The thing with work is that even when you love your job, it’s work. I love editing with a shameless passion (and I will throw down over Oxford commas and dangling modifiers), but day after day of the same thing, no matter how enjoyable, can become tiresome. Luckily, I work for an awesome company, and we’re more like a team than an office. And, although I’m no expert on sports, I’m fairly sure teams generally like to play. To boost our spirits and give our busy brains a break during the summer heat, last week the Content Runner team got together and had a game night. We broke out a few of our favorite games and gathered around our conference table, and geeked out.

It's important for a conference room to have storm windows.

From left to right, Larry, Ryan, Andrew and Chad contemplate their next move in Settlers of Catan.

I’m going to share some pictures of our team slaying each other in Settlers of Catan and destroying each other (mostly destroying me, let’s be honest) in Magic: The Gathering. But I also want to make a case for the idea that a little cinnamon whisky, some beer, and some goofy games are the best tools around for keeping your coworkers happy and helping everyone feel the team spirit.

Games and Drinks = Yes

I’m a huge fan of a good gin and tonic. (With or without a lime. Actually, with or without the tonic. Mmm, gin.) And my coworkers enjoy, variously: a cold beer, a nice glass of wine, lightly flavored water, and cinnamon-flavored whisky (burns so good). And nothing makes the wicked glee of a round of Cards Against Humanity or a desperate gambit for perfect strategic village location in Settlers of Catan quite as much fun as a little liquid courage. But it’s not just about drinking—indeed, not everyone at Content Runner cares to drink. The point isn’t the alcohol; it’s gathering around the same table and spending time together outside of the traditional work setting.

The red/green deck is to be feared. FEAR ITS MIGHT.

Matt may look innocent enough, but his enemies tremble before his mighty army.

The kind of camaraderie that grows when you completely decimate your opponents’ line of defense in Magic: The Gathering has little to do with what’s in the glasses at the players’ elbows. It has everything to do with getting to know each other as people—even as friends—and not just as the people behind all the other desks in your office. The reason for a happy hour isn’t getting toasted with your boss (though that’s pretty fun, too): it’s socializing. Besides, it’s always best to have a designated driver to make sure everyone gets home safe.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Nerds

A lot of people put a great deal of effort into being professional and presenting themselves in a specific way at work. And that’s great. A-plus. But when it comes time to socialize, it can be tough to put aside the formality you adopt in the office and interact with your coworkers in a more genuine way. Alcohol is one remedy, but for a whole host of reasons it’s not a perfect solution. The surprising option that turned out much better than expected? Ask everyone to bring their favorite game with them to work, and then play them.

The gin gets its own mention. Because gin.

Clockwise from bottom left: Larry (represented here by his hair and right hand), Ryan, Andrew, Chad, delicious gin and Felicia. Competition is heating up.

It turns out that when you wear your geek heart on your sleeve you completely bypass any reticence you might have felt about hanging out with your coworkers. (Sample conversations: “OH MAN, YOU BROUGHT MAGIC CARDS? What kind of deck do you play with?” “No way, I love Catan. Have you played the Seafarers expansion? This one time I was playing with my neighbors, and…” “Holy cow, are we actually going to play Cards Against Humanity with our boss? That’s… interesting. [nervous laughter]”) When you can bond over mutually enjoyable activities, particularly ones that wouldn’t normally be described as “professional,” it’s much easier to relax and have some fun. Playing games with each other was a great way for the Content Runner team to lay our cards on the table, both figuratively and literally, and have some good clean fun together.

If you’re hoping to liven up your office, try throwing a happy hour. And if you’re hoping to go from coworkers and colleagues to teammates and buddies, try throwing a nerdy one.