Bar games ranked by likeliness they lead to making out

You were aiming for the heart but your aim was just a little off. What would work better than darts? via Flickr user Aschevogel
You were aiming for the heart but your aim was just a little off. What would work better than darts? via Flickr user Aschevogel

It’s summer, where temperatures both literal and figurative run high! We’re comfortably out of our winter suckfest hibernation so hopefully you’ve been dating more liberally and more entertainingly. Still, after you’ve been cocooned in down coats watching Netflix for months, maybe you still haven’t gotten that old fashioned mojo back. Not to worry- bars have you covered with a litany of games to entertain the apple of your eye, but what are the best games to segue into getting a bite of that apple? I’m here to scientifically rank bar games for dates on a 1-5 scale of Pac-Man-Make-Outs.


Who the hell actually knows how to play this game? No, I don’t care if you do, no one else does, and it can last forever, so this gets a hearty whatever from me.

Score: 1 Pac-Man-Make-Outs


Skee Ball

Remember how this couple ended up? Well you’ll also notice they played skeeball

Take it back to the days of crap pizza and animatronic nightmare jamborees at the place where a kid can be a kid! The hell do you think it’s going to be accomplished with a game of skeeball? It is legitimately the shortest game you can play listed here, which means it’s also the most expensive to keep playing, and it’s fundamentally a one-player experience. You aren’t getting a plastic moustache comb at the bar with your tickets this time, so, like, why?

There has only been one time I’ve ever witnessed a skeeball game being used to flirt, and that was when a supremely soused girl thought she was being cute by crawling (seductively?) up the game and dropping all of her balls into the 100 holes. It was decidedly not cute, and while a small crowd was checking out her butt as she did it, I mean, really, c’mon, that’s like being the Union Pool of people.

Score: 1 Pac-Man-Make-Outs



Love, like Jenga, can be tough to keep tough to build. via Flickr user robotpolisher

Jenga is back! And, like 7-11, it seemed to emerge everywhere overnight at some point. Jenga is a good time, and spice can be added by writing dares on some of the blocks. Some bar sets are full of dares already, keeping you from having to write them out yourself. So stack ‘em up and knock ‘em down.

While Jenga is fun, it’s a better group activity than date activity. The suspense comes from wondering if the cycle will reach you again after umpteen people have created a Babel-like monstrosity of tenuous support. Playing tete-a-tete Jenga just seems wrong. And, like ping-pong, the atmosphere isn’t great for this. I’ve had a few too many times where some drunken vibe-killer bumped into my table and knocked down the tower wholesale. That thunderous sound of crumbling defeat is just so saddening.

Score: 2 Pac-Man-Make-Outs


Connect Four

connect four
As you can see, opinions are split on how much fun Connect Four is. via Flickr user Kaitlin

See, diagonal! This is one I’m honestly a bit ambivalent about. It’s a fun game with some real strategy, sure, but not everyone really cares enough to invest in an aggrandized version of tic-tac-toe (which, by the way, is 2 Pac-Man-Make-Outs). But the giant version in the yard of The Levee? Oh my goodness yes. Sunshine + beer + cheese balls + larger versions of childhood favorites = at least a second date.

Score: 4 Pac-Man-Make-Outs at the Levee, 2 Pac-Man-Make-Outs everywhere else


big buck hunter
Good for settling bets. Less good for making romance. via Facebook

Big Buck Hunter, Big Safari Hunter, et al.

It’s the Seth MacFarlane of video games- ubiquitous, bro-approved, mildly entertaining but generally overblown and repetitive. The nice things about these games is that they’re slow paced and turn based, allowing you to snag a sip of your drink and watch your partner fail/succeed, all while adorable animals that you can murder hop across screen.

However, let’s be real with this thing- it’s not the best date activity. Its hyper-focus on minute scoring techniques – shoot those meerkats when they do their funny little dance!- and deliberate trickery with does and bulls will make anyone who doesn’t care much about technique care even less about everything. If your date is enthused to bro down, then do it to it, but perhaps something a bit less, how shall I say, skies-out-thighs-out is a safer bet for the getting-to-know-you phase. Leave it to bro-cial gatherings.

Score: 2 Pac-Man-Make-Outs


Street Fighter and other fighting games

street fighter
Mashing buttons isn’t a path to mashing faces.

Nope. These things are esoteric button mashers. Unless you guys are both familiar with the game, it’ll become a whole lot of “How do I fireball?” and such. Plus, when you win, it defaults into sending you in a one-player game, which, if you decide to play through, will lead to you playing another one-player game when you get back home.

Score: 2 Pac-Man-Make-Outs



greenpoint pinball marathon
Right off camera, his super hot date is waiting to play

Pinball is fun because it’s only two buttons and you know exactly what they do. It’s a simple game that requires some concentration, which, weirdly enough, has a focusing effect on your conversation. Ever see Before Sunrise? If Ethan Hawke can wax philosophical while flipping some balls around then maybe you, too, can impress the Julie Delpy of your dreams.

