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Board games and beer: Nerding out and having fun

Board games force players to be in the now, reacting authentically and spontaneously. Players have to work hard to make it a mutually satisfying experience.

Tokens for the popular board game Monopoly are seen in this photo illustration in Washington, DC on February 6, 2013.

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MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP/Getty Images

Tokens for the popular board game Monopoly are seen in this photo illustration in Washington, DC on February 6, 2013.

At Stormcrow Tavern on Commercial Drive, customers sip pints of beer over a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity, or peruse the wall of board games for their next challenge.

“On weekends, I’d say over half the customers are playing board games," said Colby, a waitress at Stormcrow. "People sometimes join other tables. I see fewer phones, different kinds of conversations.”

Stormcrow is part of an emerging trend towards board games for adults, who see playing at a bar, or at home with friends, as a more engaging way to socialize.

From a giant Jenga game in a hotel courtyard, to a pizzeria offering a choice of 100s of games, board games have never been more popular in Vancouver.

Local English instructor and board game enthusiast Ginny Chien fell in love with games as an adult. On an annual ski trip, a friend pulled out a deck of cards with weird pictures on them. At first she was disinterested, thinking these games were meant for children, "but a few hours later I found myself calling for one rematch after another.”

Although she generally plays at home because “we’d seem like five year olds taunting each other,” she sees the benefits of playing at a bar or restaurant.

“You get to try out games with experienced players before building your own collection.”

Chien noted that board games cement social bonds.

“I might not remember that text I sent out an hour ago, but I will remember how hard my friends laughed years ago during a round of Bang! when I revealed my identity as a sheriff after knocking down all my allies.”

As for their allure, she believes each player is forced to be in the now when playing board games, and it also enables you to react authentically and spontaneously. The players have to work hard to make it a mutually satisfying experience.

Players can get their game on at Stormcrow Tavern, Pizzeria Ludica, 131 Water Street, Bomber Brewing, and Six Acres, all of which offer an extensive selection of board games. The Board Gamers of Vancouver and Beyond the Infinite play board games most evenings at Board Game Warriors in New Westminster.

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