Thursday, 12 September 2013

Clubs / Societies and Community

As I said in my recent post about Game Time I attend a club on a Friday night to play games.

In a conversation with a friend about the post we got onto the topic of me organising a club or something a bit more local to me to see if that could improve my Game Time.  I've done this before, albeit not locally, and think I know what makes a club work.

So what makes a good club?

Venue
A good venue is key to any club.  Having a publicly accessible space to play games in where new members aren't intimidated by the venue is the core to a lot of clubs out there.
Clubs that have any barriers to entry are going to restrict membership and potentially alienate other members.
What do I mean by barriers to entry?

  • Hosting a gaming club in a pub/bar or any other licensed venue limits you to aged 18+ (or equivalent) members.  Even if that pub has a license for those under-age to be on the premises it can put people off.
  • Location.  If your location is obscure or off the beaten track then it is likely to have a reduced accessibility or just be seen as inconvenient to attend.
  • Public.  There's a difference between "publicly accessible" and "public."  Not everyone is comfortable enjoying their tabletop gaming hobby with non-gamers watching on.  Personally I think public gaming is a good thing but having ran a RPG club in public spaces I can understand why people don't like it.

Community
The community / membership of any club defines the club.
When a new member comes to a club for the first time they're not simply checking out the venue or indeed checking the games that are played.  They are checking out the community itself to see if the people there are compatible with their own hobby.
I've been to a number of clubs over the years and that first 5-10 minutes of you arriving is critical to whether you will return.  In the build up to KoA opening when I was looking to understand more about the community I visited all of the clubs in the geographical area.  Some were great at welcoming me, others however made me feel like an outsider and in one case completely ignored me for over 10 minutes before I was greeted in any way.

Options
By options I really mean what games are played at the club and what options are there within the community to play other games?
If nobody at the club plays your favourite game then there's a good chance that something has to give.  Either through introducing others to that game or through you trying out the games that are played.

What experiences do you have of clubs?