Be sure to trade turns, though. No one likes a ball hog.

Score: 3 Pac-Man-Make-Outs



TK sinking balls joke. via Flickr user GH Cheng
TK sinking balls joke. via Flickr user GH Cheng

Ah, ole reliable. Pool is a great, relaxed time so long as you don’t stumble upon any league nights where Tom Cruise wannabes start flipping their cues like samurai swords. There’s no rush, it favors concentration as much as conversation, and you can check out your partner’s butt. All wins, all around!

The problem, though, is that the transfer of this perfect game from paper to reality is that no one can chill out at pool. Someone is going to miss a shot and let out some expletives, or get embarrassed, or take playful trash talking to The League levels of cringe. If I had a dime for every time someone tried to improve someone’s game uninvited, I’d have a few bucks to buy that recently dumped sucker a drink. It takes a patient, gracious character to play pool, so I ask – are you one?

Score: 3 Pac-Man-Make-Outs



bocce ball
Roll right into her heart. via Flickr user Joel Gillman

Whatever you call it, it’s been having a rather extended moment with entire bars built around the glory that is tactfully hurling bars down an alley. It’s a fun time, no lie, and reminds me, at least, of the wet, compact sand of where the beach hits the water and dusky summer chill-outs. And, I mean, is there a more romantic suffix to evoke than “on the beach” when doing anything?

Bocce is great, but if there’s one downside to be found it’s the lack of intimacy. For all these games listed you are either competing or working as a team. When competing, it’s a lot more fun to stare into your opponent’s eyes because, ideally, he or she is very pretty. As a team, work in solidarity and conquer. But when you’re competing and your eyes are literally across a room, it doesn’t encourage bonding. I’ll admit this is nit-picky, but in the game of arbitrarily ranking things on the internet, we pick nits.

Socre: 4 Pac-Man-Make-Outs



ping pong
Rhythm is everything. via Flickr user Viljar Sepp

This one is pretty great, as the game is competitive enough but more skilled players can ease up on ones still learning without making them feel bad. You can work a rhythm between you and your date, easing into that syncopation that will lead to better communication/bedroom antics. It’s more fun to keep the ball alive than brutalize with slams, and it’s just athletic enough to keep your blood pumping.

Sadly, despite ping-pong’s merits, its drawbacks are less about the game than about its venues. Have you ever tried to chase an errant ping-pong ball through a crowded bar? You are everyone’s least favorite person. Ping-pong halls are great, but if you go on a crowded night I wish you good luck getting any conversation steam going over the atonal chorus of clicks and clacks from the other tables around you. If you can find a spot without too many people that’s quiet enough to hear yourself think, like PIPS on a quiet night, then I highly recommend this game.

Score: 4 Pac-Man-Make-Outs


House of the Dead and its lightgun ilk

light gun game
Adrenaline is always hot. via Flickr user Jim Sheaffer

Remember what I said about Big Buck? Throw it all out the window. This is where it’s at. These are the games where you each have a gun and there is a swarm of some evil coming at you, and the only thing to do is murder it all and reload by shooting offscreen. These are where it’s at because it’s the same reason to take a date to a horror movie- things jump out at you, it’s stressful, and your date will come calling to you for help.

The only drawback is… no, there are no drawbacks. This is pretty solid. If the date is game, play the game, and throw out some military jargon, like “Tango, Echo- bogey on your right!”

Score: 5 Pac-Man-Make-Outs

When at arcades that serve booze or bars with multiple games to choose from…

When doing any arcade visits it is important to remember you are on a date, which means that the game MUST take second banana to the flesh and blood person next to you. So when at Barcade, for instance, DO play some Rampage, Ninja Turtles, or Joust, and DO NOT play Galaga, Donkey Kong, or Tapper. The last thing you’d want is going on a never-ending high score run on Q*Bert while your date exhausts every social media platform known to man while sitting in the corner.

Also, move through the games. If this date is cool with chilling at an arcade then sticking to one game is like sticking to one topic of conversation. You will both appreciate each other more seeing how you handle falling blocks AND how you handle a bunch of henchmen to punch.


Actual human interaction. Kind of romantic.
Actual human interaction. Kind of romantic.

The Game of Conversation

Always underrated, but always effective. Plus, no need for quarters.

Score: 1 or more Real-Life-Make-Outs

Follow Dan for more thoughts on dating at @yeah_dancerruti


  1. David Colon

    I have too much work to do at the moment to tell you how WRONG you are Dan, about skeeball. But just let it be known that while I allowed you publish those lies, I do not endorse them at all.

    • Dan Cerruti

      David, I’m sorry you’re grumpy that you got enough tickets for the fake mustache but not enough for the mustache comb so now you can’t comb it.

Leave a Reply