Whenever I meet a family that doesn’t play many (or any) board games, I ask the parents why. Sometimes the response is about the cost of games. Sometimes parents struggle to prize the kids off their phones. Sometimes it’s that board games cause arguments and they want to avoid that. But more often than not it’s simply…. time. 

In most houses, time is the biggest barrier to playing board games as a family. Everyone is busy. There are huge numbers of commitments – work, school, study, clubs & activities, chores… and the list goes on. It’s hard to claim time to spend together as a family. 

The perception of many is that you need to clear a big window to sit down and play a board game. And, of course, for some games, that’s true! 

In the last few months everyone’s perception of time has changed. Some people feel as if they’ve had more time than normal – no commutes, no school run, no football… While others feel as if they’ve had less time than normal – homeschooling while working from home, extra cooking, extra cleaning… However slowly or quickly time has moved for you so far in 2020, we can be sure that at some point things will gradually return to normal. 

So what steps can you take now and in the future to make time to play games together?

  1. Clear one hour each week. You don’t need to commit loads of time for board gaming to become a regular family activity. Aim to play one game per week as a family. Look at your calendar and find just one hour in the week that you’re able to dedicate to playing games. If diaries are busy, just find a time that most of you can make. It is better to play one person down than not to play at all. Give this hour the importance it deserves and make sure everyone knows it is happening in advance.  As the family gets hooked on tabletop gaming the amount of time each person will choose to spend playing will increase. You’ll be surprised how much extra time everyone can find when it is something that they all really want to be involved in.


  2. Embrace the filler.  Sneak games into your daily life, by using fillers. Fillers are short and usually light games that can be used to plug dead holes in your day, when you might otherwise be hanging around. The great thing about a good filler is that it provides a complete and fun game experience with very little commitment needed from the players. If you struggle to get your children to spend more than 20 minutes with you – and then only when they are shovelling food into their mouths – then grab some simple fillers that can be played while you eat.
    The Dark Imp Coaster Games are perfect fillers. Also – here are three recommended filler card games.


  3. Combine game time with visits from friends or family. A visit from family or friends shouldn’t prevent game time from happening; in fact, it should enhance it. You can even keep the identity of the guest hidden from the family to add to the anticipation. Hopefully there won’t be too much disappointment when Auntie Susie turns up and they were expecting a minor celebrity to join them. Hosting a visiting gamer or two also changes the dynamic around the table. The family is likely to be better behaved (providing your guests are well-behaved themselves!) If your special guests have favourite games of their own, you can arrange for them to lead a new game. Being a learner alongside your children is a good way of levelling the status at the table.`


  4. Occupy the enthusiastic gamer. After successfully introducing game nights to your family and sparking an interest in, and love of, board games, you may find that there comes a time when your children want to play more games than you do. Don’t panic. There are alternatives to sending them back to their games consoles so that you can have a break (or get on with everything else that needs doing). An obvious solution is to encourage subsets of the family to play games without you there and sometimes this works marvellously. But if your presence is required to keep them from killing each other or if the wrong game is chosen, you might end up having to get involved so that no blood is shed. Sometimes just one person wants to play, so arm yourself with ideas to occupy the lone board gamer.
    Here are 7 ways to occupy the enthusiastic gamer.

So get creative about how you increase game playing in your family. There’s always time to squeeze in a quick game. Sleuth Box, one of our set of six Coaster Games, plays in around five minutes!