By ASHLEY CENTERS
For Inland 360
In 2006, the once-active and busy Sherri Haight was looking for something to fill a void. Her first husband’s recent death and her own declining health and inability to continue working left her feeling lonely and depressed. Her doctors recommended she play video games, and while she enjoyed them, they didn’t provide a desperately missing sense of community.
Haight started Palouse Board Gamers shortly after. She bartered some pottery, swords and miscellaneous other items for an armful of games with a vendor at RadCon, a science fiction/fantasy convention held each year in Pasco.
“That’s what we played for a long time,” Haight said. “My games were the club games. Now, however, there’s a lot of people and a lot of participation.
“Every week, there’s a mishmash of different games. No one has to have any games — there’s plenty of games to choose from. In fact, some people say we’ve got too many games to choose from. We need a game to pick what game we’re going to play,” Haight said.
Her board game collection contains approximately 400 titles. Some of her favorites include Backgammon, Parcheesi, Settlers of Catan, Lotus and Pandemic. She tries to give games away to her grandchildren and other people as she gets more, she said. She has even given them away to coffee shops and the library in the past.
Palouse Board Gamers participants meet Friday nights at Shari’s Restaurant in Moscow and sometimes play until closing time at 1 a.m. Haight said attendance varies between five and 30 people each week. Participants have included high schoolers, university staff and faculty, graduate students and townspeople of all ages.
Palouse Board Gamers’ email list includes nearly 180 people. Most of the club’s networking is done via word of mouth, social media or websites such as boardgamegeek.com and indiegamealliance.com. Haight said it’s not uncommon for out-of-town visitors, who’ve found Palouse Board Gamers via one of the above methods, to drop in on a Friday night to play.
“One of the things that I am constantly hearing from people,” Haight said, “is that our group is a very good group, and what I’m hearing is we have a safe place people can feel free to be themselves in without judgment. There aren’t any cliques. There’s nothing beyond your standard personality from day to day. … People come and they play games.”
Palouse Board Gamers helps with several events each year, including Safari Pearl’s New Years’ board game event and the upcoming Vandal Overnight event, in which volunteers set up a table of games for participants to choose from, offering playing advice and tutorials.
“I love the board games, but I love being with the people most,” Haight said. “When we do the Vandal Overnight, or when we run a game library at other events, I’ll see a bunch of people playing a game they didn’t know of that I taught them how to play. … That’s pretty cool.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Palouse Board Gamers
WHEN: 6 p.m. Fridays
WHERE: Shari’s Cafe banquet room, 121 Warbonnet Drive, Moscow