Most of us are bombarded with technology at every corner; in the space of a minute, you could be playing Candy Crush on an iPhone, changing the music choice on your laptop, flipping through channels on a TV, and then back to playing Candy Crush. It’s exhausting – what ever happened to the good ‘ol days of playing Monopoly or The Game of Life to keep us entertained?
Fear not, nostalgia-seekers. Opening hopefully in late April, House Rules Café in Hudson will be a dedicated board game café, offering an impressive range of 70+ games to start, from classics like Monopoly and Settlers of Catan to Fluxx, Apples to Apples, Castles of Burgundy, and Dead of Winter. Eventually, there are plans to offer more strategy-heavy games, like Terra Mystica and Twilight Imperium.
Since 2010, board game cafes have been popping up around the country, all with a slightly different feel and flair. Some are set up like pubs or restaurants, and others are more casual. “We’re going for something in between, a bit like a diner, a bit like a family restaurant, a bit like a coffee shop,” said House Rules Café owner Kathleen Miller.
The way House Rules Café will work is simple: for either a daily, weekly, or monthly membership fee, patrons can play all the games they want, for as long as they want, while snacking on comfort food like grilled cheese or roasted chickpeas and sipping Thrive Farmers coffee. Limited table service will be available, so as not to interrupt your gaming, and a corner with kids’ games and activities in full view of any table in the café will provide a kid-friendly space.
Miller likened naming the cafe to a game itself, noting she needed to be aware of how the name would represent her and whether people would understand what the cafe was based off the name. “Everyone has their house rule in gaming, such as the Monopoly Free Parking rule,” explained Miller. “House rules are also used to make imbalanced games more equal, or to establish constraints so that one player isn’t always guaranteed the win. So we’re playing with the House Rules.” Thus, the name House Rules Cafe was born.
Miller’s café will be unique to the area in several ways – completely woman-owned and operated, the café is the first of its kind for the trendy river city of Hudson. Not only that, but Miller is actively involving the community (and whoever else is passionate about board game cafes!) in the opening process by using Kickstarter for her last round of funding to get the café running.
“Kickstarter has become a major source of funding for board games. Most board game cafes also use crowdfunding, either to round out their startup funds, or to be able to do something special,” Miller said. “Using Kickstarter as one revenue stream gives the community a chance to offer their support even before we open. It also reaches supporters in communities outside of upstate New York – we have backers from as far away as Sweden, the UK, and Vancouver!”
House Rules Café’s Kickstarter goal is $10,000 in funding — and as of this writing, they surpassed their goal with 60 hours left in the campaign. Currently, 101 backers have pledged more than $11,000 in funding. Backers receive anything from a one-day membership to the café for a $5 pledge to a celebration party with lifetime membership to the café (not to be offered at any other time) and a swag bag filled with rewards for a $500 pledge. With the original Kickstarter goal met, there are now a few new “stretch goals” at $10,500, $12,000, and $15,000. “It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing that one’s project is so well received by the community!” she said. Miller notes that some of her biggest supporters have been those she met while hosting a weekly game night at Hudson’s Red Dot Restaurant.
Aiming to have House Rules Café open to the public on April 29 to coincide with Geek & Sundry International Tabletop Day, Miller has already hosted a well-received panel discussion about representation in comic books and comic-related media and an open house for the community to learn more about the café, its plans, sample some grub and play a few shorter games. And fear not, gamers. Even if House Rules isn’t quite open yet on the 29th, expect some sort of series of events for Tabletop Day. “It’s a great way to introduce some of the lesser-known games, while bringing people together from different backgrounds,” Miller said.
House Rules Café
757 Columbia St, Hudson