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Is Scrabble the new Lizard Lounge? Board game rental site sees spike in student customers in Bristol

In efforts to adapt to the new pub-less and club-less Covid way of life, many have picked up new hobbies and social activities – sewing, reading, baking, and more. For Bristol students, its board games.

By Emma Love, Third Year Politics and Sociology

In efforts to adapt to the new pub-less and club-less Covid way of life, many have picked up new hobbies and social activities – sewing, reading, baking, and more. For Bristol students, its board games. Board game rental site Lazy Horse Games has seen a surge in subscriptions across the UK throughout lockdown, with popularity rising particularly in Bristol.

Board games can be an expensive purchase, and a novelty one too - you might find yourself shelling out £15 for a game, only for it to end up gathering dust at the back of the cupboard after the novelty has worn off. Founders Nick Hanington and Chantal Verlinden started Lazy Horse Games last year in an effort to solve this problem.

Speaking to Epigram, Chantal said: ‘Board games can cost a fair amount of money which would often stop us from buying new ones - that's where the idea of a rental option came from.

Epigram / Chantal Verlinden

‘We then tested the concept on friends and realised that lots of them actually really enjoy playing them, even those who were new to the hobby or thought board games were "too geeky" or "too boring" for them. This made us think it's worth giving it a go as we thought there was a gap in the market for it.’

The majority of customers are between the ages of 20 and 45, but at the beginning of the 2020/21 academic year, the subscription service saw a rise in student customers: ‘We did see an increase in students joining us around October time, which again makes sense if you include the COVID factor - if you're stuck at home with your flatmates, all of a sudden playing board games has replaced going out to the pub.’

The shortest subscription offered by the company, three months of board game rental, comes to £15 per month. Longer subscriptions offer the opportunity to save money, with the 12 month subscription saving 20 percent. The subscription uses a credit-based system - customers are given four credits per month, which can be used to rent between one and four board games.

Games available from Lazy Horse Games. | Epigram / Nick Hanington

The service offers a range of board games – mini games, small games, standard games, and premium games. Whilst the mini games will only set you back one credit, premium games will use all four monthly credits. If a board game you desire is not on offer, the company are open to requests.

The company is partnered with carbon-reduction subscription service Ecologi, with all game deliveries and returns being carbon neutral. Lazy Horse’s workforce is carbon positive, too, meaning that the carbon footprint of each employee is offset, including emissions from their home, personal travel, holidays, food, hobbies and more. Working with Ecologi, the company has offset 18.16 tonnes of CO2. This partnership has also seen the planting of 229 trees in areas such as Mozambique, Nicaragua, and Madagascar.

Lazy Horse’s customers appear to have a sense of humour, with one of the most popular games earlier this year being ‘Pandemic’. Players work as a team of experts who are tasked with preventing the world from succumbing to a deadly pandemic – not sure the UK Government would be particularly good at that one!

The number one game of recent months has been the ‘Unlock!’ series, which involves players working through several escape room scenarios. Games such as these lend themselves particularly well to the concept of a rental service – once the scenarios are completed, players are unlikely to play through them again as they already know the answers. Using Lazy Horse Games, customers can return the game and swap it for another one.

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With things looking pretty quiet for the next couple of months, now might be the time to start up a board game subscription. Maybe avoid renting out Monopoly, though – it’s not worth the risk of falling out with your family, or worse, your flatmates, over Free Parking rules.

Check out the Lazy Horse Games site here:

Featured Image: Epigram / Nick Hanington