Lobby Games

Myself and fellow Quest Peddler handing out quest cards at Figment Boston, MA in 2013
Apr 09, 2023
game design

I’ve become interested lately what I like to call “lobby games” — designed to be played in the lobby of a gaming convention or party. The lobby space is a social zone prime for short interactions with several people, where you run into old friends and potential new friends!

There is overlap with parlor games, icebreaker games, party games, and hallway games, but I think there are some unique aspects that make it so lobby games deserves a category all of it’s own.

What makes a lobby game?

  • A engaging hook: a game premise that quickly grabs interest making it easy to rope people into a game — a catchy name, a snazzy graphic, a zinger of a tagline.
  • Easy fast play, whenever wherever: minimal rules playable while standing or even walking, with a little to no game materials. Each “game session” no longer than a few minutes, allowing one to easily jump into and out of a game.
  • Encourages socializing: game play that encourages mingling and fits into the space between conversations rather than monopolizing your social time.
  • Casual viral play: game play that encourages others to join in and play or run the game themselves. Flyer or business card games are great for this as they make it easy to print several copies for anyone to pick up and play.
  • Personal unique experience: Unlike party games where everyone plays together, each person plays at their own pace with whomever they want. Games can be started or stopped whenever and every player will have their own unique story by the end.

Lobby Games I’ve created

Quest Peddlers, which is a game I created with my partner for Figment Boston in 2013, fit into this (see photo above). We went around handing quests to participants of all ages that encouraged people to interact. For instance, one such quest was “draw an elaborate weird hopscotch and convince someone to play with you!”

In 2019, I created Ghost Census, a business card game about census takers cataloging ghosts. In order to complete the census for a ghost, each census taker needs to ask the help of five other people as mediums. They then are encouraged to take a copy of the game and become a ghost census taker themselves.

More recently, I designed Covidor the Corrupt, which was inspired by Vincent Baker’s game The Wizard’s Grimoire. Like his game each player finds someone to be their narrator for a scene. Unlike that game, each scene in Covidor the Corrupt is playable in couple minutes with a definite end after four scenes. I also created a second game with the same mechanics called Star Intern!

Tell me about your lobby game!

I can’t claim to be the only one to create games like this. I know there are others. If you have yourself played or made a game that fits into this lobby game definition I’d love to hear about it!

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