Why game night is essential for housemate bonding

Some healthy competition may be the secret to making lifelong friends

Various games.
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Photo illustration by Josh Granovsky

Will hosting a weekly game night stop your housemates from making an absolute mess of the communal toothpaste tube? No, probably not. 

But if you’re willing to bond over the extent of one another’s depravity while playing Cards Against Humanity, game night might just bring your house closer together. 

There are plenty of ways to really get to know your housemates. For a start, actually living with them most likely provides some valuable insight on their personalities. When you see each other almost every day, it doesn’t take long to find out who to call when you need a spider killed, or which of your roommates would rather pull an all-nighter at the library than have to take out the trash. 

Beyond this, communal dinners, movie nights and the occasional shared indulgence in a wheel of baked brie are all great opportunities to spread housemate love without having to leave the comfort of your own house.

Recently, I’ve discovered the bonding power of playing good old fashioned games. Although hardly ground-breaking, it’s something I’d highly recommend. 

There’s nothing like a little healthy competition to get people off their smartphones and focus on what’s in front of them. While cards and board games may seem trivial in the grand scheme of life, you’d be surprised how quickly things get heated and how funny it is when they do. Whether the game you play encourages cooperation or momentary rivalry, it forces some often much needed face time — and not the kind trademarked by Apple.

Board gaming also provides a healthy outlet for stress and pent-up roommate rage. It shifts your focus away from the two essays, three midterms and endless assignments looming ahead and puts it towards something far more important: winning. When you do manage to win, and proceed to rub it in everyone else’s face, it feels almost as good as telling them off for never doing their dirty dishes. Almost. 

You might also be lucky enough to learn a new thing or two about the people you’ve decided to live with. For example, you may learn one of your housemates is dangerously competitive. Or, better yet, who you’d call if the Apocalypse ever hits.

While the benefits of game night seem endless, as full-time students, it can be hard to find the time for such fun and frivolity. Luckily, game night can be as extravagant or as laid-back as you desire. There’s no need to pull out all the stops; broke university students aren’t a picky breed. 

In my house, we tend to lean toward games that require little to no prep, supplies or skill. We’re happy to fight over Cards Against Humanity or furiously act out clues for Heads Up.

You, on the other hand, may be willing to invest more time and money into game night. You might even be tempted to dig through your dusty cupboard during reading week and pull out Clue, Trivial Pursuit or The Game of Life. 

At the end of the day, all that matters is that you make an effort to spend some quality time with your housemates.

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