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!
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.
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!
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.