How to Deal with a Friend or Significant Other that Ruins Game Night?

how to deal with someone who ruins game night

Is there anything better than the feeling you get when you get together with friends for a game night? Everyone is laughing and having a blast. Everyone that is, except for one person. We like to call them the AGNP (anti game night people). Everyone knows the type. The person who we either can’t stand or just doesn’t understand the allure of board games. They huff and puff at the first mention of playing a board game and continue to suggest doing something else… ANYTHING else other than a silly old board game. Your first instinct may be to hate that person. After all, who doesn’t like board games?!? Don’t worry, I’ll let you know how to deal with a friend or a significant other that ruins game night. 

I’m here to tell you that AGNP aren’t bad people! Afterall, everyone is different, unique, and has different tastes when it comes to entertainment. Who are we to judge? 

So how do we handle a friend or a significant other who ruins game night? How do you deal with a person who is resistant to play along with the rest of the group? The short answer for difficult cases is, you just don’t. You can not force someone to do something they are not willing to do – no matter how much you disagree with their opinion. BUT don’t let that discourage you! That might be a hard truth to swallow for the most difficult of AGNP’s, but there is still hope for most of them! 

Below are our best tips on how to deal with game night party poopers! We will start by outlining the gentle approaches we have used with our own AGNP’s, as well as give you tips on what to do if the ‘gentle touch’ fails. 

Steps on how to deal with a friend or a significant other who ruins game night:

Step 1: Bring it up gently! 

The last thing a person who hates board games is going to want to hear is that you and the rest of the gang want to play one. DO NOT just spring it on them. Be sensitive and aware of your tone. You don’t want to sound resentful or give them the impression that you already know what they are going to say. It never works out well for either party when you assume how someone will respond to a question. 

Let’s start with how we would go about presenting a game night event to our AGNP friend Mike*, it might go something like this – 

“Hey Mike, it’s been a while since we all got together to hang out. Hillary and I were thinking of hosting a get together this weekend at our place. We’re still playing around with ideas, but we were thinking of playing some games and making it a game night. I know that last time we had a game night you weren’t fond of the idea, but we hope that you will give it another chance and join us.” 

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individual… only kidding, Mike is a made up person. If your name is Mike we are sorry, let’s be friends <3

If all goes well, Mike might consider attending. By acknowledging that you were aware of his previous reservations towards game night, you are showing him that his feelings matter. Empathy is a great way to connect with someone, especially a person who has opposing views on a subject. 

Step 2: Give them a part in the decision making. 

Once your empathetic invitation is accepted, we want to continue making our AGNP friend comfortable and heard. This step might be a little more time consuming depending on how detailed your approach will be. Start by gathering your go to, or favorite board games. 

Make a list of these games. If your friend or significant other is familiar with them, send them the list and ask them to pick their favorite. On game day, play that game first! This will create a more positive experience for your AGNP by not only making them happy playing a game they prefer, but by also reinforcing that empathetic connection you made earlier. 

If your friend is a newbie to the game night scene, prepare your list of favorite games, but also include a self written, small description of each game. This step is more time consuming, but it is also more rewarding. By taking the time YOURSELF to briefly explain the games, you are decreasing the amount of mental energy your AGNP needs to spend deciding on which one to pick. 

This is especially beneficial if your friend or significant other was more hesitant to accept the invite to begin with, because they won’t randomly pick a game they know nothing about. Therefore, they will hopefully not be disappointed and negative on game day. And let’s face it, they aren’t going to take the time to look each game up themselves. 

One other thing to keep in mind, the game list you send your friend or significant other should be no longer than five games. Remember, game night is not their passion. While you may have a favorite game list that is longer than route 66, they are struggling to enjoy just one.

Step 3: Everyone loves snacks!

Game night and finger foods go hand in hand, at least the best game nights do! While you are sending that list of board games, don’t forget to ask your friend or significant other what their favorite snack is (if you don’t already know). 

Happy people eating finger foods

Most people are emotional eaters, at least we know we are! We eat when we are happy, we eat when we are celebrating and of course… We eat when we are sad / stressed. This might be hard to understand, but your AGNP might find game nights stressful. Therefore, on grocery shopping day, make sure you grab their favorite comfort snack. 

Empathetic Connection,
Mixed with a dash of Decision Inclusion,
and a bit of bribe-y Comforting Snacks to top it all off!
You have yourself a recipe for success! 

But don’t stop reading now, we still have some more tips on how to make the night go more smoothly and further encourage your AGNP to have a good time! 

The first three steps we shared SHOULD have a significant effect on preventing a game night meltdown from your friend or significant other. Those are the important ones you need to take to get your friend or significant other TO the game night and comfortable at the beginning. 

These next two are what we feel will seal the deal on them continuing to attend. 

Step 4: Utilize the gateway games

After playing your AGNP’s game pick, what game do you play next? We do not feel it is necessary to continue to only play the games that they choose and wish. First of all, that is too much power for one person! Secondly, that isn’t fair to the rest of the guests. Now it’s time to move the night forward with more games. 

Although you won’t be playing AGNP game picks for the rest of the evening, we still need to keep them in mind when thinking about WHAT games to play next. We want to encourage them to continue to have fun. The last thing we want is to play an overly detailed, difficult game to play. 

By choosing some “Gateway Games” for the remainder of the game night, you are creating a stress free and easy going environment that will encourage them to have fun and possibly want to come back for more!

For a complete list of our recommended Gateway Games, check out our article on the best gateway board games to involve non-gamers at game night

Step 5: Keep it short

Now we know that in our “how long should a game night last” article, we recommend a game night that lasts anywhere from  3-5 hours. We stand behind that in a “normal” setting. When you have someone who was not eager to participate in a game night to begin with, five hours is a veryyyy long time to be playing games. 

For this exact reason, we advise that you start them off playing during a shorter game night. Anywhere from 2-3 hours should give you ample time to play a few games without the AGNP getting burnt out. 

Game Night Ticking Clock

We want to think of this specific game night as the “make it or break it” game night. This is the one that is going to determine whether future game nights with this specific person are going to run smoothly, or if you will need to continue using the above tricks to keep them satisfied. 

A longer game time runs the possibility of turning them off and undoing any progress that was made during steps 1-4. So keep it short and sweet! 

… and that’s it! Those are our 5 steps to help you conquer the game night party pooper! We covered a lot, so hopefully you gained some more insight on how to deal with a friend or significant other that ruins game night.

We are sure that if you utilize these steps, you will have a much easier time handling your AGNP. With hard work and (gentle) persistence, we believe that you can turn that Anti-Game Night Person into a GAME NIGHT BELIEVER! 

And if that friend or significant other continues to ruin game nights, we hate to say it, but maybe the best solution will be to just have them not come. Always invite, but don’t be upset or offended if they deny your invitation. You did the right thing by asking, and they did what they thought was best by not accepting. 

Just remember that above all, the most important thing is to make sure that everyone, including yourself, has a fun and successful game night.

We hope you enjoyed this article on how to deal with a friend or significant other that ruins game night. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below!

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