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Subject: INPUT NEEDED. PLEASE READ. rss

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Stephen Hall
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Hi Geek Brethren.

Here's my situation. I'm a college kid, and I am proud to say I have introduced the hobby of gaming to many dozens of friends and fellow students. I have made hard core gamers out of your average non-gamers, and I have helped a young adult community experience the joys of board gaming.

In past years, I could send a spur-of-the-moment text to ten people from my dorm community, saying, "games in 15 minutes downstairs," and I would have people show up, no matter what time it was. We would game for hours on end every week, because everyone lived in the same place.

This year, however, many people, myself included, have moved to different areas around the campus and local community. Thus, those "games in 15 minutes" texts won't work so well. That being said, I don't want people to lose that interest in gaming.

My solution is to plan a weekly game night, rather than send a random, last minute text invitation. That way, people can block game night into their calendars, knowing exactly when and where it will be every week. While my apartment is more or less equidistant from most of my group members, some of them may live up to a few miles from me. (This may not seem like a huge deal, but remember, most of us college types don't have cars.)

Here's what I'm getting at. This weekly game night I'm planning; I want people to continue coming. I want them to feel as if it's worth their time to come to. Even though it may be a hike to get to, I want them to keep coming back. I have a few ideas of how to do this, like themed game nights, for example. One night might be Space Game Night, where we play Cosmic Encounter, Terra Prime, and Starfarers of Catan. Another night might be Rio Grande night, where we do Power Grid, Puerto Rico, etc. Egyptian Game Night (Ra, Horus, Cleopatra and the Society of Architects, etc.), Cooperative Game Night (Pandemic, Flash Point: Fire Rescue, Star Trek Expeditions), and Horror Game Night (Betrayal at House on the Hill, Mansions of Madness, Arkham Horror, etc.)... These are some of my ideas.

But I need your help. How do I continue to grow this game group? My situation is unique, as we are all college students, so I want your help thinking of fun things to do to make game nights as awesome as possible. Lost Cities tournament? Potluck dinner and game night? Help a brother out here!
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Fox

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Alcohol.


Like you said the most important thing is for people to have fun(alcohol or not), that will bring them back. Creating a comfortable and relaxing area is helpful for people to enjoy themselves. Make it a social/board gaming scene and the themed stuff can be added spice to evenings.
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Ralph T
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I'd suggest making a boardgame club, then you can do weekly game nights. You might get funding, and attract people who are willing to play heavier games. Can you really get the dorm to play Puerto Rico and Power Grid?
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Stephen Hall
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ralpher wrote:
I'd suggest making a boardgame club, then you can do weekly game nights. You might get funding, and attract people who are willing to play heavier games. Can you really get the dorm to play Puerto Rico and Power Grid?


We did have an official club in past years, but due to complications and student government politics, we had to disband. However, everyone continued playing games together, just not as an officially recognized club. Generally, the people in my game group are lighter gamers, ones who would prefer shorter games to longer games. With our busy class schedules, we often are limited to games that are 2 hours max, often less. This way, though, I think if we played a few games per meeting, people could more or less come and go as they pleased. If we played Arkham Horror, players are pretty much committed for 4 hours, whereas, if a player only has 45 minutes to be there, 7 Wonders might be just perfect.

I suppose what I really want to see is just a thriving community of gamers. I want the commute to my apartment to be worth their time. I could occasionally switch up the location, but the fact is, I am centrally located, and I have all the games we play. Any thoughts or input are definitely welcomed.
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Keith Ibsen
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The main thing to keep people coming back is to make sure that they have fun at the game table.

Themes are good, but don't overdue them, maybe one a month or so. Make sure people know about the game night and that they can drop in anytime and join in. Have snacks and things (everyone likes free snacks) around the place and let them bring over drinks and food if they want. Have a relaxed open feel to it and people will want to come.
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Jamie Tang
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I am part of a massive game club with dozens of sites. The thing that helps is to say every Saturday noon-midnight or similar schedule (3rd & 5th Fridays of the month etc) and stick to it. You could start a Yahoo group so people could discuss in advance what they want to play. Send out a regular reminder 2 or 3 days before the meeting.

I like having a theme or scheduled game so that the heavier stuff hits the table, but most people I've spoken with prefer pick-up gaming, just at that set time and location. My feeling is then that people spend a long time discussing what to play and nearly everyone has to settle for something they don't want.

You could have a regular Friday night lightweight group and a regular Sunday all day heavier group. For the heavier group, you'd know ahead of time and be able to set up things with lots of pieces. Ask your friends whether they'd prefer sending out for pizza or each person being responsible for a night. That could be fun, with people who really want to get into cooking making something special and others sending out for uhm pizza.

Mainly, if you want to host gaming, the important things are decent tables, adequate seating and good lighting. Real food, snacks, soda, alcohol, even owning the games are bonuses.
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Mike Jones
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I've been running a gaming night for the past 8-10 years (not sure how long, but longer then I've been in the house).

The MOST important thing is to be consistant. You may go through fluctuations of interest, but if EVERYONE that might be interested KNOW that every Friday Night you are gaming from 6:30 till whenever, then thy are either a) committed or b) know if other things fall through they know where to go.

I've done theme nights, some people like them, some people don't. I've fed them, but many eat with families or on the run before they get here, plus I like to hit the table gaming anyway.

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Jason Hinchliffe
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Fox0910 wrote:
Alcohol.


Like you said the most important thing is for people to have fun(alcohol or not), that will bring them back. Creating a comfortable and relaxing area is helpful for people to enjoy themselves. Make it a social/board gaming scene and the themed stuff can be added spice to evenings.


Seriously.

For college kids? Damn right. Make it half game night, half party.

Don't expect super focused play, and you will have a blast. In fact, I would go so far as to surmise, that done correctly (ie. let people do what they want, and use the games as a social medium) it could become a local phenomenon.

Just be prepared for the occasional spilled drink/ruined game and don't freak out...or bring your copy of Indonesia.
 
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Michael Tunison
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I'll throw in my two cents. As other have said, it can help to be consistent in terms of schedule. If you can't maintain a regular schedule, at least plan ahead and give plenty of notice and reminders. I wouldn't worry too much about planning out themes ahead of time and adamantly sticking to it -- it sounds very cool in theory, but these events will likely flow best by just playing whatever everyone's in the mood for. Having one or two games in mind might not be a bad idea, but allow for some flexibility and spontaneity.

Also, if you're trying to actually grow the group, invite new folks regularly. People will leave your group from time to time for various reasons. It's great to keep the exact same group going for months or years, but it's also unlikely. Some will lose interest or just not have enough time, but as long as you have new folks coming in, you should be able to maintain steady attendance.

Contrary to what others have suggested, I would actually recommend against alcohol, or at least any significant amount of it. Try to explain rules for a new game to someone who's had a few too many and you'll quickly realize that the "game" part of the night is pretty much over. Unless you want to stick to very light drinking games (which does not seem to be the case), you want players to be mentally engaged which typically doesn't work too well once drinking gets involved. Have snacks and non-alcocolic drinks available, then throw all that booze-money toward a new board game instead

Finally, invite your friends along with you to other gaming groups/events. Try to get them involved in the greater gaming community -- there's plenty of it in Tucson. Hopefully, they'll eventually start showing up to game night with games of their own.
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Jae
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Be consistent.
Make sure the environment is comfortable and welcoming.
Make sure to gift games to friends so that games will be available to play even if you can't make it.
I strongly recommend using a public space with well maintained restrooms, again should you have to bail a night or two.

I am involved in three groups.
One meets at a professional office and rarely meets for various reasons.
One rotates from hpuse to house and communication can prevent people from meeting.
The Third meets at.mcdonalds on saturdays.

The third group is awesome.
The bathrooms are usually clean, free drink refills all night.
Nice tables, though we usually need to clean them.
Public, so there is no weirdness with new people showing up.
No one outstays their welcome.
24 hour mcdonalds means no one needs to get kicked out and you can play until you are sick of playing.
The restaurant appreciates the patronage, lets us reserve the party room and will occassionally cut us a deal.
Everyone brings 2-3 games they want to play and most people go home happy.
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Terry Gwazdosky
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juggler5 wrote:
We did have an official club in past years, but due to complications and student government politics, we had to disband.

I know not everyone is a fan, but Facebook is great for this sort of thing. Create a FB group and set it to public, but only admin can add users. Then add the folks that are interested to the group and create an event a week ahead of time with the time and location. Lather, rinse, repeat.
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Gary Heidenreich
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Keep it consistent. Same day of the week, every week. Obviously, things come up but having it the same day of the week worked. It gives the people in the group something they can plan and count on. What day? Well, that's up to you and what works best for you.

 
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Josh M

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Talk to the people in your group and see what's important to them?

Like, yes, a consistency of days is important and theme nights are fun every once in a while (although if people aren't feeling it, don't force it) but we don't know your group. We don't know what the most important thing to them. Is it having the same core group there every time so that no one has to explain rules? Is it a way to learn new games? Is it a party? Is it a chance to blow off steam for an hour before getting back to homework?
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Isaac
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+1 to Alcohol.

A lot of board games of different weights can be turned into really fun drinking games. Just make sure that you sleeve your cards. . .
 
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Miguel Cardoso
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I would like to see masks and outfits related with the themes, for instance if it's an horror theme it would be nice to see players masked as crazy doctors and jason voorhees from Friday the 13th

By the way if you are searching for players, see the website I'm making:

http://boardgamegeek.com/article/9803107#9803107
 
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