Published November 18, 2020

GUEST BLOG: Gaming during the pandemic

In 2019, the Indiana State Museum hosted “For the Win: The Hoosier Game Expo,” which featured a day of non-stop gaming and the opportunity to explore a variety of games, talk with Indiana game designers and more. We’re unfortunately unable to host the expo this year due to COVID-19.

We aren’t the only ones missing out on the gaming fun, though. Through guest blogs, learn how the pandemic has changed the way groups game together and game development.

By Craig Mince, president of the Athenaeum Foundation Inc.

I grew up playing all kinds of games, and I have two that I would say were my gateway entry into an early life of games. First and foremost was HeroQuest! I remember begging for that game as a kid and getting it for my birthday one year. I would play it for hours with friends in the neighborhood.

The second also is the game that reintroduced me to tabletop gaming later in life – Fireball Island. When I saw that there was a Kickstarter campaign to update and reissue the game a few years back, I jumped on the opportunity to back it and was immediately brought back into the world of gaming as a hobby.

Some of my favorite games to play right now are Parks from Keymaster games, Jaws from Ravensburger, Side Effects from Pillbox – and of course the reissue of Fireball island!

We began Dice & Decks: Game Night at Athenaeum in January 2019. Although currently postponed due to COVID-19, we hope to resume mid-year 2021 or when gathering as a group is safe again. Anyone interested in joining the fun can visit our website at to get more information about Dice and Decks and to sign up for our newsletter.

Q: What have your monthly game nights looked like during the pandemic? 

A: When we came up with the idea of hosting Dice & Decks: Game Night at Athenaeum it was to really start building a gaming community that could come and enjoy the building and find some common ground to meet people and to share games.

At the beginning of the pandemic – when everyone was sheltering-in-place – we tried hard to move Dice & Decks to a virtual platform, but besides a few random online bingo emulators and Jackbox Games, there wasn’t really a way to host more than a handful of players thus really losing the concept of community.

Have you noticed gaming going virtual during the pandemic?

Yes and no. Yes, in the fact that there has always been a growing virtual component in the tabletop gaming industry. I think a situation like what has happened this year has only just accelerated its growth.

At the same time, I think no. The culture of tabletop gaming is one of community and camaraderie which really can’t be replicated virtually, only supplemented. The tactile nature of holding the cards or dice or game piece just can’t be beat.

How are people continuing to play with friends right now? 

I can tell you family game nights at home are still wildly popular, and virtual options have grown exponentially since the first half of the year.

What I’m seeing is families are starting to merge their “bubbles” to include extended family and very close “trustworthy” friends for short, and sometimes outside, game nights.

What other changes with gaming have you noticed during the pandemic?

It seems like new games coming to market have slowed down a little this year. I would attribute that to the fact that events like Gen Con and some of the other gaming conventions aren’t happening and with those types of in-person roll outs being so crucial to tabletop games.

I guess that just means it’s going to be a BIG year when we can have Gen Con again!

Find out how the pandemic has changed game development in this guest blog by Chris Hamm, game developer at Kolossal Games!

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