Board games are for everyone. Surging in popularity, play them at home or at the Interactivity Board Game Cafe.

“It’s not just white males covered in cheese dust”

-Chris Rudram, Enigmatic Events, on the broad appeal of board games in 2018

Chess, Cribbage, Monopoly, Twister, Battleship, Operation and Scrabble. Those were the board games that tiled the livingroom floor of my childhood. There was also Mousetrap (always wanted, never got), and Hungry Hippos (always wanted, never got, got for my son— so loud).

Fast forward decades and the board game landscape has changed dramatically. According to Board Game Geek there are more than 88,000. But the appeal and the goals of games have also evolved to include teamwork, dexterity, risk and wit, etc. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of games you can simply win or lose.  

Speaking with Chris Rudram of Enigmatic Events, games are a solid way to connect, hang out and have fun. His lifelong passion for games may have been sparked by “Backgammon with my grandmother…Maybe she liked playing games or we played games to keep me quiet.” Chris’ company runs interactive events that embrace “fun and adventure,” integrating game-like techniques for murder mystery parties, scavenger hunts, social quizzes, team building, transformative gameplay and much more. In corporate training, he noted that games  give people a reason to interact with other people and break down barriers. A junior developer and a sales lead may never have had any reason to engage before. Consciously crafting team events builds morale. Games also reveal how people deal with winning and defeat, and whether they are game to try again.

In 2013, Jack Pinder and Bill Heaton opened Interactivity Board Game Cafe on Yates. For $5 people can stay and play for as long as they like and enjoy a snack or milkshakes, bowls of candy, roast beef and other sammies and non-alcoholic beverages. Their venture has enjoyed such resounding success that this year they took over the adjoining licensed space. Now, along with their 800+ games to try out, play or buy, you can satisfy your craving for a tea or a pint. I dropped by to check out a few games with Chris, who also works at the cafe part-time, running open gaming and sharing his passion and knowledge. The place is packed. Families, dates, buddies, girlfriends, mom and young son, you name it. All ages, all looks and configurations, board games are the bringing everyone together.

So, what games did I check out?

Concept 10+

It’s a charades-like game where you get clues through the selection of symbols. You have to guess a concept. Fascinating, with a bit of learning and getting into a rhythm required. Team game.

Fun fact: A Uvic semiotics professor uses Concept in class.

Codenames 14+

Award-winning game. 2-8 players. Teams get word clues to figure out their team’s word.

Designed by Vladimír Chvátil, a famous Czech board game designer.

Azul 8+

Stunning game based on Portuguese “Azulejos” (tiles). You think about what the other person is doing. This is a really good two-person game.

Pictomania 8+

Similar to pictionary but you both draw and guess at the same time. Also designed by Vladimír Chvátil.

So! You’re game? Here’s a list of a few shops in downtown Victoria where you can purchase and/or play boards games:

Cherry Bomb Toys Ltd. 

Interactivity Board Game Cafe

Kaboodles Toy Store

Munro’s Books

Oscar & Libby’s