Boards and Bites

This week I wrote a story for my college paper, The Projector, on game board cafés in Winnipeg. I had a fun time writing this article because I was able to learn about the growing trend of game cafés and even try out some of the games.

I went to Across the Board located in the Exchange District to see what the trend was all about and I had a great time. Across the Board has walls lined with over 800 games to choose from and super tasty food that is all local. Some of the local fare includes beer from microbreweries in Manitoba, bread products from Tall Grass Prairie, and baked goods from Lilac Bakery. Even the tables that you sit and play games at are built out of Manitoba oak by a local contractor.

You can visit the café to dine, play games or both, and $5 a person gives you access to as many games as you want to play. Across the Board sells games for purchase if you end up liking one in particular. Reservations can be made online at or on their Facebook page

Check out my article here, or read it below.

Taking a break at board game cafés


Ryan Levesque, Nathan Getty and Jordan Toews meet up once a month at Across the Board Game Café to drink some beer and play board games. THE PROJECTOR/Madelaine Lapointe

In a society where many rely on social media to communicate with others, a couple of establishments are promoting traditional communication with the help of board games.

“Face-to-face interactions are lost in our society,” said Catherine Deveau, a server at Across the Board Game Café. “It’s good that there’s a place like this where you can take all those distractions away and just focus on the people in your life.”

Across the Board — located in the Exchange District — and Osborne Village bar After Dark Lounge are Winnipeg’s two tabletop gaming restaurants and just some of the many that have opened across Canada in the past two years.

Part of the popularity of game board cafes is the communal aspect, Deveau says.

“I’ve seen tables come in where there are 85-year-old grandmas playing with their grandchildren,” said Deveau. “You can learn a game at any age, and in a society where people rely so much on technology, it’s nice to actually see people spending quality time together.”

Nathan Getty, a recent network technology graduate at RRC, says places like Across the Board are great for catching up with friends.

Ryan Levesque and Nathan Getty waiting to make their next move in Sorry! at Across the Board Game Café. THE PROJECTOR/ Madelaine Lapointe

“I like to come here once a month with my friends because they have a ridiculous amount of different board games,” said Getty. “Not only do they have an awesome atmosphere, but they are licensed.”

Scott Nicholson is a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University in Kitchener, Ont. He also runs the school’s game design and development program. In a Jan. 13 interview with Metro News Canada, Nicholson said board games thrive in today’s society because they rely on reality.

“We’re physical beings and we like touch and we like that tangibility, especially when engaging in shared activities,” Nicholson told Metro News Canada. “Handing someone cards, rolling dice, moving pieces on a board — these bring that game to life in a way that never happens if it’s just on the screen.”

While both cafés offer food and drink, Deveau describes After Dark Lounge as more of a social setting.

“They have TVs and live music while here there are fewer distractions,” said Deveau. “It depends what kind of environment you prefer. It’s just different.”

Baden Gaeke Franz, game master of Across the Board, said the business reflects the enthusiasm here in Winnipeg.

“We’re fully booked most weekends and evenings to the point where we have to turn people away at the door,” said Gaeke Franz. “In a month we get 2,000 to 3,000 people playing games. And that doesn’t even include people just coming in for a coffee or meal.”

Across the Board Game Café is one of two tabletop game venues in Winnipeg. The restaurant and coffee house offers more than 800 different board games to play. THE PROJECTOR/ Madelaine Lapointe




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