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Subject: Gaming Groups rss

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Patrick Kelly
United States
Roanoke
Virginia
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During our most recent episode Josh spoke about some challenges he was facing in growing his gaming group. During the discussion it was suggested that the Guild may have some insights into how you can expand the scope and size of your gaming group.

I wanted to ask here:

1) Do any of the PegHeads have tips about creating and maintaining gaming groups?

2) Any interesting stories about the creation or dissolution of gaming groups?

3) Any cool gaming group names or traditions?

Sound off below PegHeads.
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Michael Vannoy
United States
Shreve
Ohio
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In Northeast Ohio I know there are a couple of bigger game groups. I am a member of BOGA (Boardgamers of Greater Akron). I have recently joined and every year they have a retreat. They have cabins and you go for the weekend. It was a blast. The creator of 2 rooms and a boom is also a member and tested out some new variations. There was a game of assassin all weekend (with Nerf guns) but you couldn't be shot in the gaming area. As far as adding to or starting a group it is tough where I live. I drive an hour to hit that game group. I have tried to start one aside from just my friends but never really takes off. That is what is hard about being a gamer in a rural area I guess.
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Kristopher Hickman
United States
St. Joseph
Michigan
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Gaming Unplugged since... 2016
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1. Communication and consistency are key. Maintain the same schedule week to week. If you try to change your times each week to accommodate members, you'll often end up with smaller turnout and huge heaps of stress.

I have game night weekly, but also organize several larger gaming events. Labor Day, Memorial Day, Last Day of School (many friends are teachers) Super Bowl, New Year's, Etc. as an excuse for a larger gaming event. I try to build the hype up way in advance and turnout seems to help.

Additionally,encourage people in the group to share via a social media page for the group what games they intend to bring and play. I've found greater success getting people to come for specific games over a general event.

2. My gaming group started as a bible study group... guess we missed that boat.

3. Our Men's Bible Study Group had been called The Fellowship, so for a bit we went by The Fellowship of Gamers, but now its simply named the Unplugged Gaming Group.
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Nick Shaw
United Kingdom
Plymouth
Devon
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I co-host a twice-monthly game night that's been running for nearly 4 years now, and we consistently get 15-30 people coming along. Although I wasn't around for when it started (it started 9 months before I moved to the town), here are some interesting things I've noticed across the time I've been attending:

- Our meetup is held in a public place: Anyone can come along, and as it's held in a café, there's no fear of running out of space to seat people, and there's not the pressure of having to host in someone's home (or indeed the pressure an introverted person may feel about turning up at a stranger's house to play games they may not know much about!).
- There's a core of about 8-10 people who ALWAYS come. They will often bring the majority of games, and do most of the teaching of games too (and, as far as I know, are happy to do that!).
- There are about 20-30 people who will come semi-regularly, but not to every meetup. Always nice to see them come back (but I'm not sure how we'd fit them all in if they ALL came one week).
- We get probably 3-5 new people come along EVERY meetup. On average, I'd say over 3 months, we'll get about 3 or 4 of those new people coming along semi-regularly, and maybe 1 or 2 who start coming EVERY time.

Some ideas on how to grow/maintain a group, in light of this:
- Have a core of people willing to teach games (and bring some too, if your group doesn't meet at someone's house!).
- We have a meetup.com page and a Facebook page where we announce/schedule all our meetups, which really helps remind people (meetup.com emails out reminders of upcoming meetings, and Facebook you can either post a reminder or add an event). RSVPs are fairly useless on these for telling who will actually turn up, but Meetup.com is where most people hear about us from, when they search for things going on in their area.
- I almost always follow up a meetup by posting session photos and a summary of all games played. That (hopefully) gives newcomers a chance to see the kind of games we get played, and thus whether they'll like coming to the group.
- We make sure to have 1 or 2 people "hosting" the evening. This doesn't mean that person doesn't get to play games, but it does mean they have to be willing to say hi to newcomers and make sure they get in on a game, before the host can then settle down to play something. It MIGHT mean they have to sit and teach a group of newcomers a few filler/gateway games, but we rotate the hosting duties so one person isn't hosting (and potentially playing filler games all night) EVERY time.

Not sure if that helps at all, but hopefully you can make some use of it!

[Note on meetup/facebook: We have over 900 people who 'belong' to the meetup group, and around 700 who belong to the facebook group; the place we meet has a max capacity of 50. We've only once run out of chairs, when 45 people turned up, so I'm hoping we don't necessarily grow TOO much too quickly!]
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Vorpal Greatsword
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Louisiana
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Our gaming group started with a bunch of friends from college doing RPG's and eventually breaking into board games as time went by. During that time, we added a few people just from among our various friends. Our main GM likes to host at his place so we usually game there on Friday nights, but occasionally if he's unavailable then someone else will host or we may converge on the FLGS. Typically, we hoard drinks and snacks at his place and use group Messenger to organize things.

