stirevents

Dating web site users typically get acquainted online, then decide whether to meet in person, but the sites are increasingly helping to forgo that first step by hosting gatherings.
Match.com is holding board game parties for single people in a partnership with makers of the games. The Web site’s game nights are held at bars and restaurants and are promoted through e-mail.

Last May, for example, Match.com, the 18-year-old Web site, introduced Stir, an events program, and has since held more than 2,850 mixers that more than 225,000 singles attended, according to the company.

Now Match.com has itself found a partner, the board game industry, to liven up events. On Tuesday, the company began holding what it is calling Stir game nights, where singles gather at bars and restaurants to play games like Bananagrams, a word game, and Spontuneous, a music game. The company will present 30 events through the fall in its top 25 most popular markets.

Luke Zaientz, vice president for events at Match.com, said that among attendees of events over the last year, 50 percent reported meeting someone they would like to date.

Match.com, which promoted the Stir events with a television commercial during the Summer Olympics Games last year, spent an estimated $105.3 million in advertising in 2012, according to Kantar Media, a unit of WPP.

Regular events like cooking classes or dance classes can be limited to as few as 18 singles for those who prefer smaller groups, while Match.com also hosts happy hours for as many as 300.

Some atypical events, like D.J. classes, have been hits, while others like teaching stand-up paddling on a surfboard flopped.

“We tried that and almost nobody showed up because nobody wanted to be in a bathing suit and to get wet,” said Mr. Zaientz.

A game night held in December in Chicago sold out quickly, prompting Mr. Zaientz to attend the American International Toy Fair held in New York in February to meet with game makers about forging partnerships.

The goal was to find games that could be learned quickly and enjoyed in short rounds, which ruled out long-lasting games like Monopoly and Risk. The coming events will feature about a dozen different games made by six companies, which have agreed to supply games to be played and given away.

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