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Subject: Start a game club and create new gamers! rss

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David Bohnenberger
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Lately I've been thinking about how I ended up here. Around '96 I had a collection of a dozen games or so and I was always trying to talk people into trying games. It was tough. One day I posted to rec.games.board asking if there were any organized game groups in the Philadelphia area, and Mike Nagel invited me to EPGS.

Now I have 250 games or so, and besides EPGS I attend several game conventions a year. None of this would have happened if EPGS didn't exist.

I think its obvious that where there are game clubs, there are gamers. It might be assumed that there are clubs BECAUSE there are gamers, but I think that at least in part, it works the other way too. After all, is there some reason that so many gamers happen to live near Columbus or Greenville? Or do the clubs in those areas actually promote gaming and allow people to become more active in the hobby? And who's going to buy 250 games if they have nobody to play with? (OK, don't answer that...)

Game clubs are good for the hobby in two ways - they create gamers and sell games. If there is no club in your area, why not try to start one? And I don't just mean 4 guys who meet in somebody's kitchen on wednesday night, I mean a full-fledged, open-access club!
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Jeff Anderson
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Amen Brother!

It's really not that hard. I was fortunate enough to find the Dallas Gamers (www.dallasgames.com) when I got into gaming while living there. Two years ago found me moving to Denver, and first order of business was to find a similar group. None such existed! Oh sure, there are several "groups of friends" who meet semi- to not-so- regularly at someone's house, and with proper introduction I meet them and gamed once or twice. Wonderful people, but not the public group I was looking for.

There are also some groups who played at various game stores, but they tend to target a specific kind of game to play (e.g. the 18xx'ers who play at Valhalla's every Saturday). However, there was no open group that played regularly (weekly) in an open environment, focusing on designer (German) games.

So, what to do? Start one! How? Copy what works! Hence, from the great success of www.DallasGames.com now comes www.DenverGames.com!

I located a friendly bookstore with a cafe with suitable tables and amenable having us show up weekly. I then simply emailed every local group I could think of, Spielfrieks, r.g.b (and today I would have annonuced here on the 'Geek as well). That first Tuesday a little more than 2 years ago Alan Kaiser showed up, the next week we had 4 gamers (Jeff Wu having only missed the first week due to illness). We haven't missed a week since, and it's a very rare event to have less that 10 gamers - I'd say our average is 15 or so, and our record is 26 in one night!

So, what are the critical elements?

1. Play weekly (I find Tuesdays to work best)
2. Play in a public place that's not a game store. Bookstores work well. We also had luck in a Jason's Deli while Border's was remodeling. Needs to be public to draw in more gamers, and not in a game store so as to be more accessible and inviting.
3. Have a website. We've had several people find us that way. We also use a Yahoo Group to handle email lists and Calendars of Events.
4. Be explicitly lax in structure - no dues, officers, any of that junk - just friendly gamers willing to play lots of different games.
5. Not essential, but nice to have: Business cards - for $20 (I'm sure you can find cheaper) I got a guy at a local Office Max to design us some cards - have the website on it to pass out to potential new gamers.

I'll also say that Geeklist have made great interactive session reports, and been great at advertising the group here.

It's all really easy, and for the price of a game I had a website up, and since then it generally takes care of itself. Credit to the Dallas Gamers who showed me the way - and it's only pure coincidence that we both play in the cafe of a Border's Bookstore on a street named Arapahoe Road.

- Jeff
 
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Jeff W
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Quote:
So, what are the critical elements?


I would add: patience. Jeff Anderson's patience during those first weeks where he was by himself a lot was amazing. I knew that someone was going to be there so that made going much easier.
 
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lisa smith
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Quote:
So, what are the critical elements?


Most groups I know that suceed have a couple more elements
a) they have good rules teacher
b) they make a special effort to make sure new members first visit is pleasant. Try to play games the new person likes if they are already a gamer. If they are not, play games known to be good the first visit and not unknown/untried ones, so the games will be fun.
 
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Alan Kaiser
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Here are some links to several good discussions that showed up in November on finding/starting a game group and finding a place to play:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/689535#689535

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/694926#694926

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/690664#690664
 
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Bryan Johnson
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I started my local gaming group in January 2005 because most of my regular gaming buddies that I have gamed with for years lived over 60 miles away and it was getting difficult to game with them regularly. I put up a few postings and sent out a few GeekMails and now I have a great group of locals who I met and play with, while occasionally still getting together with my other (more distant) gaming buddies. I am also trying to start a Monday gaming session at work now as well.

www.SalemGamer.com

Bryan

 
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Keith Meyers
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I agree with Jeff A whole-heartedly. As I started my club in Santa Barbara, CA, getting hooked up with a neutral location as our monthly gaming session place was key. BTW, Borders is very supportive to gaming groups. We would draw people in all the time who had just come into buy a book.

And since gaming groups are still relatively few, it makes them newsworthy. So send out a press release to local papers and draft a flyer that can be posted at work of the people that do come. We ended up getting front page of the Life section of the local paper and the next week we had about 3 dozen gamers. We averaged 16 - 24 each month thereafter for about 2 years.

With my recent move to Denver, I'm glad I don't have to start over. Thanks, Jeff A, for doing all the leg work!
 
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Jeff Watts
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What's the problem with gaming at a Gaming store? My group has always gamed in the back of our local store and I've never thought twice about it.

Is there something I'm missing?
 
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