Board Game Room Lighting Ideas: Light Up Your Space Effectively

Lighting up your board game room is essential. Without proper lighting, playing board games can become an uncomfortable experience filled with players who sort of just want it to end as fast as possible instead of a fun and engaging way to spend time with friends and family, which isn't what most of us are after.

In this guide, we'll be covering some of the best lighting ideas for game rooms; ranging from simple ceiling lights to aesthetically pleasing and useful table-top lamps. Let's get started by discussing some fundamental lighting ideas to be aware of:

Striking a balance between gaming functionality and aesthetics

The lighting and ambiance of your board game room matter just as much as the games you’re playing – without a comfortable and organized gaming environment that truly lends itself to immersion and coziness, it’s likely that you haven’t yet reached peak levels of fun.

Of course, your gaming space will still need to be functional; without having all the proper tools and equipment around, your guests could become frustrated by the lack of organization or care over time, which is the opposite effect you want to have when hosting board game nights.

Overall, proper lighting reduces glare and eye strain and compliments the immersion levels and overall vibe of your gaming crew – and these are just a few benefits.

Game room lighting features to be aware of

Before we dive into some game room lighting ideas, let’s talk about some lighting details in general. There are a few major features of lighting that you can work with; these aren’t super complicated or hard to understand, so even if you’re not a lighting expert things should fall into place.

Pay attention to features like:

  • The size and shape of your light fixtures and bulbs

  • Are your lights adjustable and functional to begin with?

  • Energy efficiency of your lights

  • The colors, tones, and brightness levels of your fixtures

  • How will your lights compliment the paint colors of your room?

Based on these details, it's clear that fostering a community of gamers in your home can be accomplished in part through proper lighting – so let’s talk about some of our best game room lighting ideas:

Our top game room lighting ideas

When it comes to lighting up your boards and table, luckily you have quite a few options to work with. Not only can you change or pick between multiple different kinds of lights, you can also swap out bulbs, fiddle with the positions and locations of your fixtures, and go a little crazy with some ideas of your own.

Ambient lighting vs. accent lighting vs. task lighting

When it comes to the overall lighting of your room, this is generally referred to as ambient lighting. Basically, ambient lighting is going to be the primary source of light you’re dealing with, ranging from powerful bright lights to softer light bulbs that still manage to light up your family game room without any glare.

Accent lighting, on the other hand, is a type of lighting used to accentuate specific areas of a room without much light, or to highlight other aspects of your gaming den. For example, including a few lights that aim specifically at your board gaming table could be considered accent lights.

Finally, task lighting includes lights that are meant to aid you in specific tasks; similar to accent lighting but more along the lines of a lamp you would turn on in order to see within a closet or at a desk, for example.

And don’t feel restricted by these categories of light below, as you can mix and match or even alter any kind of fixture we’ll be covering. In fact, we encourage you to do so – a great example of this is installing game room ceiling lights that point towards the ceiling, providing an ample amount of light that bounces off the surface instead of directly pointing at the table.

Illumination using light bulbs and LEDs

In our opinion, light bulbs are more confusing than lamps and other fixtures themselves. The perfect lamp or spotlight can be ruined by using the wrong bulb, so let’s briefly go over some essentials on bulbs and LEDs:

  • Lumens: this is the measurement for brightness, so you can use lumens as a standard to compare different bulbs when shopping

  • CFLs: compact fluorescent lamps are bulbs that take a bit to turn on and warm up, but do offer a pleasant and energy-efficient glow

  • LEDs: light-emitting diode bulbs are super versatile and last an incredibly long time – they also come in a diverse range of tones and warmth levels

  • Halogens: halogen bulbs light up instantly and emit a warmer light, but they do tend to burn hot and last a shorter amount of time than other options

Light bulbs can even have dimmer switches, color changing capabilities, and other perks that work quite nicely in a gaming room. With all of this in mind, you’re going to want to consider your bulb options while shopping for light fixtures – and you can always go back and change out bulbs whenever you want.

The last thing with light bulbs is that, generally, you do want all of the lights to match. A room with mixed lighting colors and tones can be tough on the eyes during long gaming sessions and your goal should be to reduce the overall amount of glare, not increase it – as gaming should be a beneficial activity, not an annoying one.

Overhead game room lights

This is the most basic type of lighting, and it’s one you’re likely already familiar with. The idea is to have lights on your ceilings or walls that point towards your board game – simple enough, but of course the nuance comes in when you’re dealing with groups of people playing games from all sides of a board game dining table at once.

Having permanent light fixtures like chandeliers or ceiling fan lights up above is a good idea in general: you will likely need to clean your gaming room at some point, and having a powerful central light from overhead makes that much easier. Additionally, picking out your favorite games from your board game display shelf can be hard without proper lighting.

