have any games, everyone is going to be confused and disappointed. So it’s in your best interest to provide some.

Choosing Games

I’ll be honest, unless you plan a game night around one game in particular (which is what I did), it might be in your interest to have a few options ready. I favor a mix of classic and new games, just for variety, but do you. Oh, and you know how certain games have a reputation for destroying friendships? Play those ones at your own risk – there’s nothing like a friend sabotaging your strategy to get an argument going.

Escape Room: The Game

Lucky for me, Escape Room: The Game is collaborative. Okay, so there was some initial disagreement over which room to play (Prison Break was the big winner), and we didn’t always agree on strategies for our escape, but we were all working towards the same goal. I also love that the game didn’t rely on the roll of a dice or draw of a random card for success. Luck makes games unpredictable, but it frustrates me – Escape Room lets you run on pure strategy and logic, and in a room full of people, that was really refreshing.

I’d love to tell you about the breakthroughs we made, but I’m wary of spoilers. Just… A few hints, I guess: Keep your eyes on the details, write down everything that pops into your mind, since it might be relevant later, and talk over your ideas with your friends. There’s nothing like a fresh perspective to make you realize what you’re missing.

If you’re interested in picking up a copy of Escape Room: The Game for yourself, you can find it here. If you have board-game loving friends or family members, it would probably be a pretty great gift this holiday season. I know I’m looking forward to playing one of the remaining rooms with my family once I’m through with finals.

PSA these keys don't actually unlock anything (probably), I chose them at random.

PSA these keys don’t actually unlock anything (probably), I chose them at random.

Now Comes the Fun Part

No matter what you’re playing, game nights are a great way to stay close with old friends, get closer to new ones, and connect to people in a way you wouldn’t in class or at a party. And maybe I’m just competitive, but holding the winning card or figuring out a clue before my friends is really, really satisfying to me. I’m always happy to chase that feeling.

So as the semester winds down, maybe as a last-week-of-classes respite or an end-of-finals hurrah, consider hosting a game night with your friends. Choose some old favorites, some new classics, and consider giving Escape Room: The Game a shot, if you think your friends would like it (mine did!) If you do host a game night, let me know what you played in the comments!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.