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Nothing adds to enjoyment of a new or remodeled home like a game room. No matter where it is located in your home, a game room can provide your children and guests with a place to relax and fellowship with one another.
However, a game room is little more than an empty entertainment space without any games present. Modern game rooms have a number of options available on this front, ranging from analog classics to digital favorites.
When it comes down to it, you’ll need to eventually decide which games you’ll want to populate your new room with.
To make your selection easier, we’ve created this collection of games that people of all ages can enjoy. From this list, you can select a handful of options that meet the entertainment demands of your family and friends.
In time, you’ll see that all of these games have the capacity to thrill your household members and guests for hours on end.
10 Must-Have Games for a Game Room
Without further ado, let’s jump into the list.
A pool table is always a solid option for your home’s game room. Pool has long been a mainstay of in-home entertainment centers, not least because it is a game that can be played daily while still improving one’s own mastery.
To that end, a pool table has a great advantage over other options because it can be used alone or with a partner (or even in teams, if you have a ground of interested participants).
That’s because a standard billiards table allows you to play a variety of what are known as “cue sports.” These include standard pool (also known as 8-ball), as well as other games like 9-ball, blackball, cutthroat, cribbage, and more.
Also, despite common misconceptions, pool tables can actually be obtained for a relatively affordable price these days.
These table, ball, and cue sets are often plenty durable as well so that they can withstand years of wear from your younger family members. However, if you want to maintain that classic refinement of high-class pool, high-end tables are also readily available to average consumers who are willing to pay a little extra.
Keep in mind spacing if you decide to invest in a pool table, though.
These tables take up a sizable footprint and require a certain amount of vertical and horizontal bumper space (due to the need to draw back the long cue stick when playing. As such, it is advised that a pool table be given a section of your game room of its own.
#2: Air Hockey
Air hockey has also remained a popular game room option, especially in households with young children. That’s because this table-based activity only requires two players and very little set up. All you have to do is turn on the table’s internal fan and you’re ready to hit the game’s flat puck back and forth on its low-friction surface.
Playing a round in this game need not take long, either, as you can play based upon a pre-set number of goals.
As noted, this game’s minimal amount of set-up makes it ideal for self-facilitated entertainment time. To that end, young kids (who are tall enough to reach the table) can play this game with ease, so long as they are familiarized with the simple rules and mechanics. Air hockey table play doesn’t necessarily require supervising, either, due to durability of the table, pucks, and paddles.
Placing an air hockey table is not all that difficult. Their dimensions are typically similar to that of a rectangular coffee table, but at about twice the height. Also, air hockey tables are used such that both players stand at each end opposite one another. As such, an air hockey table can be placed with one its long ends against a wall without inhibiting its proper use at all.
Darts are a game room option that some homeowners are too willing to dismiss out of hand.
After all, there’s still a widespread assumption that darts and its projectile-based gameplay is too dangerous for administered play among young players. But in truth, soft-tipped darts and electric boards are commonplace today.
True sharp darts and cork boards are still available, of course, if you are looking for a more classic style of play.
Electronic dart boards in particular provide a lot of options when it comes to entertainment.
These boards are often programmed with a variety of gameplay modes, allowing you and your competitors to test your throwing skills on several different fronts. These boards also tend to keep score for you, so no one has to sit out or keep total of their own score.
When it comes to placement, dart boards are nice because they don’t actually require permanent installation. All you need to do is ensure that you have a space that is long enough to allow for full play.
Then, between matches, the board and darts can be stored away if desired. Otherwise, other game room fixtures can also be placed into that throwing space, so long as they can be moved again when it is time to play darts.
If you’re really looking to bring a retro appeal into your home’s game room, try adding a pinball table or two.
Even though this analog arcade game has nearly vanished from the popular eye, family members and guests of all ages still love to play the silver ball. That being said, pinball has been going through a bit of a revival recently.
As such, you may not have to search far and wide to find an affordable table.
Traditionally, pinball has been seen as a solitary pursuit.
However, many tables also include a built-in high score system that allows your friends and children to compete against each other for your game room’s pinball crown. Also, many tables can be modified to forgo the need of payment. That way, your guests can enjoy these retro entertainment cabinets without needing to bring along quarters.
Pinball tables are moderately long, and some are even fairly tall. As such, it’s important to measure your intended installation space before investing in one table or another.
However, if you have the space and budget, two or more tables can often be installed beside one another.
#5: Foosball (Table Football)
Here’s another game room option that far too many folks overlook – foosball. Better known as table football around the world, this table-based game involves two competing players spinning a series of “players” connected to horizontal poles in order to push a ball into an opponent’s goal.
In this way, foosball simulates the fast pace of real soccer while keeping the action contained to a single indoor area.
Chances are, if you ever watched the TV show Friends, that you saw the main characters enjoying a round of foosball every now and then. Despite how that show may make it look, this game is actually fairly easy to learn.
All a player needs to do is keep their eye on the ball while manipulating their assigned rods (and the attached players in turn). As you quickly learn, strategy is the name of the game when it comes to successfully scoring on your opponent’s goal and defending your own.
