How to Get People to Play Your Games
If people are under 30, just ask, interested/curious people will probably dive in. The rest of this post is not applicable to this situation.
If people are over 30, just ask, but your mileage may vary. Good luck. This is what I'm going to spend some time on in this post.
Reaching 30 is a defining milestone in peoples' lives. This is when many are married or about to head there quite soon. They may have been out of college for a while; maybe locked in to a decent career path that is becoming more demanding, and/or already have a kid or two. Priorities have changed since the early to mid 20s, and free time starts to become a precious resource for everyone. Getting to bed by 10 seems a lot more attractive than hanging out at a nightclub or party until 12. This just gets worse heading into the 40s. I'm starting to love being in bed by 9. I never go to shows anymore.
The point is, it's not that people don't want to play or hang out. It's just that after a long day of dealing with situations at work, dealing with traffic, dealing with demanding little humans when you get home, being there for a burnt-out spouse or partner, and getting to bed at a decent hour means carving out time for leisure activities like board games is tough.
There are exceptions to this, of course. There are people who have fewer domestic responsibilities, and can dedicate more time to hobbies. I know I'm broad-stroke generalizing here, this is just coming from my experience.
So what do you do when you have a game collection that is getting unplayed? Here are three strategies:
1. An intimate social gathering.
This great for two couples. Make a weekend date at someone's home and cook dinner together. Load the the kids' tablets up with videos of people playing Minecraft, whilst trying not to think about how much screen time they are logging this evening. Sure, with people new to modern games, you'll probably end up playing something like Codenames a lot at first, but if everyone is enjoying themselves and up for it, you can start introducing some different and more strategic games in the future.
2. A one-time game event gathering.
This is when you want to bring out the big boxes and get people together to play a game that would never see the light of day at Katy's baby shower. Take a not-often-played game you enjoy from your collection, make a Facebook event, and invite people:
"Hey, I'm hosting a Twilight Imperium day in April!"
"Caverna next week, who's in?"
"I just got Rising Sun, who wants to try it out?"
A good formula for when you should announce a game event. Take how many hours you anticipate the game to last - that's how many weeks before the event you should announce to get buy-ins from people. Nobody (30 or above) is gonna play Twilight Imperium with you this Saturday, but maybe they'll be up for some Scythe or Blood Rage in a couple of weeks.
This is also a good test to see if a new game should stay in your collection, if you and others are enjoying the experience, then it's worth hanging on to. If not, maybe it's time to sell. We only have so much free time on this planet.
3. A steady monthly (or whenever) invite.
This method lives or dies with the host being on top of this and reminding folks what's going on. Nobody will remember. If it's an open invite, this also requires a fairly wide invite pool because most everyone you invite won't make it. Another challenge with the open invite is the "what day is good?" conundrum, and the more people there are, the trickier it gets to lock a day. It's usually best to keep something that works for the host and a consistent day so others in the future can try to make it.
However, if it is a targeted invite, this can make campaign games like Pandemic Legacy or Gloomhaven that require commitments to playing multiple sessions feasible to play. Targeted invites are great for those who have already expressed interest in playing a certain game. You still have to deal with the "good day" issue, but it's more manageable.