Before there were video games, there were tabletop board games. Traditionally, board games held a special place in many American households, but the origin of tabletop games can be traced all the way back to Egypt over 5,500 years ago.
Despite the rise of video games and cell phones, board games have remained extremely popular. Surveys indicate that 78% of Americans find board games enjoyable. While board games are often played in the comfort of people’s homes with close family and friends, there is also an entire board gaming scene composed of like-minded gaming enthusiasts right here in South Florida.
Crawl Board Games, which specializes in pop-up events and organized meetups for board gaming, hosts Monday Night Meetups and other public events bringing together the board game community.
Crawl Board Games was founded in 2019 by husband and wife Michele Prandi and Andrew Ressler. Both Michelle and Andrew enjoyed board games from a young age and they played board games together in the early days of their relationship. They turned their love of board games into a hobby and a business.
In addition to their Meetups where locals can gather to play board games together, they also host events at conventions such as the board game event at Florida Supercon in 2022. “What makes Crawl stand out from other meetups is the care we take to make sure all our attendees are playing games and having fun…we want to make sure everyone has a group to play in, the rules of the game are understood by the players, and if it’s not working out we throw that game back on the table and try a different one.”
Their motto is simple and reflects the fact that everyone, no matter their interests, can find a board game they deeply enjoy, “there is a game for you somewhere in our pile of games!”
Crawl Board Games brings a variety of games to their events ranging from simple party games like Werewolf to more complicated games. According to Michelle, their most popular game is Azul. In Azul, you use colorful plastic tiles to create a mosaic on the board and earn points.
The majority of the gamers their events attract are between the ages of 25 and 35, but they have participants as young as their early 20s and up to their 70s. Even in the wake of cellphones and social media, board games give people of all ages a break from the monotony of screen time to enjoy themselves and interact with others.
Andrew explains that, unlike digital games, board games display the game creators’ ideas in-person for people to experience in a tactile way. Board games also require other players to be physically in the room with one another, giving participants an opportunity to connect and develop relationships.
Crawl Board Games hosts a Monday Night Meetup every week at Gulf Stream Brewing Co. in Fort Lauderdale. Attendees can enjoy a craft beer or cider from Gulf Stream Brewing, grab a delicious pizza at Pizzeria Magaddino inside, and enjoy hours of tabletop gaming. They also host a monthly Meetup at Flynns Gaming Arcade in Margate.
Since they started hosting the Meetup, Michele and Andrew have developed a tight-knit circle of friends who also enjoy all things tabletop. “Board games are a great way to interact with humans and they work well at Meetups because you can go out to make friends, but have the game as a social buffer rather than just try to curate a conversation. Board games help conversation happen organically through play.” Many of their regulars have formed their own social circles with regular participants, too.
Cassidy Webb is a Texas native and South Florida transplant. She grew up just outside of Dallas, TX, and moved to South Florida four years ago. She now considers Fort Lauderdale her home.
Cassidy is the project manager at a small digital marketing company and she enjoys freelance writing on the side. In her free time, you can catch her exploring local parks or taking long walks through the neighborhood with her dog, Bella.