Turn your thoughts back to your childhood. Whether it was four friends crowding around a TV to play some GoldenEye or hosting a Street Fighter tournament, having friends over to play games was a wonderful experience.
But the art of throwing a great video game party has been lost. In the old days, gathering a group of friends to play games was pretty common, before the days of the internet made online play the only option for playing with friends. Worry not, though, here are some tips to throwing a great video game party.
Start with a Focus
Before you start inviting people over and buying the chips, you need to figure out what the focus of your party is. A retro gaming party is going to be vastly different from a Fortnite party. There will be different needs for the party to work, and those needs might even affect who comes.
For example, with a retro gaming party, you’ll need TVs compatible with the older input tech, likely multiple retro consoles and games, and working controllers. A Fortnite party, though, will require enough TVs and consoles for everybody to play, as there is no split screen options for the game.
Another type of focus you need to determine is if everybody is going to be playing the same game, or you’ll have a variety to play. A Super Smash Bros. tournament is going to be vastly different from a Halo party, and a variety of games can mean something for everybody.
Make Plans for the Necessary Tech
More than likely, you won’t have all the tech you’ll need for the party, especially if you’re throwing a huge one. You’ll need to borrow TVs, consoles, controllers, games, and maybe even cords and surge protectors. Write up a list of everything you’ll need to make it all work, and then reach out to friends to see what you can borrow.
If your party involves everybody playing online, you might also want to consider getting a better wireless router that can handle a large amount of people connecting to it. Nothing would be more frustrating than everybody having to deal with lag because the router can’t handle a dozen consoles connected to it.
Having Great Party Games
If you don’t have a game theme and just want to have a bunch of people over, be sure to get the right games. Nothing is more boring than everybody sitting around watching one person play.
Be sure to have a bunch of fun party games at the ready, and enough controllers for them. Ideal party games allow for at least 4 people to play at once, are easy to learn, offer quick matches, and are fun to play. Just a few great games include: Halo, Gang Beasts, Rock Band, Mario Kart, Jackbox party games, Super Smash Bros, Nidhogg, or a variety of fun and quick indie games.
Decorate for the Occasion
Now that you’ve got the video game part prepared, it’s time to focus on the party aspect. If you are just having a couple of buddies come over, decorating isn’t a big deal, but if you are having a dozen or more over, spruce up your place.
If you’re focusing on a specific video game theme, decorate your place to match. Throwing a 90s nostalgia game night? Put up 90s decor, find those old movie cups you definitely still have somewhere, and transform your place into a time machine to 1997.
Consider setting up an area free of video games and distraction in case people do want to chat or take a break. This could be a kitchen, a bedroom, or weather permitting, outside. Hang up some nice lighting to keep the party mood outside, and provide an area for people to rest their eyes and take a break. Some people suffer from dry eyes if they stare at a TV for too long, so encourage breaks without making them feel alienated from the party.
Plan the Right Snacks
A good party relies on the right kinds of food and snacks. It’s even more important when people are spending the night playing games and snacking at the same time. Having the right snacks is a careful balance of getting stuff people like, but nothing so greasy or cheese covered that it stains or ruins the controllers.
If you’re providing chips, skip cheetos, cheesy doritos, and most cheese-flavored chips. They stain fingers and controllers. Cool ranch doritos, less greasy chips, and pretzels are great alternatives.
Other snacks can be a good way around the greasy and cheesy mess that is chips. Finger foods, appetizers, and fresh fruit and veggies take extra preparation, but can be tastier and easier to control. Food on toothpicks is a great way to prevent sticky or greasy fingers.
If people are spending a long time at your place, you should probably provide a meal of some kind. Pizza is the natural choice, but if you do it, have mountains of paper towels and wet towelettes available. That way, people will clean off their hands after eating. If you do other foods, be sure to have enough paper plates and utensils. Avoid chicken wings, or similarly sticky finger foods, as even after cleaning them off, they can ruin controllers.
Have Fun, Play Games, Be a Good Host
Parties are supposed to be fun, so don’t be afraid to play games. Relax, enjoy yourself, and be a part of the party. Every 30 minutes to an hour, though, step away and analyze. Do you need more food? Is there enough ice? Is somebody hogging a game or making people salty? Is there someone crying in the corner? Be a good host and make sure everything is running smoothly. Interject when needed and try to keep everybody happy.