With that being said, you don’t want your game room lights to resemble something like harsh hospital lighting. Think powerful and sterilizing lights that sweep over a room, offering you nowhere to hide. That usually isn’t how you want your game room to appear or feel – so if you’re going to go with overhead lights, you want to make sure to use softer light bulbs that aren’t emitting a pure white dazzle that makes it hard to focus on reading cards and text.

The key thing to remember about overhead lighting is that it does not need to point directly at your table. Angling overhead lights to bounce off walls and ceilings is usually enough for the room overall, and will cut down on harsh angles and glare.

Recessed room lighting and downlights

Similar to general overhead lights like chandeliers, recessed gaming room lights are a specific category of overhead lighting – these lights are located overhead but are placed within the ceiling or wall itself, so they might require some remodeling to set up properly.

These fixtures can be installed flush against the ceiling and won’t protrude, making them an excellent choice if you have a gaming room that isn’t very large. Adding recessed lights overhead could expand the feeling of the room, compared to bulkier lights that take up space and change contours, making your space feel smaller.

Downlights are a subcategory of recessed lighting – these lights usually feature LED bulbs set within a functional but decorative metal case, sort of resembling a spotlight. Depending on the brand you go with, you may or may not have to buy a bulb separately for these.

Floor and table game room lights

The great thing about game room lighting is that you aren’t limited to the ceiling or walls of your space, you can also just add lamps or other fixtures to the floor or your table itself, depending on the size of your board game table.

This is one of the best lighting categories to go a bit wild with, as lamps and other light fixtures that can be moved around are often more decorative and aesthetic; if you want a themed gaming room, you’re almost guaranteed to find lights that match if you look hard enough.

For example, instead of a single powerful overhead light, you could try adding multiple smaller lamps to your table, spreading out soft and warm light that reduces glare but isn’t too dim to work with, either. Floor lamps can even be large enough to stretch over the table or board game area, so overhead lighting may not even be necessary at all if you have a high-quality lamp you think might work.

Floor and table lighting ideas to look for:

  • Floor lamps that extend over your table

  • Cozy themed lamps that increase tabletop RPG immersion and reduce glare from overhead

  • Candles, although these can get a bit messy if you aren’t careful

LED lights and decorative lighting effects

In addition to sparking up some creativity with floor or table lights, you also have thousands of other choices in terms of more decorative light sources. And while a neon game room sign may not provide the best overall lighting, little details like this can make or break the vibe of your room.

This is probably the largest category of lights, and you should definitely spend a bit of time browsing lights online or in-person to get a good idea of what options exist, and which ones you think might work for you. The sky's the limit here – you could set yourself up with lasers and projectors if you’re into maximalism or go with sleek, low-profile details if you enjoy minimalism.

LEDs have simplified the art and science of decorative lighting as of recent years – you can find strips of LEDs in any imaginable shape or size. The interesting thing about some decorative lights is that you can control them; dimming switches and changing colors are some of our favorite addons, giving you the power to change how your board games feel to play with friends.

Decorative and LED ideas to look for:

  • LED strip lights, bars, and smart lights with color changing or dimming capabilities

  • Neon signs, which can be customized in every way imaginable

  • Strings of LEDs – think Christmas tree lighting

  • Projectors or lasers, depending on what kind of games you play

Where can you actually find game room lighting options?

The final thing we should mention is that buying lights can be done both in-person and online. You’ve likely passed by a “lamp store” or some other kind of lighting retailer in the past without giving it a second thought.

If we were to give you a small homework assignment, it’s going to be to visit one of these shops. Before I ever set foot in one of them, I dismissed them as silly or unnecessary – after all, we have the internet to shop on, why would a lighting store matter?

In reality, it’s hard to judge the effectiveness or quality of light fixtures found online. Going into a physical store to explore options, touch and feel products, and even get opinions from an expert are all good reasons to stop by one of these shops.

In particular, picking out a sturdy, high-quality floor lamp is much easier when done in-person. You want lamps that will sit on your floor or table to have stable bases and be tall enough to stretch and reach any dim corners you need illuminated.

Another excellent option would be second-hand or thrift stores, which will vary in quality but offer more variety and the chance to stumble upon incredible vintage lighting fixtures, lamps, and other items.

Final thoughts

Coming up with a realistic list of gaming room lighting ideas on your own can be quite challenging. Thankfully, lighting is more of an art than a science when it comes to designing an immersive gaming experience, which means you can experiment freely and see what works for you and your friends over time. So bust out some interesting and fun light fixtures, but make sure you understand some basic design principles while doing so.