Tis the season for family visits. With Thanksgiving this weekend and Christmas fast approaching, you are frantically trying to get things organized. This year you are hosting and your in-laws are arriving tonight! Grab some games and liven things up a bit.
You start by perusing your game shelves. You may be very tempted to pull out your new copy of Firefly or Nothing Personal, two games you have been itching to play. Then it dawns on you that, while your in-laws are open to trying new things, they have had very little gaming experience. Most of their game play has been limited to the traditional games of your childhood. The sum of their gaming experience consists of many games of chess, rummy, monopoly and the occasional game of Settlers of Catan. You envision their eyes glazing over as you try desperately to explain the complexities of Malcolm Reynolds and his crew. No, you need to find something you can all enjoy.
Choosing the right game is a very important task, particularly when you are playing with a group that isn't experienced, or has had a poor gaming experience in the past. Those poor experiences can be very tricky to overcome.
So how do you ensure that this does not happen?
First, choose games that will provide a fun, light experience, and that suit the personalities of the group. If your family and friends find the experience enjoyable, they will be far more likely to want to play again the next time. If you know that your in-laws prefer mental challenges (you always see them completing the crossword or Sudoku puzzle in the paper), then consider games that stimulate thought like Carcassonne or Ticket to Ride. If they love word puzzles, try Quiddler, Kerflip!, or Word on the Street. And If they enjoy a more lighthearted type of game with lots of interaction and laughter consider party games such as Time's Up, Cover Your A$$ets, The Princess Bride: Prepare to Die, or (for those families with a more twisted sense of humor) Cards Against Humanity.
Second, look for games with simple, easy to follow rules that still challenge and offer interesting choices and strategies. This will allow experienced gamers to feel challenged without overwhelming those with less experience.
Third, choose a forgiving game. One that will allow a few mistakes without costing a new player the game. This will help ensure that the experience is enjoyable. Nothing is worse than losing a game due to a simple mistake that happened at the beginning of the game. Especially when it is your first time playing.
And finally, Start Slow. Only introduce one or two new games at your gathering. By mixing them with games they know and love, you will help ease them into the new game. Start with a game they love, get them laughing, then introduce the new game.
Even when you make an effort to choose games that fit your group, you may still run into objections. Some people simply want to stick to tradition. So when all else fails, grab that copy of Monopoly or Yahtzee. You'll still be playing a game and at least it's themed out with Star Wars or Dr. Who, right??