A little over 3 years ago, we also started up a MeetUp group and managed to get free conference room space at a local library. We schedule the whole year in advance (trying to be consistently early in the month), post the dates, and keep people up to date/discuss the hobby on a private FB group. Our regular attendance has reached 25~ each month, but we have over 300 people that have joined the MeetUp group. We also use the FB group as a way for people to get word out about local events, home game group openings, etc. We don't presume to be the only gaming group in the area, our goal is to make connections and hopefully grow the hobby some here.

What I think we do right:
Consistency- there is rarely a Friday without a game of some sort going on. Our MeetUps are first or second Saturdays each month. If we can't get the conference room due to a scheduling conflict then we either run it on a later weekend or we find an alternate site (In our case, we can use the gym at my church). Regardless, we strive to maintain momentum

Inviting spaces- our host keeps his house clean. The library is public, brighly lit and open, & there's plenty of room. We have snacks and drinks available at both. We unfortunately tend to avoid the FLGS, because it's a bit dingy and not well lit.

Good variety of games- I personally pack 3 bags on game day. One for kids, one for beginners, and one for the stuff I want to play. Other members usually bring a bunch of games as well. Some of our MeetUp regulars come mainly for party games, and we're cool with it.

Communication- with so many online resources, there's really no reason that people shouldn't be able to find out the info they need about your group and times within the course of a day.
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United States
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My FLGS gaming group is pretty active. One thing at we do that people seem to enjoy is have a theme night. For example our most recent one was fruit themed since it's cherry season. People brought the games that matched the theme so people brought fabled fruit, Viticulture, Agricola, Tutti Frutti and Vinhos. We also bring food to match like cherry pie, fresh fruit etc.

They are always fun and I enjoy playing games that I normally wont see brought to the table. Other theme nights we've done, Halloween, Space, Cops and Robbers, Super Hero.
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Gabriel Edge

Oregon
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I've always gone out to gaming groups that were established instead of creating my own. Well, almost always.

What works

Building off of structures that are already in place. A relatively new FLGS set up Tuesday night Open Play and there is a group of around 5 of us that show up regularly. Lately, the group has grown to 8 - 10 folks for the gaming. Since it is an FLGS, though, there is a pressure to bring money in. That's part of the reason why a Magic tournament has also been scheduled on these nights (starting about 3 weeks ago) ... just Open Play was not bringing in enough folks.

The local convention - Game Storm - also has Free Game Days that they host and from there, it's relatively easy to meet folks and start a weekly session in a location nearby.

The death of a group
So I did try and start up a group within my friend set. We met weekly for almost a year at my house. It started rough - consistency needed to be key and I was a little too stringent with games to play - but soon we got into a good rhythm. Until ...

... You know, when friends have conflicts that end years of friendship, it's a sad and hard thing to witness. This pretty much ended that gaming group.


Another group that I was able to join from time to time lost their main place of play (as well as had members that very few others wanted to play with). Even though a location now exists for the game group again, it's been too long to restart the group (almost a year). That disruption kills it.

If I were to start a bigger gaming group
I'd be crazy ...

BUT,

a) I would start at a public place.

b) I have two or three FLGS where I could post advertisements for this meetup.

c) I'd make sure rules were established beforehand regarding food/beverages (what is allowed, what is available, etc).

d) I'd loop close friends in to the group and get them to commit to coming at least every other meeting.

e) I'd work to make the event as inviting as possible, so that others who are present at the public place could join in and be invited for future meetings.

I don't know if this would work long term, but it's what I'd start with. Since there are now TWO game cafes in the Portland-Beaverton area (Portland, Oregon), I'd probably try to get the groups to start in the location closest to me.

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Ray
United States
Mansfield
Ohio
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One thing that I was thinking during that segment was that people do get burned out or busy. You will be surprised how many people will probably come back after a short hiatus
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Owlbear
Australia
Melbourne
Victoria
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I've been ridiculously lucky with mine. The core group started as 4 of us from High School who all met when we were around 13. We're all close to 40 now & have been gaming in one form or another on a near weekly basis for years now.
We added in another friend about 10 years back we met through work. And our partners have also jumped in from time to time depending on the game.
The extended group I've had started with the first Tabletop Day. We've had around 30 or so people come over to my place for games, pizza, fun & friendship. We've had one every year since and a few in between because it was too long between it. We get new people every year as friends bring friends though some miss it due to clashes.
We have facebook groups to organise meet ups (one for the core group and one for the Tabletop Day group - currently 136 members) we vote on games beforehand with the core one as helps maximize the gaming on a weeknight.

As far as tips, I think as long as you don't take everything too seriously & remember fun is the goal, you can cultivate a group who may not always be able to attend but always wants to.

As for names, I've tried to give our core one multiple times but they never stick. I'd love for one to though!
 
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