I love board games, and if you are reading this, I’ll bet you do too. And if you are anything like me, you are the most enthusiastic board gamer in your circle of friends. In fact, I would say that most of my friends merely play games as a social distraction. I on the other hand specifically seek out the opportunity to experience new rulesets, mechanisms, and themes. So it can be frustrating when my friends’ enthusiasm about games doesn’t match mine.
Luckily, there are tons of people just outside of my social circle who DO love board games as much as I do. So I scratch my gaming itch by frequenting a meetup of these enthusiastic board gamers. In this article, I’ll share my observations about what has worked well, and what problems I’ve run into, so that you too can find people as psyched to play that latest deck builder as you are. I live in a small town, so all of these tips should apply to you too, no matter where you live.
1) Don’t force it: My first attempt at starting a board gaming group was at my office. I work at a software company, so generally speaking, my co-workers are of the right geeky caliber to enjoy board games. At first this was great, but overtime I felt like a rancher corralling cattle to slaughter. This was basically a case of players who were mildly interested in games, but didn’t have the intrinsic motivation to be on time to play them.
After a while I gave up, because I realized that it simply wasn’t worth the exhaustion. If you find yourself having to constantly nag people to come play games, stop it now! All that does is annoy your friends, and wear you out. I promise you, there ARE people who want to play board games as much as you do, so the key is to simply find them.
2) Find the enthusiastic gamers: Before you spend the time it takes to build a gaming group from scratch, you should start by seeing if a suitable group already exists. Besides saving you work, this also has the added benefit of not fragmenting your gaming community. There are several places you should check to see if an established group exists.
Meetup.com is a place that helps people with similar interests get together and do what they love. This is probably the first place you should check.
Boardgamegeek.com is a community site FULL of enthusiastic gamers. The problem is that they are spread out all over the world. It is hit or miss, but dropping a forum post on this site asking about gaming groups in your area may turn up some good results.
3) Go it alone: If you didn’t have any luck finding an existing group, you’ll have to start your own. It is worth it to shell out the money it costs to join Meetup.com as an organizer and post the group there. Then you’ll want to promote the group on Boardgamegeek.com, and in any other local online publications. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the number of gamers who are waiting for just such a group to exist in their community, but don’t know where to start.
As for venue, your home will do just fine, but it may be preferably to find a non-threatening public venue. My group worked out a deal with a local coffee shop that had a meeting space. Our players commit to always buy at least something small from the shop. In return, if no paying customers have the meeting space booked, our group can use it, free of charge. It wouldn’t hurt to ask some of your local businesses if they would be open to a similar arrangement.
4) Set some ground rules: Not every gamer will get along all the time, so setting a code of conduct can help to make sure everyone is playing by the same rules, so to speak. Sounds like overkill, but it can save you a lot of frustrations when “that guy” joins your group. I found a great template for a board game group code of conduct here: http://boardgamegeek.com/blog/148/thoughts-on-creating-and-growing-a-gaming-group.
5) Be consistent: One of the best ways to keep gamers coming back is to make the meetup part of their routine. So simply set a recurring schedule that everyone can count on, and keep playing games.
I hope that these tips help you find new gamers, and even new friends!
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