Friends, fun and board games are the perfect combination – InForum
— They come in boxes of different sizes, filled with cards, coins, boards, dice and spinners. Some have been around for hundreds of years in one form or another, while others have only been on the shelves for a few seasons. Games, whether card, board or even video persuasion, continue to be a favorite pastime dating back to ancient Egypt.
This pleasure continues to this day and as locally as Willmar. As people search for new ways to interact or find something fun to do on a cold winter day huddled with friends and family, games are becoming a growing part of community recreation.
“Board games are fun,” said Tim Davis, events coordinator at the Willmar Community Center. “There are a lot of possibilities you can accomplish with board games.”
Over the past year, the Willmar Community Center board game collection has begun to grow and diversify. Classics like Monopoly and Clue are mixed with new favorites like Sheriff of Nottingham and Ticket to Ride. A grant from UCare helped bring new gaming options to the community.
“It had to go specifically towards the games,” said Britta Diem, director of the community center. “With the pandemic and everything, they’ve had an opportunity to create some connectivity with people in a safer way.”
Puzzles are also a growing fun at the community center. He now has over 300 puzzles in his puzzle exchange program. People can donate puzzles they’ve completed and pick up a new one to enjoy.
The community center offers a variety of game programs and events. Every Friday the center holds Farkle Fridays and every month a themed board game event is held on Saturday. Last October the focus was on scary games, while February 26 will be a dive into the classics.
A chess club was established in July; there are video game tournaments; and there is also always the multitude of card games that take place almost every day.
“I really like board games and I like the idea of a regular frame to do it,” Davis said.
At the Willmar Public Library, a teen games club offers teens in the community the opportunity to play board games and video games each month. Meeting on the second Friday of each month, the library offers a variety of board games as well as an Xbox video game console.
“That’s what they want to do,” said Samantha Lilienthal, teen programming librarian at the Willmar Public Library. “They just want to play games.”
A games club for adults should start soon and maybe one day a club for the youngest. The library also offers games for payment or just to play at the library. In fact, the library has a wide range of items for community members to peruse, including lawn games and even exercise equipment.
“We want to be a resource for the community,” Lilienthal said. “It shouldn’t just be about books and knowledge.”
Wherever people gather to meet, it can be the perfect place for a board game. Take the Goodness Coffee Shop in downtown Willmar, which has a library of games ready to play while people enjoy their coffees and pastries.
“It’s nice to play a game, a different way to pass the time,” said Candace Aaker, owner of Goodness with her husband, Nick.
Games can be a great icebreaker, especially if you don’t know the people you’re playing with well.
“It’s fun to see people using these tools to start a conversation,” Aaker said.
Games can also be a social avenue for people who might spend much of their day alone, either because of their job or because they live alone. Community center gaming events are a laid-back environment that tries to take the awkwardness out of meeting new people.
“It’s an opportunity for those who don’t have those groups of people to play games with,” Diem said. “They can come here and experience game night.”
Generations can meet around a board game or cards. At the community center, it is not strange to see a school-aged child learning a card game with an elderly person. And the chess club has a wide range of age groups.
“You have a grandpa teaching a 12-year-old how to play whist. It was cool to see,” Diem said. “It was very cool to see the different avenues and the connectivity between different generations coming together.”
While the pandemic and connected lockdowns may have been the catalyst for the resurgence in popularity of board games, puzzles and other similar pursuits, even as the world slowly returns to some normality, gaming events continue to be popular. And the reasons for this, according to a young player from the Teen Game Club, are rather simple.
“I like meeting people and having fun,” 16-year-old Avery Cox said. “That’s the main reason.”