Moving into a house soon? Games to play with your new flatmates

So, housing decisions all sorted? Ready to move into your new student flat? Wondering how to stay friends as the dishes start piling up? Never fear, here’s how to navigate the world of flatmate gaming night, without destroying your new friendships.

It’s not quite the end of the year yet, but if you’re anything like me, you’ve been thinking about the next one since before Christmas. Now you’ve got everyone’s signature down, the next step is sorting out what you need to survive living outside halls and in close proximity to people you’ve known less than a year. Flatmate bonding is part of student life, and having fun together is an essential part of that. The answer? Games.

First things first: plan in advance. How often are you actually going to play? How much variety do you need? What do people already have? Always communicate; it’s all well and good just saying ‘everyone brings their favourite’, but that’s how you end up with five different novelty versions of Monopoly and not enough communal storage to keep them all in.

Start with what’s cheap and easy. A pack of ordinary playing cards will come in handy for a variety of games. Buy a stack of post-it notes to play The Rizla Game, and look up options for charades on the internet. These sorts of games are quick and fun, and usually enjoyable for everyone. Simple.

“… there will be arguments about the rules, there will be people who cheat, and friendships will be strained, if not utterly destroyed”

Now, we get down to business. Which board games should you bring? The most obvious is Monopoly, one of those timeless classics, where you slowly increase your debt and lose your self-confidence to crippling rents. Hmm, perhaps a bit too close to home? This game is great fun if played light-heartedly, but it very quickly gets very competitive and has been the cause of many a feud in its eighty years. Fair warning: there will be arguments about the rules, there will be people who cheat, and friendships will be strained, if not utterly destroyed. Play at your peril. Remember you still have to live with the other players after the game has ended.

Cluedo is a more flatmate-friendly alternative. This is one of my personal favourites, a murder mystery and a race to the truth. Everyone has their own system of figuring out the answer, and things can get competitive, but rarely with the destructive edge Monopoly has. If you prefer a team game, try Articulate or any of its variants, Taboo is a good choice. It is another long-standing game, which does have the potential to cause fights that spill over into flat life, but if kept playful it can be very entertaining. It’s especially hilarious when played at parties.

Children’s games are hugely entertaining for a group of almost-adults to get competitive over. Think Buckaroo, Mouse Trap, and all the ones you remember playing from your childhood. Games like Jenga and Kerplunk fit well into this genre and are relatively quick to set up and play.

Novelty games are also highly recommended. It’s usually quite fun to get a game that no one in the group has played before, although be warned: you will probably have to explain the rules multiple times. Whether it’s something like Five Second Rule or any other game based on a TV show, choose something random and just see what happens. You never know, it might become your new favourite game.

Finally, whether you’re particularly creative or not, pick an artistic game. Pictionary’s a good one, or Rapidough (the playdough equivalent). These games only get funnier when people cannot draw or sculpt at all, however, it can get frustrating, but is normally a laugh, and shouldn’t destroy any friendships (though we make no guarantees).

“You will see a whole new side to your flatmates – usually a hilarious and/or dirty one”

Oh, and a special mention: Cards Against Humanity. This is the essential student house party game. It’s one of the most commonly played games before nights out and makes an excellent addition to your flat collection. We started with the basic set and bought each other expansion packs for birthdays (great if you’re rubbish at coming up with ideas). Pro tip: The website offers a free download of the set you can print out. Whilst it won’t look or feel as nice as the proper cards, it is a much more budget friendly option. You will see a whole new side to your flatmates, usually a hilarious and/or dirty one. Beware finding out things you may not have wanted to know about the people you have to live with for the next year, but let’s face it, you’re going to play anyway.

So, there you have it, a comprehensive guide to gaming at uni, and whether or not each will end your newfound friendships. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Isobel Sheene

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Photo courtesy of James Petts via Flickr


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