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Board game lounges rise in popularity

“Two, fictional.”

“One, pyramids.”

“Three, shapes.”

If you’ve ever played the game Codenames, you know exactly what I’m talking about. 

If you haven’t ever played the game Codenames, well … let me apologize for the gibberish.

This little corner of the newspaper has sometimes – perhaps too frequently – been a place where I have bemoaned my lack of hobbies. The fun thing about being a community journalist is that you get to take a peek into the passions and hobbies of all kinds of people, and their interests run the gamut – from cooking to magic to historical portrayals, just to name a few recent stories I’ve worked on. Getting an insider’s look at others’ hobbies can, however, make your own activities seem a little bland by comparison.

There is one thing, though, that I think I can point to as a particular passion.

Board games are a continual interest for me. I don’t know if I play often enough to call them a hobby, but they are definitely a consistent source of joy and fun. 

As kids my brother and I played plenty of games with our mother. I guess she instilled in me the love for such entertainment. From Hi Ho! Cherry-O and Candyland to Don’t Wake Daddy and Chutes and Ladders, as well as junior versions of the classics like Scrabble, Monopoly and Clue, we spent hours flexing our board game muscles and developing our skill and enjoyment for these types of games.

As an adult I have discovered other categories of board games, like Euro games and more collaborative or cooperative options. Have you ever played Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan or Carcassone? If you love board games, I think you definitely should.

At any rate, this brings us to the subject at hand: board gaming lounges.

Just off Rideau Street in Ottawa, Ontario in Canada, there is a tan stone building with a sign out front: The Loft Board Game Lounge. Climb the stairs to the second floor, and you’ll find a room full of tables and chairs backdropped by a wall of shelves simply packed with board games.

That might not pique the interest of everyone, but for me, it was a magical place. For $6 apiece, board gamers and their friends can hold down a table and play as many of The Loft’s games as they want. 

It’s where I first played Codenames last week.

The good news is, you don’t have to go all the way to Canada to visit a board game lounge. This kind of business model is gaining in popularity everywhere, so you don’t have to look too far – although, admittedly, you’ll have to look a little farther than the borders of Franklin County – to find a place to order some appetizers or, like I did in Ottawa, a plate of churros, and spread out for an hour or two of Mysterium, 7 Wonders or the Game of Life. 

Here’s my question. Why should I even have to leave Franklin County to find the fun?

If I was a businesswoman – but sadly I am not – I would open one of these board gaming lounges. I would build up my games collection, lease a space and start a board game cafe.

It would be almost the best job in the world, second only to being a community journalist. 

So here’s the challenge for someone who, unlike myself, actually is a businessman or businesswoman. Could Franklin County support a cool place like this, where everyone from teens to families to singles could pop in for a game and a bite? For date night, for a birthday, for a random Tuesday – it could be a hit.