Geekathlon 4.0

For my 40th birthday, I revisited the theme for my 30th birthday – a Geekathlon celebrating all things nerdy, including video games, board games, and trivia. The only big change was to make it family-friendly, encouraging people to bring their partners and kids.

Event 2 - Mario Party

It was a big hit. We had 20 adults and 10 kids over for nearly 7 hours on Saturday and everyone had a blast.

A lot of planning went into making it a success, and in case you want to run your own Geekathlon here are the steps to follow.

How to organize a Geekathlon

Step 1: Invitations

It’s important to choose the right people to invite – you want nerds who are ready to have a good time. If you’re blessed like me, the only challenge will be narrowing down the list so you can fit everyone in your home.

Nerd Herd

Set the tone with an encoded invite. I mailed the invites out to everyone a few weeks before the event and had an RSVP page to ensure that attendees knew where and when the event was (because timezones are annoying, a bunch of people got the start time wrong). I even made a puzzle for the kids to solve.

Geekathlon Invite
Kids Club Invite

Step 2: Ice Breakers

A lot of people at the party didn’t know each other, so I had an easy icebreaker ready to help them socialize. When each guest arrived I put a sticker on their back with a character from a well-known science fiction or fantasy series. The adults had people like Princess Leia, Captain Picard, and Sherlock Holmes. The kids got characters like Pikachu and Yoshi. The goal was to figure out who you were by asking other people yes/no questions.

Nametag Game for Kids

Step 3: Game Selection

Choose a varied selection of games. You want to pick ones that are easy to learn, quick to play, and produce a score that can be benchmarked. Here’s what I ended up choosing.

Mario Party (Switch)

Even though it only allows 4 people to play at a time, Mario Party was a perfect Geekathlon activity. Games were fast and intense and everyone felt like they had a chance to win, even if the more skilled players came out on top overall. We swapped controllers between each mini-game and kept track of wins on a piece of paper.

Sushi Go (Board Game)

Sushi Go

Sushi Go is one of my favourite party board games. It is easy to pick up and it scales well from 3 to 8 players.

Beat Saber (Oculus)

Nerd in Training

Beat Saber wasn’t as interactive as the other games and took a little longer to play, but it was fun and had a nerdy novelty to it.

Trivia (Google Forms)

There’s nothing geekier than a pop quiz. The questions were all nerdy topics (about Star Wars or astronomy) mixed in with questions about the birthday boy. I used a simple Google quiz to collect the answers and allowed people to fill it in when they had free time between other games. In retrospect, it might have been more fun to run in a live game show format. The best anyone did was 15/20 so the questions were definitely challenging.

Quiplash (Jackbox Games)

Final Scoreboard

The final game was Quiplash with the top players from each group facing off and everyone else in the audience judging their witty answers.

Step 4: Scoring

Keep the scoring simple. 10 pts for 1st in each event, 8 for 2nd, 6 for 3rd, etc. I had a spreadsheet prepared before the event that did most of the work of figuring out who the top Geekathletes in each pool were.

Step 5: Kids’ Activities

Have a bunch of activities ready to keep the kids amused. We had an art station, lego, kids’ board games, and printed activities like rebus and other puzzles. The kids loved watching the Mario Party and we let them play in between rounds.

Step 6: Prizes

Reward the top Geekathletes with some nerdy swag. I picked a Super Mario Lego course, the Fort board game, and a few Hanayama metal puzzles.

Funko Prizes

For the kids, I had loot bags with Funko key chains, Pokemon cards, modelling clay, Nerds candy, and stickers.

Step 7: Food and Drinks

Birthday Cake

Geekathletes in their prime need a lot of refreshments – mostly bubbly and potato chips. We also had veggies and humus because we’re good vegans.

For dinner, Emily managed to make a taco bar with two giant vats of refried beans, guacamole, and other toppings. Who doesn’t like tacos?

And for dessert, there was a delicious carrot cake. In a throwback to my childhood, each piece of cake had a tinfoil-wrapped coin in it – money cake. Half of the coins were Canadian and half were from around the world, including Mexican pesos, Norwegian krone, and Indian rupees.

Step 8: Have Fun

As ChatGPT continuously reminded me every time I asked it for party planning tips, “Remember, the goal is to have fun and show off your geeky skills, so make sure to adjust the events to fit the interests and skill levels of your guests.”

I had a blast organizing and running Geekathlon 4.0. I’ve been asked by several people if there will be a Geekathlon 4.1, and I don’t think there will be. It’s too much work to run every year. But now that you have this guide, you can run your own Geekathlon and let me know how it goes.

More photos and videos.

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