Good games are the cornerstone to any good game room or home bar setup.
Whether you have a home bar or a game room in your basement, you need some good game room ideas.
You want people to be entertained and have fun when they come to your home.
After all, why spend all that time building a home bar if you are just going to sit there by yourself and drink. Ok, sometimes that’s alright, but not every night. You want more than just a counter with some bottles behind it, you want to make your home bar interesting and exciting.
So other than more drinks, the best way to add excitement to your bar, is with some awesome bar games. Not only do they give your guests something to do, they also make the space look cool.
If you think I’ve missed one, let me know in the comments below and I’ll add it (if it’s a good one)…
1. Tabletop Shuffleboard
If I see tabletop shuffleboard in a bar, I’ll be playing it. This is one of my all time table games and is one of the essential home bar games.
Just to be clear, I am NOT talking about the concrete, on the ground, retirement home shuffleboard. This is the kind that you find running about 10-20 feet alongside the wall in all the bars and pubs that know a good bar game when they see one.
This game involves sliding pucks across a long narrow table to try and get them to stop in the scoring zone without going over the edge. The playing surface has no lip on any side so any puck not skillfully slid can fall off the edge. There is alarge 1 point zone, followed by smaller 2 and 3 point zones. Players take turns sliding 4 pucks each.
The strategy involved a combination of placing your puck in a point zone, trying to hit their puck out of the point zone, and blocking the other player from hitting yours out. You play in teams of 2 typically and since you end up standing next to your opponent, its a great social game to get people to interact that don’t necessarily know each other. It is simple to play but takes some practice to get good.
Darts is the bar perfect home bar game. It doesn’t take up a lot of space, it’s simple to play but takes skill to be good, there are many variations to play, and multiple people can be involved on one game.
PRO TIP: Don’t hang your dartboard in a place where people have to walk in front to get past you. Drinks + throwing pointy objects where people walk = eye patches and lawsuits.
The best part about a dart board is that it is a relatively inexpensive thing to add to your home bar. You can get a dart board alone or you can get a whole set with a cabinet and still not spend that much.
3. Golden Tee
I’m a golfer. I love to be out on the course as much as I can. But if I can’t be playing golf, Golden Tee is the next best thing. Golden Tee first started appearing in arcades 1989 and there were 23 different versions from then until the last one in 2009. I have no idea which one is the best or which one I played the most, but I’m pretty sure they were all awesome.
The was an arcade golf game that let you swing the club by spinning a ball embedded in the console. There were basically two types of players. There are those that would carefully position both thumbs on the trackball, expertly snapping them and executing a shot with surgical precision. Then there were those that would use one hand and spin the trackball by slamming their hand forward with such force that you were worried they were going to crack the screen.
If you ever wanted to play insane golf hole designs that would make the best PGA players quit, then Golden Tee if your game. If you want to add Golden Tee to your home, then I would suggest getting an arcade game that has many games in it, including Golden Tee. This one is perfect and has all the different types of controls you need for the built in games.
Fair warning, this game is addictive. Some of the most intense bar game battles I can remember took place in college on the Foosball table they had in the bar in the student center.
Foosball is perfect for a home bar. A Foosball table will look good in the room and it doesn’t take up a lot of space. It’s not a complicated game to play so anyone can get into it, even if they are just spinning the handles like a crazy person. Last, it holds up to the more skilled of bar game athletes that need a true test of skill against their fellow humans.
Foosball is one game where the quality of the table matters a lot! Don’t cheap out on one of those plastic tables that shake when you take a shot. The ball will roll all over the place and the game loses its fun. Plus you’ll get destroyed if you ever end up playing against a decent player on a real table. I suggest a Tornado Foosball table. They are one of the best names in the industry and you really can’t go wrong with any of their tables.
Also be warned that there are people out there that are insanely good at foosball. They perform what can only be described as physics breaking moves at speeds that The Flash would be jealous of. Watch out.
If you are looking for a good table, here are some great Foosball tables under $500.
5. The Ring Game
It doesn’t get any simpler than the ring game. It’s the perfect bar game for those visitors that may have had a few too many and so should be anywhere near the dart board. It’s basically a metal ring hanging from the ceiling and a hook hanging on the wall. The string hanging from the ceiling is the perfect length to let it hit the hook if you swing it forward. The idea of the game is to hook the ring on the hook.
Most people will be entertained for about 5 minutes. But some people can sit there all day and play with this thing. Thus, it makes the list.
