Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Your turn


WORLD Radio - Your turn

Patrons of a unique cafe bond over board games

Game Point Cafe Photo by Jenny Rough

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, March 15th.

Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.

Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. 

Coming next on The World and Everything in It: boardgames. 

COVID kept us locked up for way too much of the year 2020. To pass the time, board games became more popular for home-bound families. Now that people are gathering socially again, the board game boom has kept on going even outside the home.

WORLD reporter Jenny Rough recently visited a board-game cafe.

JENNY ROUGH, REPORTER: On a Friday night, I met my brother and his friend at Game Point Cafe in downtown Nashville.

GREG: Hey.

ROUGH: Hi. How are you?

At first glance, the spot looks like a cafe. Place your order at the countertop.

GREG: I got pretzel bites.

Find a seat at a table.


But the tables aren’t just for food. They’re for dice, cards, pawns, chits, cubes, markers, spinners, pegs. The cafe has a library full of hundreds of games. We start with Azul.

LEON: Do you want to be the black, the gray, the white or the brown?

ROUGH: I’ll be white.

Azul is a tile laying game.


RICK KEULER: Azul, it’s just so pretty! The tiles themselves are super pretty.

Rick Keuler is the co-owner of Game Point.

KEULER: They’re so tactile.

Use the tiles to create patterns and score points.

KEULER: The gameplay is easy to understand but is difficult to do well. I think that's kind of the hallmark of a great game.

Keuler first fell in love with board games when he worked in a big law firm.

KEULER: And my wife said I needed to get a hobby. And that hobby became strategy board games.

He and his wife hosted game nights at home. It grew to about 40 friends. Then, at a board game convention, he met Bob Berstein. Bernstein wanted to host board game nights too, but in a public setting.

KEULER: So I was like, well, what about a board game cafe? And that's how we came up with the plan to kind of marry this idea of community gaming with, with a cafe space.

Game Point opened in 2017. It has a tranquil vibe. Mellow background music. Players gather around tables stacking sets, shuffling cards, and moving pieces.

KEULER: I mean the real goal for the business was to create a community space where people could interact together and have a good time face-to-face. So it's just a great way to have quiet social time that gets rid of the distractions.

A.J. Porfirio agrees.

AJ PORFIRIO: It gets you off the device, right? Phones have consumed us as a society.

Porfirio is a board game designer in Middle Tennessee.

PORFIRIO: It’s just one other way to have a human connection with people. For many people, it’s refreshing. And I think that’s why our hobby has seen a huge growth.

He’s been to Game Point to demo some of the games he’s created. Like Popcorn Dice. My 6-year-old niece’s favorite.

ROUGH: Put the dice in the bucket and shake ‘em up.

ELENA: I’ll shake it up first.

The bucket: a red-and-white striped container. The dice inside: the popcorn. The goal: To roll as many “pops” as you can.


A light game. But many games at the cafe are rule-intensive heavy games. Like Twilight Imperium. It takes 8 hours to play. Not counting the time it takes to parse the rulebook!

One group of friends at the cafe had been on their way to Top Golf when they saw the sign for Game Point and changed their plans.

PLAYER 1: This is our first time here. We walked in, we were instantly like, “We like this!”

They’re playing Settlers of Catan.

PLAYER 2: This is by far my favorite board game. City domination type games where you’re competing against other players for limited space on a board. 

PLAYER 3: Very competitive group here. [Laughter]

But that rivalry might be why some people steer clear of board games.

PORFIRIO: These are people who may not like heavy competition or “take that” kind of games where I’m doing something to directly hinder my opponent. For some people they don’t like that feeling that that gives them.

Board game designer Porfirio says people who don’t like competitive board games might discover they enjoy cooperative games.

PORFIRIO: So if you want to play a game and experience the table working together as opposed to “how do I outscore my opponents,” then cooperative games are a great option for that.

Next up at Game Point: The Crew. It’s a trick-taking card game. Like Spades or Hearts. Except all the players, the crew, work together to help each other win the tricks they need. The game has a space mission theme.

GREG: We are all on this mission together. We either all succeed, or we all fail.

Like most games, it takes practice to learn.

GREG: Well, we lost.

ROUGH: Oh, wait. Wait, wait, wait. I thought you played the nine.

GREG: No, I played the six.

ROUGH: Well, to me it looks like a nine because it’s upside-down.

GREG: That’s why there’s a dot.

But before long, we have the hang of it.


GREG: Yay! We did it.

Laughter. High spirits.

Playing games is a fun but somewhat trivial experience. Yet for generations, it’s been a way for families and friends to be together and enjoy conversation. Keuler says if you haven’t found a game you like yet, don’t give up. Whether it’s a word game like Letter Jam, a dexterity game like Jenga, or a memory game like Chicken Cha Cha Cha, there’s a huge variety.

KEULER: And that's kind of my favorite thing about the cafe is just listening to what people tell me they like and helping them find a game that's going to be fun for them. That they're going to want to play with their family over and over and make some memories, around that.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Jenny Rough in Nashville, Tennessee.

ROUGH: Do I have to play a rocket?

GREG: Yes.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


Please wait while we load the latest comments...