A party for big and small: how to throw a video game challenge

December 20 2010 |
Mario

The Golden Mario Trophy with its vegan cupcake minions

Video games long ago left the realm of just-for-kids and many Fully Grown Adults maintain healthy gaming habits. With user-friendly systems like the Wii and straightforward games like Rock Band, planning a party around a game makes a fun night no matter your attendees. Read on and plan your throwdown.


My friends recently threw a MarioKart Beatdown and challenged opponents to a winner-take-all tourney with pride – and a sweet trophy – on the line. It happened in an office, but would work even better in your home.

The basics are easy: Gather a group, select teams, let the best man win. But you don't want to have people over just to play video games, and it's easy to take a party from good to great. Here's what we did for a fun challenge.

How to Throw This Party

First, when to throw this party. The beautiful thing about a gaming challenge is that it works equally well for 9-year-olds as twentysomethings – and even when mixing the two! Maybe this is a good choice for an upcoming birthday, or a time for older siblings to mesh with youngers.

Scott & CharlioThe key to any theme party is psychological. You aren't just throwing a party. You're planning performance art. You're hosting a battle royale. Put on your ringmaster hat and make decisions that fit your party's mentality – starting with invitations that set the tone. Make it clear that this competition is serious business. Outline the terms of competition and the price of defeat in addition to the Who What Where. Remember to invite an audience!

Select a game. You don't have to use MarioKart. There are a litany of games which could work. What's the best dynamic for your guests? If small children are playing, it might be helpful to choose a game where adults could help (Mario Party, for one). Teens would dig a night of Rock Band – the band with the most points on a song wins.

Feed your crew. We had brightly frosted vegan cupcakes rocking MarioKart toppers. Cupcake toppers are a simple way to theme food – and are often available on Etsy if you don't want to make them.

Costumes are Fun Costumes rock. Dressing up can mean going all out, or providing competitors with simple props. Getting into character doesn't have to mean spending money and buying licensed gear. You could make construction paper Mario 'staches with the fam, or apply Rock Band-appropriate temporary tats to get in spirit.

Employ an announcer to impartially announce the rules, remind participants what's at stake and encourage the competitive vibe. The announcer should invite participants to inspect controllers, limber up, and talk smack. It's entertaining for audience members and psychs up your competitors.

It doesn't matter what the prize is, but winning is nothing without a trophy. With a Mario figure and two cans of spray paint we crafted up a one-of-a-kind trophy. Prizes don't need to be golden vinyl idols. Small kids? Your prize could be as simple as the best, biggest, most-Mario cookie of the bunch – specially decorated for the winner. What about a fun privilege (good for kids and adults, right?), or a paper certificate? You could even use the battle to settle a bet between teams.

Mario Trophy Collage

Whatever your plan, guests love a creative party with a new twist. Practice good sportsmanship and have fun!


The Meat of the Beatdown

The boys during the meat of the MarioKart Beatdown


Thanks to Amanda Morrow for party photos and cupcakes, Scott Kubie for trophy how-to shots, and the BitMethod team for the party. See more photos from our party here.

  1. we played Mario Kart through New Years Eve last/this year. it was AWESOME.
    ETA: would have been awesomer if i'd thought to make a trophy though. This is why we need you!!!

  2. Awesome! I have a question: how many people did you invite per computer/controller? I'm assuming you need quite some to make it interesting for a longer period of time. What did the guests do when it wasn't their turn (except for cheering)?

    • Dunno if this is for me or vacantmouse, but I'll respond anyway. 🙂

      For US, we were having a pretty specific event — if I remember correctly, there was actually a competition to determine who the teams' two competitors would be. This would be perfect to make it more interactive for more people — invite as many as you'd like and set up a bracket championships. Non-playing guests can eat cupcakes, drink beer, cheer, and trashtalk.

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