By Shay Moser
Photos courtesy of Gather 4 Games
When Gather 4 Games came to Union Hills Village in Phoenix in October 2021, the city got its first dedicated family-friendly board game lounge.
“What the heck is a board game lounge?” you’re probably asking.
Gather 4 Games owners Felix and Aimee Arenas say the family-owned and operated board game lounge offers visitors a social setting to play one or more of 300 games from its growing in-store library. But instead of Frogger and Mario Kart arcade games, for instance, you choose from board games like Ticket to Ride, Splendor, Catan, and Root. There are also popular role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, Traveller, and Pathfinder. A few card games include lMagic: The Gathering, Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh.
“Everyone is welcome at Gather 4 Games,” says Aimee. “People of all ages come to enjoy a game. Some live in the area, and others stop by during their visit to Phoenix.”
Gather 4 Games also has an on-site snack bar with candy, chips, cookies, a variety of heat-and-eat snacks, and Coke beverages. Plus, there are many board games for purchase or to rent to play from home.
“While we have a retail section for customers to purchase games and accessories, our main focus is on providing a space to play,” explains Felix.
Goals of Gather 4 Games
Their love of family, friends, and board games motivated Felix and Aimee to explore a lounge that brought them all together.
“As our little family grew, so did the expense of having a nice evening out,” Felix explains. “We discovered it was a much better investment to purchase a board game that we could enjoy again and again rather than spending about the same amount for our family to see a movie once.”
The third reason, and the one Felix says was the deciding factor that inspired opening Gather 4 Games, was the COVID-19 shutdown.
“There was such an abrupt change in how we were able to interact socially and communicate with one another,” he explains. “The pandemic had a huge effect on us all. The news reports about long-term negative effects on social development and mental health because of the shutdown were alarming.”
Once things started to open back up, Felix and Aimee agreed it was a great time to establish a safe and friendly place for people to gather and reconnect.
“Board games, card games, and role-playing games offer players a chance to interact in person, but also help build skills needed for social interaction and personal confidence,” says Aimee. “Having a neutral place to gather also takes the pressure off making new friendships for customers still feeling the effects of the shutdown.”
How does the board game lounge work?
Gather 4 Games offers a table fee of $5 per seat for all-day play. Customers can play as many games as they can want during their visit.
People can bring in a group of friends to play with, come in with their family, or visit by themselves to find a group to join.
“It’s a great way to meet new friends and enjoy a game,” says Aimee.
Additionally, Gather 4 Games has active groups for Dungeons & Dragons on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 5 p.m., and alternating weeks offer campaigns geared to ages 12 to 17 and adults.
New Year, New Games
“We’re excited to grow our community by offering a larger space to play so more groups can meet without feeling crowded,” says Aimee.
Gather 4 Games is nearly tripling its available table space, including two additional restrooms. The larger space will also make room for Warhammer, new board games, events, and workshops to help customers level up their gameplay, and an expanded retail area for customers interested in purchasing games, miniatures, paints, and game accessories.
While many businesses closed after the COVID-19 lockdown, Gather 4 Games is not going anywhere. “We’re excited about getting a permanent sign in the new year,” says Aimee.
You can play at 18631 N. 19th Ave. and learn more at gather4games.com.