A few years ago, my friends and I took part in a weekly themed activity night. Each week for three years, we all got together for a few hours of fun.

Theme Nights were budget-friendly affairs, designed to offer a mix of food, games and entertainment and most importantly, a break from the real world. In this post I will explain how to create a series of retro games nights, with a few photos (captured during 2015) to illustrate the events.



Retro games night

Gaming Night 5

Throughout the course of the three years of Theme Nights, if ever we were pushed for time, we would often rely on one of two default themes. One of these default themes was a Film Night – the easiest night of all to arrange as it would simply involve us all getting together to watch a movie. The other default night was Gaming Night!

But don’t be fooled into thinking that Gaming Night was just a case of popping a game on and playing it for a couple of hours, because it wasn’t. While Gaming Night was often a default night for us, we still put a little thought into the occasion – and you can too!

Below are some examples of our different retro games nights.



Retro Sonic the Hedgehog night

One of our Gaming Nights was a Sonic the Hedgehog-themed evening which involved various Sonic-themed challenges across different consoles. A time-trial on the Sega MegaDrive, a race on the GameCube, and various other challenges that allowed us to play a succession of Sonic games.

This evening also included some (basic) grab-and-go food, perfect for a pit stop between games. The food included a few embellishments to connect to the Sonic theme.

As you can see, as we themed our night around a gaming icon from our childhood, the food for the evening pretty much resembled a school packed lunch (crisps, sandwiches etc). You’ll also notice the ‘ring’s and (chaos) ’emeralds’ that were added to remain in keeping with the Sonic theme.

Yeah, these were onion rings and fruit gum sweets. Simple, yet effective, right?

OK, so the food is basic, but that was the point! We wanted the night to have a retro feel, so we kept things simple, with food that we ate as kids while playing on our consoles after school!



Retro Gamesmaster challenge night

One week we held a GamesMaster Challenge night – whereby we recreated some of the player challenges from classic Channel 4 gaming show, GamesMaster. This was a week in which we played the likes of Disney’s DuckTales and Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES, with players competing against each other to complete certain tasks.

This night was easy to set up, and simply involved us coming up with different challenges across a series of games, or taking inspiration directly from GamesMaster!

To enhance the night, we also watched an episode (or two) of GamesMaster (all available on YouTube) and had some food and drink.



A retro games quiz night

And on the occasion when we decided to develop the Gaming Nights into something a little different there was The Big Gaming Quiz Night. This mixed console gaming with some good old fashioned quizzing.

As you can see from the photo below, this also included a miniature Mario Kart race, played out on the living room floor! I swear there was a lot of cheating going on in this round.

This evening was super simple to arrange. All that was required were a few quiz rounds (Q&As, a mini-Mario Kart challenge etc), mixed in with rounds involving head-to-head console battles (a Mortal Kombat session etc).

Once again, we threw in some food, some drink, and without much effort (or much money) we had an evening of entertainment.

The thing about Gaming Nights is that although they were really simple to put together, we always tried to give them a new twist. And as you can see, they are easy to replicate!



How to put together your own retro gaming night

If you want to put together your own retro gaming night, then take inspiration from the ideas above. Create some gaming challenges, devise a gaming quiz, and put on some simple food inspired by a games character!

For example:

  • Create a 30-minute quiz with some questions about gaming
  • Set up some head-to-head console challenges and mix them in with the quiz
  • Put out some themed food (with a few decorations)

All of these things can really make a simple games night into an awesome event. It can also be the precursor to a retro games party (if you get your friends to arrive in fancy dress) or it can be reworked for a Zoom party.

Now, how simple is this to set up?



Thanks for taking the time to read this post on It’s A Stampede! For more posts, check out one of the recommended reads below.

Read more: