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Subject: The Yellow Meeple...Starts a Board Game Group at Work rss

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Fiona Dickinson
United Kingdom
Horley
Surrey
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After struggling to find a very local game group to our new house or my workplace I finally took the plunge and decided to start a work game group. I’ve been wanting to do this since starting my job there 9 months ago, but lunchtimes never worked out because everyone is so busy and with a long commute I really just wanted to head home straight after work.

Our recent move means my commute is better and so I decided to advertise my new board game group for the after work slot. I’d like to start writing about the challenges and successes to try and help others starting new gaming groups. Spoiler alert – after the first week, I think it is definitely worth it for anyone thinking of starting a new group when there’s no-one else doing it!

Updates every two weeks at thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk
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Fiona Dickinson
United Kingdom
Horley
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Week 1
Number of Attendees: 11
Games Played: Dobble, Looney Quest, Exploding Kittens, Secret Hitler, Jamaica

The First Week Challenges

Making a booking at a venue (in my case a pub) when you have no idea how many people are going to turn up!
Some pubs I asked were also unsure about reserving a large number of tables on a regular basis, either wanting payment or a commitment that we would be eating or drinking.

Knowing what games to provide

For the first game night I really didn’t know anything about the people turning up. I tried to ask people about their gaming experience after they emailed me but the responses varied a lot!
“I like playing Guess Who and Cluedo with my family”
“I only play Backgammon”
“I am a master at Catan”
“I played Catan once 3 years ago and liked it”
“I play lots of games”
“I don’t think I’ve ever played a board game, but I sit next to you and I will support you in your quest to make new friends”

I decided that gateway games were best and picked some fillers (eg. Dobble) to start and then a mixture of abstract (eg. Blokus), gateway euro games(eg. Catan) and silly fun (eg. Looney Quest). I was a bit scared this might alienate any seasoned gamers who turned up, but out of the three that did, one brought a couple of their own games and the other two seemed happy enough. I can bring out some heavier games over time.

Entertainment factor seemed to be key with most of the crowd. I’m not sure how well introducing strategy games will work in the long run.

Worrying that no-one would turn up

There were 15-20 scary minutes where I was sitting in a pub with a small mountain of board games and no-one to play with. It was a bit of a worry and a few people were giving me looks of pity. From my publicity of the evening i had 14 people interested, but I’m not going to try and make people commit each week, it’s just too hard in the crazy environment we work in.

The Successes

People Came!


There was loads of shouting and laughter
A lot of this shouting was aimed at Dobble, which was definitely the hit of the night! But all the games were a hit. My personal favourite moment was two people celebrating how great it was to win a game as Hitler and a Fascist...they were also amused at this distasteful victory.

A lot of people were introduced to a whole new side of board games
A few people were really surprised at how diverse and fun board games could be and couldn’t believe what ‘counted’ as a board game these days. I’m really glad to have opened their eyes a little bit to the hobby!

Meeting new people

My workplace is around 1200 people in one campus and I work in a team of just 10. Already I’ve met a bunch of people working in different teams who otherwise I would have never crossed paths with and that’s awesome!

Happy people!
I made a bunch of people happy and that has made me really, really happy! Especially the gamers who are just really grateful that someone thought to organise something.

Lessons for Next Week

Book better tables
The pub isn’t going to know what you need unless you tell them. We ended up o high tables with bar stools – a bit uncomfortable and quite small tables.

Try something with a bit more strategy
Part of my motivation for starting a group was just to meet new people and spread the love of the hobby, however the other part is that I do want to play more games more often. To keep me personally happy we’ll need to move beyond the games that are just silly fun, so I’ll be trying to engage people in something a little more tactical next time.
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LMP ADK
United States
Livonia
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I love your post! I am dealing with similar kinds of issues and have been thinking about trying to do something like this! I will be eager to hear how it is working for you! How did you "advertise" the group at work?
 