You’re going to need some space to put a billiards or pool table, but it is probably one of the most quintessential bar games (next to maybe darts). When I think of billiards, I automatically think of an older bar with wood panel walls and at least three neon signs…two if which are broken.
Pool is great because its slow paced and there is time for socializing. It involves a fair amount of skill not to look foolish but just about anyone can give it a try, so it’s a fun social game to play. The only problem with a pool table for the home bar is the size. Not everyone can fit a giant pool table in their basement. They come in smaller sizes, but even then, you still need room to pull the cue stick back. If you have the space, they are awesome though.
7. Air Hockey
If 16 year old me could pick any one game to have been in our basement growing up, he would have picked air hockey.
I don’t think present day me would argue with that choice either.
Look, if you think air hockey isn’t awesome, then you’re probably on the wrong website. First of all, you’re playing with a puck that floats on a bed of air. Second, it’s fast and requires quite a bit of skill to be good. Third, it used to cost like 4-8 quarters when I was a kid so at this point you’re saving money by getting one for your home. This is one of the ultimate home bar games.
The barrier for entry is pretty low. Anyone can pick up one of the mallets (yes, that is their official name) and smack the puck around for a good time. But put two skilled and agressive air hockey players on that same table and its an intense battle.
8. Beer Pong
If you’re going to entertain guests at your home bar, you’ve got to be ready to host some beer pong games. The materials are easy…a table, solo cups, ping pong balls, and beer. If you don’t have them, try to avoid any convenience store within 10 miles of a college campus. They charge ten bucks for a pack of ping pong balls because…well…supply and demand are strong market forces.
The best way to set up beer pong for your party is a tournament. Get everyone to sign up at the beginning of the party and then make a big tournament bracket to put up on the wall. If you just go with the “winner stays” method, there will just be two guys that sit at the table all night and never let anyone else win. They’ll probably still win your tournament, but at least they didn’t take up the table the whole time.
9. Ping Pong
I suppose it would be terrible to include beer pong in this list and not the game from which beer pong draws its origins. But that’s really the only reason it’s on the list. It’s tennis, but smaller. Some people are insanely good at ping pong and you absolutely do not want to play with them. It’s just not that fun to repeatedly have a ping pong ball bounced off your face.
10. Video Games
For those times when you just have a couple friends over at the home bar for the day, some good video games are perfect to pass the time. But there really isn’t any need for the latest and greatest. After all, you can play multiplayer on your PS4 against anyone around the globe when you’re home alone. If you are entertaining guests, you are going to want some vintage (read “old”) video games.
Not everyone is going to pick up and play the latest Assassin’s Creed iteration, but everyone knows our old friends Mario and Luigi. Grab yourself an old NES or Super NES and a few of these classic games. Better yet, make your own video game emulator and you can play all the games you want. Fair warning though, when you have 500 to choose from, you just end up playing Mario Cart every time anyway.
Who doesn’t get excited when you go to a bar on a Tuesday for happy hour only to discover they are about to start a trivia tournament?! Want to make your home bar the first destination for all your friends to come over and hang out? Host a regular trivia night and you’ll always have friends in your bar.
You can go the route of making up your own questions. That can be fun especially when you get questions that you know your friends won’t know the answers to. But then you’re always playing game show host and never can participate. Try getting an app that everyone can play on their phones. The questions are already taken care of and you get the opportunity to demonstrate your vast knowledge. If you lose, then go back to playing game show host.
I stink at pinball, but I still love playing a pinball machine every chance I get. I was always fascinated by the intricacy and complexity of these machines. Some pinball machines are works of art right up there with anything you’ll see in a museum (and probably more difficult to make). Pinball machines have been around since the 1940s so you can find some amazing antiques if you know where to look. Unfortunately, you don’t see as many new pinball machines being made.
My favorite pinball machines were always associate with some of my favorite movies and TV shows. I remember feeding a lot of quarters to an Indiana Jones pinball machine at my local arcade. PinBot was another awesome one that had a robot theme. Among the newer ones, Mars Attacks is really cool. It has a bunch of little aliens that freak out when you hit them. One of those rare situations where the pinball machine was better than the movie.
A pinball machine is the perfect way to say, “I like arcade games, but I’m still classy.”
I saved this one for last because, well, it probably isn’t for everyone. Everyone knows what a karaoke machine is. You either love it or hate it (typically depending on whether you sound like a dying buffalo or not when you sing). If you want to add a karaoke machine to your home bar, maybe float the idea with your friends first to gauge some interest or else you’ll be left singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” all alone.
What Else Belongs Here?
Did I miss something that you think belongs on this list? Leave a comment below and let me know…