Play Modern Board Games in Public!!!

Seize Your TurnTM has recently launched the PiP (Play in Public) Campaign in an attempt to increase awareness of modern boardgaming in the American culture.  For an introduction, I’ll just use a quote directly from the announcement blog:  

In Australia, 1 in 7 people played a board game in the past week and in Germany it is higher.  In China, board game cafes are exploding.  What is happening in the United States that is keeping us from breaking open this community?  Maybe we’ve become anti-social, lazy, or simply too addicted to our television.  Whatever the reason, this is an American problem…

So, how do we spark this viral sharing of adult board gaming?  Let’s just expose people to what is out there!  We have the power to do something about this ourselves…  that is the essence of the campaign.  Let’s have the courage to play in an environment where people can see a game, safely ask questions, and go on their way.  Let’s slowly raise the curiosity of the non-gaming community.  At first it is about breaking down the stereotype of gaming, but eventually it will raise people’s desire to try it themselves.  If enough people participate in this campaign, we can successfully expose a large portion of the general public to games they previously didn’t know existed.

So, basically, the PiP Campaign is all about playing boardgames in public.  Instead of keeping it all cooped up in our homes or the back of game stores, let’s get out there in the public eye and let people know what boardgaming really has to offer these days!  Be open and friendly and willing to explain a little about the game you’re playing and how awesome this hobby really is.  

Personally, the purpose of this campaign really resonates with me.  Finding places and opportunities to play may be a bit difficult or uncomfortable at times, but I really want to make a commitment to giving it a try.  I’m going to be making some suggestions to my game group about it, and I hope that more of you out there will do the same.  

Join the PiP Campaign Facebook Fan Page and use the #PiPCampaign hashtag on Twitter to share your efforts to share games in public.  And if you need more encouragement, participating in the campaign and posting or linking to your reports will enter you into a giveaway contest sponsored by Out of the Box Games!

So, pick a pretty game, play it in public, and be willing to share your love of games and gaming!  Join the campaign and help us work toward changing the reputation of boardgames in our culture!

I plan on making Pandemic one of my first “played in public” games! 





  1. Chris, I think this is a solid idea and would be glad to participate. I posted a (slightly rambling) reply to your post on BoardGameGeek about this, but let me collapse that post to its truest form here:

    What games would be good for this purpose?

  2. tomg

    I like the idea and will participate if able. What is it you suggest? And ditto to Kenny’s question.
    I suggest games that can be bought at B&N, which has added some good ones recently.

  3. Chris Norwood

    Kevin at Seize Your Turn has actually backed off a little on which games he wants people to play.  So as of now, the only real suggestion is a “non-traditional” game “most likely not sold at ToysRUs”.

    But there are definitely some things that I think we should consider:

    1) Eye appeal – it needs to look pretty and be interesting enough aesthetically to make people take a second glance and maybe want to check out what we’re doing

    2) Size –  Generally, tables at B&N and even restaurants are pretty small compared to gaming tables. 

    3) Depth/Length – If someone is really interested in the game, we should be able to explain it quickly and maybe even bring them in to it or restart the game to include them.  And since they weren’t planning on playing a game at the time, it shouldn’t go on forever.

    Wow, I just looked back over the first three criteria, and they could also apply to something quite dirty.  But anyway…

    4) Availability – If we’re going to be introducing people to modern boardgames, then the games we show them should be at least somewhat available for them to pick up themselves.  Of course, we can always direct them to Hypermind (or, but we need to pay attention to things that are still in print and available, and the easier it is for them to get it in their hands, the more chance that they may become a “convert”.  Unfortunately (as I said on the guild), the Burlington B&N still has a pretty woeful game section, with nothing more exotic than Settlers or Carcassonne.  They don’t even have Forbidden Island, even though they usually carry Gamewright games.

    5) “Good” games – If I do this, I only want to be showing off games that I really like; both so that I can be excited about them, and because I want to show off how cool these modern games really are. 

    Some initial thoughts that I’ve had for possible games include:

    • Pandemic
    • Forbidden Island
    • Dixit
    • Dominion
    • Settlers of Catan
    • Tobago (even though space could be a problem)
    • Traders of Carthage
    • 10 Days in… (any of the series)
    • Tier auf Tier
    • Kingdoms
    • Blue Moon City
    • Cartagena
    • Notre Dame (again, space may be tight)
    • Metropolys
    • Patrician
    • Small World (?)
    • Through the Desert

    Do you get where I’m coming from?  Any other ideas for good games?

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  5. I totally agree on your criteria, Chris. And most of the games on your list (at least of the one’s I’ve played) seem like they fit. I do wonder about some of them that have a larger ‘fiddlyness’ factor than others that might be a negative in the public setting. Anyway, some other ones that occur to me that fit the above criteria:

    -Roll through the Ages (with mandatory box-lid rolling, obviously)
    -Citadels (surprised you didn’t list this one)
    -Hive (2-player only, which is a problem, but fast and about as bulletproof as a game can be physically)
    -Castle Panic (light, utterly easy to teach, having trouble remembering how fiddly it is though)
    -what’s that gem auction game Adam has?
    -No Thanks!

    Now, having said that, the problem from the visibilty standpoint, of primarily- or entirely-card based games like Dominion and Citadels, are that I think they might go too far under the radar – people will just figure it’s Magic or Yugioh or whatever. Now maybe that’s good, in that it might get people who play those games to come over and see ‘hey, this is something different’ but it’s probably not going to draw much fresh blood.

    Not sure. Still thinking this stuff out.

  6. Oh! Taluva! I never remember the name of that one (you need to bring it back because I have probably not played it in something like a year if not longer).

  7. Chris Norwood

    Taluva would be perfect!  (and I really need to play it again soon!!!)

    But the reason I didn’t include Citadels or No Thanks! in my original list is because, while they are both really great games, they don’t really have that “Wow!” factor visually.  If the main point was to teach these people to play a few games, then they’d be perfect.  But since the main focus is on raising visibility and maybe starting a brief conversation about modern boardgames (with the slight possibility of telling about/teaching the game), then they don’t necessarily stand out enough (IMHO).

    Dominion was included because, while it’s still a card game, you still have these 16 or so piles of colorfully illustrated cards sitting around the table.  It still rides the line a bit, but it’s more “non-traditional” and might would pique people’s curiosity even more.

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