THE GAMER’S BOOKSHELF:
HOW TO HOST A GAME NIGHT
by Erik Arneson
(Tiller Press, softcover, 171 pages, $15.99)
Games are an interactive medium. Most of the time, to get those cherished games off the shelf and onto the gaming table, you need someone to play them with you! So having folks over to play them sounds obvious but… hosting a Game Night is demanding in ways that someone who has never done it would, I suspect, find surprising. How to avoid pitfalls, how to maneuver the “mine field” of potential problems, how to set yourself up for success are challenges that Erik Arneson, a recognized games expert, has taken up in his new book: How to Host a Game Night.
Starting with the opening chapter explaining why now is a great time to be a gamer, Arneson dives right into the “ground rules” for a successful Game Night. (My favorite part of that chapter is stating the obvious: know the rules to a game you plan to play! I can commiserate with those sitting around the table when the “game leader” opens the rule book and has no idea what comes next! Been there – and it’s not pretty!)
From there, Arneson discusses the parameters, pleasure and perils of gaming sessions with the number of players ranging from a handful to large groups as well as Game Days and even Game Weekends! You will encounter some easily recognizable types such as the player who likes to dominate play and the “funny” guy who isn’t funny.
Game Night dynamics are examined. References to professional studies support the inherent value of games and gaming. (It’s always good to have your own suspicions scientifically confirmed). Anecdotes from fellow gamers across the world help to illustrate the do’s and don’ts including who to invite, where to hold sessions, what food is acceptable and more.
While hosting a Game Night is the main focus of the book, the underlining – and indisputable – theme of the book is the tremendous impact that games and gaming have had on so many lives, whether it’s indelible memories of playing with members of the family, meeting a future spouse over a game or developing long and lasting friendships that began over the gaming table. Another useful part of the book is listings of games – with mini-reviews in some cases – suitable for certain numbers of players. This is reminiscent of similar sections in Sid Sackson’s classic book, A Gamut of Games. Such listings (and the reviews accompanying them) are very useful for readers. There should be more of them in the book!
If the “… for Dummies” series of books needs something to cover Game Nights, all they need do is slap their logo on the cover of this one! Erik Arneson knows what he’s talking about and his light, breezy, style makes this book a fast and absorbing read. Bottom line: If the idea of having a bunch of friends come together to play games or forging new friendships over the gaming table intrigues you, then How to Host a Game Night is the “how to” book for you! – – – – – – – Herb Levy
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