There are many reasons tabletop games are a wonderful medium for bringing people together. 

The first and simplest is accessibility. A deck of cards for less than $5 can provide hundreds of hours of entertainment in hundreds of different ways. And there are games for everyone, available to suit any playstyle, age group, level of literacy or mathematical ability, attention span, and group size. 

Second, the prescribed social framework of a game (i.e. how its rules define how interactions work) provides an excellent opportunity to model desired behavior in younger players. Competitive games give older players an opportunity to model what a good winner (or a good loser) looks like. Cooperative games give older players the chance to aid younger players in a way that encourages them to work together, communicate, and negotiate in a low-stakes environment. 

Third, games are finite. The fact that a game has a definitive ending is incredibly valuable in a learning environment. It gives players a chance to take a break, to reflect on the experiences they just had, to start a new game, or start over and try the same one again. Additionally, it gives players the chance to walk away and find a different game/activity; or it can just be a good marker for when it’s time to call it a day. 

In addition to the reasons above, games provide an opportunity to practice literacy, problem solving, computation, probability, spatial reasoning, critical thinking, and a whole host of other essential and practical skills for all ages. 

Plus, games are just fun. Come out and try some games at one of our events, and maybe you’ll find something you want to take home to your friends and family! At the very least, you’ll get to learn something new and meet some good people while you’re doing it.

Here are some games you can play with your family over the summer.

Most of these games work best for children over the age of six. If you have younger kids, check out HABA Games for some great options:

Catch the Moon

Best for ages 6+

Catch the Moon is a competitive dexterity game for 2–6 players. Think of it almost like a reverse Jenga or Pick-Up Sticks. On their turn, one player rolls a die that tells them how they need to add one or more ladders to a shared sculpture that you’ll be making together. If they fail to add their ladders to the increasingly unstable stack, they collect a raindrop token. Once all of the tokens have been collected, the player with the fewest tokens wins. Play lasts 15–30 minutes. After a few turns, you’ll start to get the hang of it, figuring out new ways to add the ladders. It’s also quite beautiful.

Cover Your Assets

Best for ages 8+

In this competitive card game, 4–6 players will compete to collect the most valuable sets of riches. On a turn, players can lay down a pair of matching cards from their hand, or they can attempt to steal a set laid down by another player by playing down a card that matches the set they want to steal. The set's owner can play a matching card of their own to protect it, resulting in a progressively funny back-and-forth between players, and a very expensive stack. When the deck runs out, whoever has the most expensive set of cards in front of them wins. Play lasts about 30 minutes.


Best for ages 10+

Telestrations is a cooperative game for 3–8 players that plays in about 30–60 minutes, depending on how many players there are. Telestrations is kind of like the telephone game, but with drawings instead of whispered statements. All players begin by selecting a secret word and writing it into their notebook, then passing it along to the person on their left. That person then draws the secret phrase and passes it along for the next player. That player then attempts to guess what the last player attempted to draw, writes it down in their notebook, and passes it along. Play continues until each player gets their book back, then they flip through their notebook from start to finish, sharing how their secret phrase devolved based on the drawings of other players. This one is a lot of fun!

Wits and Wagers

Best for ages 12+

Wits and Wagers is a trivia game for 4–7 players, where no one needs to be any good at trivia. On their turn, one player reads a question that always has a numeric answer (for example: “How many stairs are in the Empire State building?”). Then, each player writes their guess on a card and places it face down in front of them. The reader collects the cards and organizes them on a felt mat in ascending order. Players now place bets on whose answer they believe is closest to the real answer without going over. Answers in the middle of the spread have a lower rate of return than answers on the extreme ends. Then, the answer is revealed, and those closest to the answer collect winnings while all other players lose their bets. Whoever ends up with the largest chip count at the end of the game wins.

Just One

Best for ages 12+

In this cooperative word game, 3–7 players work together to give clues and guess words successfully. On their turn, one player will be responsible for guessing a word based on single-word clues written down on whiteboards by all other players. But be careful! If your clue is shared by any other clue givers, that clue is eliminated from what the guesser has to work with. Then it’s the next player’s turn, and play repeats. Just One plays in about 30–45 minutes, depending on how many times each person wants to be the guesser. Players can also come and go during the game, which works out well for larger groups where not everyone can stay the entire time.

Brendan Quinn is the President of Tri-City Area Gaming, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that promotes critical thinking skills with community-building events and supports game-based educational and charitable activities. 

Tri-City Area Gaming uses tabletop gaming as a framework for social interaction, education, and community building. They host nearly 100 events a year in order to bring folks together in a way that’s safe, friendly, and inclusive. 

Check out Tri-City Area Gaming’s events and follow them on social media: