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What Is a Board Game Cafe

By Raelle Richard

Above all else, a board game café is meant to be a fun social place for people to hang out, play board games, and enjoy good food. Following the growth in popularity of board games in recent years, board game cafes are popping up all around the country.  Board game cafes are a way to get out from behind the computer or tv and interact face-to-face with family and friends in a more personal and meaningful way. They are an inexpensive option to the ever-rising costs of movie tickets or even a night of bowling. So what exactly is a board game cafe?

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A Couple Enjoying a Date Night at the Cafe

During the week of Thanksgiving in my junior year of college, my Intro to Game Design professor announced that we would be having class the day before Thanksgiving, but it would be a bit different. Instead of meeting in our usual classroom setting, anyone who hadn’t already traveled home for the weekend would journey down to the cool new gaming café just a block down from the university’s library. Of course, I was one of those who would already be on a train home, but I heard from my classmates what a fun and unique experience they’d had and gathered up my own group of nerdy friends for a trip to New York City’s The Uncommons.

This was my first experience with a board game café and it certainly wouldn’t be my last. In fact, it was those many days spent in that cramped, little café in Greenwich Village that inspired me to approach Tom about a job when I saw that The Game Table Café was opening up in little old Mechanicsburg.

So, what is a board game café? Each café varies in how things are done, but essentially, when you break it down to its most basic parts, a board game café is a regular café with a great menu of food and coffee that also contains a library of board games available for customers to play. In addition to coffee and espresso drinks, some cafes will serve food, snacks, or even alcohol. And nearly every café charges some form of cover to play games. Most, like us, take the flat fee approach, charging a fee that allows you to stay all day and play as many games as you like while others will charge per hour or per game. Unlike cafes such as Starbucks that make their money by getting people out of the door as quickly as possible, we want you to stay and have fun.

The Game Table Cafe in Action
The Game Table Cafe in Action

Board games are more popular now than they’ve ever been which means that more and more games are being made with plenty of smart and unique concepts. Beyond the classics of Monopoly, Apples to Apples, and Sorry; there are a host of new titles coming out each year.  Most cafes only have a few hundred games available on their shelves, but there are thousands of them out there.

If the word “thousands” makes your head spin then you aren’t alone. We have a lot of regular gamers who are familiar with most games in our library, but more frequently we get customers who come in and stare wide-eyed at our wall of games and say, “I had no idea any of these games even existed.” They know Monopoly and Life, but, for the most part, two-thirds of our library is foreign territory for them. If this sounds like you, fear not! Board game cafes employ “game gurus” who are more than happy to pick a game for you based on your past gaming experiences and teach it to you. You can learn a new game without even opening the rule book.

Family Learning a New Game

The Game Table Cafe strives to help everyone connect.  We have a great selection of food, coffee and baked goods just waiting for you to enjoy.  Our game library is just over 400 games and we are here to help you find just the right game and perhaps connect with a new or old friend.  Watch our Calendar of Events for special events going on each week.  With thousands of games to choose from, there is a game for everyone and a board game café is a great place to find a good game, connect with a friend and enjoy great food and coffee. It doesn’t matter if gaming is one of your great passions or simply a casual hobby; everyone can enjoy an evening with friends or family at a board game café!

Come to Our New Year Gala
Come to Our New Year Gala