Skip to main content

Game night

An imaginary conversation.

Sam, I notice that you always seem to have trouble getting musings out on Wednesday nights during the summer. Why is that?

I host game night on Wednesday nights.

Oh. What’s game night?

I invite the summer CS students [1] and a bunch of other students over to our house to play games almost every Wednesday night.

That’s interesting. Why do you host game night?

For a lot of reasons. It helps build community in the department. It gives me an excuse to straighten the house every Wednesday. I like playing games. It gives me an excuse to accumulate games. I like seeing my students. My children like playing games and seem to enjoy having me host game night. It gives students the opportunity to see me in a non-work situation. It ensures that there are at least a few hours each wee in which I don’t work. There are probably others that don’t come to mind at the moment.

What games to you play?

All sorts. I always want to play Yacht Race, but I could not convince anyone to play this year. We’ve played a lot of what I think of as social games: Bananagrams, Dixit, Codenames, The Great Dalmuti, Anomia, Hannabi, Chrononauts, We Didn’t Playtest This At All, and Loonacy [2]. We’ve also played more serious games, including the new version of Roborally, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Acquire, Catan [3], and others I forget. I think someone brought Dominion last week. There is also a group that regularly plays cards after the other games are done.

Why are you italicizing the game names?

They are similar to book or movie titles, which suggests to me that they should be italicized. I see that others who write about how to cite board games think the same way. Here’s one example. Here’s another [4].

How much of your time does game night take?

It usually takes an hour or two to prep - buying food, cutting the food, straightening the house, pulling out some games, and so on and so forth. I usually takes thirty minutes to an hour to clean up afterwards. We usually play from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. [5], so an estimate of 6 p.m. to midnight is probably accurate - six hours per week.

And at midnight?

By the time I’m done cleaning up, I’m usually ready to go to bed.

How much does game night cost to host?

Let’s see … I usually buy about six pounds of fruit, a pound or two of vegetables, three pounds of cheese, a few boxes of crackers, a few boxes of cookies, crackers, some iced tea, some lemonade, and maybe something else (e.g., soda, chocolate, gummy candy [6]). I’ll let you estimate.

Do you think it’s worth your time and money?

Yes. I like building community. I like playing games with folks. I don’t, however, like straightening up afterwards.

What percentage of the players are non-CS students?

It depends on the week. About 50% most weeks.

Will you continue to hold game night in the fall?


Why not?

Have you seen my fall schedule? I don’t have time. More importantly, my kids are unlikely to be able to attend, which eliminates one of the key values of game night.

How about next summer?

Almost certainly.

[1] And faculty.

[2] The played way too much Cards Against Humanity last summer. For whatever reason, they haven’t played it this summer.

[3] Or Settlers, if you prefer.

[4] I should probably pull out my Chicago Manual of Style, but it’s on my shelves at work.

[5] Okay, I play from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. My children tend to play until 11 p.m. or after.

[6] I consider gummy candy the unofficial snack food of Iowa. After all, they can be made with two of the primary food products of our state [7].

[7] Corn syrup, from corn and gelatin, from pig’s feet [8].

[8] I don’t know where gelatin really comes from these days. Perhaps a certain imponderable [9] author knows.

[9] imponderable is likely a trademark of that author.

Version 1.0 of 2017-08-02.