My Return to Game Nights in a Post-Vaccinated World

Gaming Tabletop Games

May 4th, as a multitude of fans will tell you, is Star Wars Day, a celebration of the vast universe created by George Lucas. But for me personally, it’s also notable for an additional fact this year: it was exactly 2 weeks after getting my second shot of the Moderna vaccine. And with that, my household was completely vaccinated. According to CDC guidelines, that means I’m now free to host a board game night again, along with other vaccinated friends.

I have to admit, I haven’t exactly rushed back into social gatherings. After over a year of social distancing and fear of catching the virus, I’ve been slow to embrace mask-free activities. Not that I’ve been entirely isolated during the pandemic! As a side gig for the last couple of years, I’ve been a Quizmaster for King Trivia. While that went on hiatus for a period when we were in lockdown here in California, over the last few months I’ve been back at the pub (albeit outdoors and distanced) hosting trivia games.

Nevertheless, it feels strange after so long of an isolated period to be around people, unmasked and socializing. A couple of weeks ago, I had my first meal inside a restaurant since the pandemic began. It wasn’t anything fancy, and I was by myself (I was waiting to pick up my mother from her outpatient surgery). The dining experience was both wonderful and mildly uncomfortable. And last week, I went to my first movie in a movie theater since seeing The Invisible Man pre-lockdown in 2020. It was a screening of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade at a dine-in theater, and there were only about 15-20 people total there, which made it a great way to ease back into going to the movies.

It wasn’t gourmet, but my first indoor dining in over a year was delicious. Image by Paul Benson.

Which Brings Me to Game Nights

Organizing a game night, something so commonplace pre-2020, now feels somewhat daunting. People outside my pandemic bubble? In my home? Without masks? Frightening!

According to CDC guidelines, once you’re fully vaccinated, it’s now safe to resume most activities you did before the pandemic, without masks or social distancing. And that includes, of course, game nights.

A somewhat sticky situation can arise when figuring out who to invite to your new game night. According to the latest government data, 62.9% of Americans currently have at least one dose of the vaccine. But you should only be returning to maskless activities once you’re fully vaccinated. Here in California, we’ve made good vaccination progress, but still only have 51.4% of our state’s population that has gotten their full round of shots.

Additionally, you may have a household that’s only partially vaccinated. Many of our readers have younger kids that are still at risk, as none of the vaccines have yet to be approved for their age range. If that’s the case, you shouldn’t be hosting an unmasked indoor game night yet. Instead, go over to a fully vaccinated home for a game night, or maybe stick with masks and/or outdoor game nights for a while longer. Just be sure to follow your local COVID guidelines. I’m a proponent of this variant of KISS: “keep it scientific, stupid!”

Hosting My First Post-Vaccinated Game Night

Like a lot of my fellow board gamers, I’ve been doing a lot of online gaming during the pandemic. Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator have been great outlets for still being able to safely meet up with my friends and play games, and have also been invaluable for reviewing games over the last year and change.

In some ways, for me, this last year has felt like a slow buildup to a return to in-person gaming. Last August, I reviewed the Origins Game Table, giving me a great table to play board games on, but which frustratingly has so far only been used by myself. And very recently I received a shipment of Razer Iskur chairs, which I spent a chunk of Memorial Day Weekend assembling. Now I have a fantastic set up for board gaming… I just need my vaccinated friends to game with.

A few small boxes arrived, courtesy of Razer. Image by Paul Benson.

Well, that and figuring out which games to play on that first game night in person. That’s probably the hardest decision of all.

Have you hosted (or attended) a game night yet since getting vaccinated? Let me know how it went in the comments below!

Seats waiting for gamer butts to fill them! Image by Paul Benson.
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