Foosball tables do require some spacing considerations.
This is because their horizontal rods cannot be removed, requiring some buffer space to prevent folks from running into them when the table is not in use. This can often be accomplished by setting a foosball table in a space of its own within the game room.
If you are wondering whether you should get foosball or air hockey, read this detailed comparison.
#6: Pop-a-Shot Basketball Arcade Game
Pop-a-Shot basketball games have been a mainstay in commercial entertainment centers for decades, dating back to the arcade era. Though they are less common out in public today, many folks still enjoy the thrill of competing to see who can hit the most free throws in a set amount of time.
This game makes it easy for everyone to play, too, given its compact size, height, and ball size.
In truth, Pop-a-Shot is just one brand of these arcade basketball games that has become well-known to consumers. There are other brands of these pop-up indoor free throw shooting games, all of which offer a chance for outdoor-style activities indoors. You can even build your own Pop-a-Shot.
These units usually keep score for you, as well, thus ensuring your friends and guests always know the winner after each round.
Keep in mind, though, that this kind of game can get a bit rowdy. If your game room isn’t very large, you might run into issues with spacing as well. That’s because these games require a fair bit of lateral space to operate properly.
#7: Ping Pong
Many people dream of having their own ping pong or table tennis table in their home. If you’re constructing a game room, that’s a great opportunity to grab one of your own. These tables take up a fair bit of space, that much is true. But with just some paddles and balls, these tables come to life with competition that players of all ages can enjoy.
In terms of learning to play, most folks don’t need much schooling.
Once you get a handle for the paddle, most players (even kids) are able to hit the ball over the net and past their opponent to score. Over time, young and old players alike can grow their proficiency with this sport as well, even within the confines of their home.
Also, how many other Olympic sports can you play in your own basement?
Spacing can be essential when procuring a table tennis table, however. Often, this game requires the player to reach vertically and horizontally when trying to hit the moving ping pong ball. As such, you should ensure there is plenty of clearance on all sides of a ping pong table.
If you are undecided between ping pong and pool, also check this article.
#8: Retro Video Games
All of the previous game room options might physically wear you out after a while. That’s why it is always good to have some more relaxed options in your game room.
One way to do this is to have TV hooked up to a few retro video game consoles. Kids and adults alike can enjoy these together, especially parents who want to introduce their kids to the kind of games they played when they were young.
When it comes to retro video gaming, you have a lot of options to choose from. If you have the resources and the space, a full arcade cabinet is always a big hit.
Otherwise, investing in TV and a console or two (such as a NES, N64, PS1, or Dreamcast) is always a great option as well. Often, you can pick up some of the best retro video games online by shopping around on eBay, as well.
If you’re having trouble filling a small space within your game room, this is a great option.
Between a TV, a TV cabinet, and the appropriate consoles, all the proper components can be comfortably fit into a compact corner. Such a space can also be easily expanded for regular TV watching as well with a cable hookup.
We’ve covered a lot of arcade favorites so far. So, it would be a shame to skip over skeeball, which has been a mainstay on boardwalks for decades.
This game is also very easy to learn, even for young or inexperienced players. All you have to do is roll the balls down the cabinet’s extended lane and try to score points by landing those balls in numbered rings.
Skeeball is a great option for folks who want a good competitive sport in their game room. Skeeball’s rules and structure lend it well to play with teams or even between two competitors. Either way, players can race to get the highest score or attempt to reach a pre-set score before their opponent.
This game can even be played “Price is Right” style where players compete to hit certain scores per round without going over.
Compared to most other options in this collection, skeeball can be considered to be one of the most space intensive. In other words, its long length does not always make it conducive to in-home installation. However, if you are building your game room from scratch, you can easily structure the room to fit in a skeeball lane.
Alternatively, you can opt for one of its minimized alternatives.
#10: Poker / Card Game Table
Finally, if you need a more flexible option to fill out your game room, consider bringing in a poker table. These are one of the most versatile pieces of furniture available for a game room, especially if you and your guest enjoy playing card games regularly.
In many ways, a poker table is a must if you and a group of friends regularly enjoy a game night at your house.
Along those same lines, a poker table can be used for more than just playing card games. In fact, these tables are a perfect place to play board games with an assorted group of friends. Also, if you partake in table-top roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons, this kind of table can provide you with plenty of space to spread out your papers and roll your dice.
A poker table can also be installed according to the requirements of your game room.
If you have space for a larger, more permanent table, then feel free to invest in something solid and lasting. However, if you want to keep an open-concept for your game room, then there are plenty of excellent fold-up options available.
Have you chosen which of these numerous options you’re going to add to your game room yet?
Even if you only have a short list, you are well on the way to making a fantastic in-home entertainment space. With just a few of these game room installations, you’ll surely be able to entertain guests and family members during any season.
Don’t be afraid to try out a whole bunch of these game options, as well. You never know which ones will become the new favorites at your house.
Also, if you can’t decide between a pool and a ping pong table, check this article.