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Fiona Dickinson
United Kingdom
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Lpiche wrote:
I love your post! I am dealing with similar kinds of issues and have been thinking about trying to do something like this! I will be eager to hear how it is working for you! How did you "advertise" the group at work?


Thank you!

We have a work intranet which has a forum. I left a message on the forums and made sure to show pictures of the 'style' of games I meant. I posted once to gather interest and then a second time once I booked a venue and had a time and date - both got responses.

Talking to close colleagues has definitely put me in touch with one or two other people as well.
 
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Fiona Dickinson
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The first week of game group left me feeling elated after introducing new people to the hobby and feeling like I had really started something good both for myself, the hobby and to build social bridges for other people in my workplace.

For week two I was probably more nervous about whether people would come back and also about picking the right games – In Week 1 I could forgive myself if I got the games wrong but knowing a little more about my audience my audience would I make the right choice to keep people interested?

Week 2
Number of Attendees: 8
Games Played: Dobble, Get Bit!, Coloretto, Catan, Survive!

The Challenges

Deciding whether to try and encourage more new players

With 11 players last week we were pretty full at the two tables I’ve booked in the pub. It’s not the largest venue so I don’t know how much of the table space we can take up before being unwelcome. This week I chose not to re-advertise and everyone who didn’t have other commitments returned from Week 1, which is a good sign! Next time I might readvertise and use some photos to show the fun we’ve been having.

Knowing what games to provide

The first week taught me that fun sells, but at the same time I know there are people in the group who have played heavier games before and I want to try and give people a broad experience before we get stuck with only ever playing the lighter side of games. This week, one person was determined to play Catan, so this was my test for a euro-style game. Card games were also covered by Coloretto. I also chose Get Bit this week - a bad call! It's not as quick as I remember and so the player elimination probably resulted in some boredom and disappointment rather than the quick, engaging filler I wanted.

Timing
We work in a high pressure environment and some people always have to work late. This week one person turned up 1.5 hours after we’ve started and I always want the latecomers to be able to join a game. This does mean ensuring that one group is playing something quick, which I think could be challenge going forward.

The Successes

People Came Back!

I’m starting to figure out people’s tastes
Through the game of Catan I managed to identify two players who are happy with some strategy and one who definitely isn’t and only wants to play ‘silly’ games. I’m pretty sure I can work with this going forward. So far everyone else seems easy going so I’ll need to try a few different styles of games to figure people out.

A surprising favourite game...
After each session I send round an email to say thanks and to give people a list of the games played just in case they want to find out more or request I bring it again. I get a number of responses and this week everyone was most excited about Coloretto! I had no idea this game was going to be popular, but people played game after game, enjoying the combination of simple mechanics and tough decisions. I’m not sure how I replicate this success, but maybe more card games is an easy way to go.

An offer from the manager...
An interesting development during the evening was a chat with the manager. He wants to meet up and talk about board games. I don’t think he wants to ask us to buy more drinks or not to play Dobble with some particularly loud players, although I am a bit worried! The more optimistic side of me thinks he might want to broaden the pub’s own board game collection, or even to start his own board game night or start advertising mine to a more broader audience than just my work colleagues. I’m looking forward to meeting him next week!

Lessons for Next Week

The right games for the right people
I’m definitely going to introduce a new euro game next week, perhaps Alhambra or Carcassonne to see who is interested in the less ‘silly’ style of games. However I also know I need to keep the entertainment factor high, perhaps with Dixit or bringing back Loony Quest.

Encouraging more teachers
This week I was the only person there able to teach games, and I’m the first to admit I’m not the greatest teacher! That’s a challenge as soon as the group gets bigger than 4 or 5 people. Even though some other group members do know some games, they don’t seem that willing to teach them. I may have to stop playing so many games to enable me to teach and help during games. Hopefully as we start to repeat the games we play then people will be able to play without teaching and maybe more people will bring their own games from home.
 
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