Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Starting a game club: why do it?

I just read over on a Google+ community about a fellow whose gaming group - like so many - was beginning to scatter. Whether it was due to college graduation or job and career issues doesn't really matter. My own brother-in-law has been meeting with his college gaming group on Yahoo Chat and infrequent get-togethers for years, so there's nothing really new here.  Once a group begins to fragment, gamers often feel a sense of loss and don't know what to do.  Hence, ConstantCon and Google+ hangouts and the like.

But while I enjoy getting together online to do some gaming, it has never really matched the satisfaction I get from meeting around an actual table in real time. Combined with fond memories of gaming clubs in my past, I've always preferred regular get-togethers for roleplaying. So why start a club?

There are a bunch of decent reasons for starting a gaming club:
  • Finding other like-minded gamers. The frequent complaint of "I can't find other gamers!" is a strong motivation to start a club. I would argue that starting a club and putting a little work into maintaining it is well worth the effort, especially if it results in connecting with gamers who share your interests.
  • Introducing new gamers to the games you like.  This is particularly important for the Old School Renaissance, as many of the games we enjoy are not always available at your FLGS.  Having a club builds visibility for "our" kind of games, which does not happen as readily with online gaming.
  • Getting introduced to new games and campaigns.  There is something worthwhile in seeing how it's all done by somebody else, and better yet, having a chance to play in something different.  It is easier face-to-face, which regular club meetings makes much easier.
  • Building a sense of community.  Unlike online forums which can sometimes descend into endless bickering, a local game club can actually help build friendships and strengthen a sense of community among members.  Don't get me wrong - I've seen clubs go through their own brand of drama from time to time - but if you remember Wheaton's Law and the Golden Rule, a lot of it will dissipate.
Ultimately, you need to be open to experiencing new things to be effective in starting a gaming club.  It might come as a surprise, but gamers are even more varied than the general public, so starting a club can be its own adventure.

Next Wednesday: timing and frequency of meetings.