Author: William Little
Welcome to the opening of the Game Map! For our inaugural set of articles, it seemed right to go straight to the point of this website: getting groups of gamers together to have fun.
A lot of gaming, of course, takes place in a person’s house, with friends and family. What I want to talk about is the other kind of gaming: public gaming, where friends and strangers alike get together. What makes for a good public space for gaming, and how do these things contribute to the fun of the players and success of the group?
To be a success, a public group must keep its old members and draw in new ones. People need to feel comfortable just walking in and happy to come back in a week, or a month. It really is very similar to any service business. The group may not be taking money, but it is certainly taking time. If it wants repeat customers, it needs to give back a pleasant experience and happy memories. That means a lot more than just bringing out some good games. No gaming experience will be fun without
1. A comfortable, fitting physical space for the game to be played in.
2. A welcoming attitude and actions from the owners of that space and the people already using it.
And, of course,
3. Friendly reactions and inclusion by the people already in the group.
Over the next few articles, I am going to compare three examples of places people get invited to play tabletop games. The first is the open house, a personal residence whose owner has invited strangers or near strangers to join a scheduled gaming group. The second is the restaurant, book store, or bar, where players gather in an unrelated business to play. Finally there is the game store, where space has been set aside by the owner specifically to attract gamers to increase traffic and sales in his or her store. All three are public, but all of them also have very different physical setups, attitudes and interactions with the gamers that change the nature of the experience.
LARPs are a different experience, with a whole additional set of challenges and opportunities that I believe deserve their own separate discussion. I won’t be addressing them during this set of articles, but perhaps someone else on the site may pick up the slack.