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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Off Topic, Am I

Since I keep mistaking the start of the month for, well, the start of the month, my evangelism article is a bit early this time. Actually, I've covered the subject in two different entries, one on how I've given up on evangelism in a broad sense, and also the evolution of how my wife has come to accept my hobby. Well, one of my hobbies. You'd think one of them would be cheap...

As for National Gaming Is Good Week, I think that's fine and dandy, although I also suspect that it's part of a marketing ploy by Hasborg to get people to buy yet another copy of Monopoly or Sorry. I'd be more enthusiastic if the big US companies (whoops, company) would try developing good games instead of repackaging the same old thing over and over. For me personally, every week is National Gaming Is Good Week.

Since I've had a couple of very busy weeks recently (truck battery dead plus keys locked in car, days worth of bookkeeping entries lost at work, unintended water feature in my basement), I'll keep it relatively short this time. The subject: Attendance.

We had a great turnout last night at Rip City Gamer's Central Tuesday session (which happens every other week). Eleven people, including myself, showed up. This is, if not a record, certainly a tie for the most people showing up at my place. Two weeks earlier, it was myself and Laurent playing Blood Bowl. Not to denigrate Laurent, as we did have a good time, but there is something about critical mass that just lubes the social engine that makes gaming what it is. Another host told me recently that he was getting tired of people not showing up when he hosted our Thursday sessions, and in fact when Tim and I were a bit late in commiting, he even got to his house a bit late.

I empathize completely. Hosting requires at least a bit of psychic energy, not to mention a commitment of time. For me, while I am disappointed if few people show up, I generally can find something else to do when it becomes clear that the evening is now free. For those with children and/or busy schedules, commiting to that time can mean that another activity will have to be missed if it requires planning, travel, etc.

Recently our group went from weekly Thursday sessions (one on each "side" of town) to weekly Tuesday sessions and a bi-weekly Thursday session for those who live in the Wild West. Traffic patterns and recent familial additions made it difficult for those on the West side to make it to the more central or southern sessions, hence the change. Since then, while I have to admit that it is much more convenient for me to attend Tuesdays, and thus I tend to get to almost all of them, attendance in general hasn't improved that much. We now seem to have mega-sessions with more than six people, but when we don't it tens to be two, three, or four.

With the holidays coming up, and a bit more free time for people, we are planning more weekend sessions - a party this coming weekend, a gaming day over the Thanksgiving weekend, a 2-player game weekend (!) the following week, and another big session right after Christmas for those lucky enough to have that week off. As such, I expect the next several Tuesday/Thursday sessions to drop off a bit, although that isn't always the case. For some, attendance is tied closely to what sports they or their kids play in, so when soccer drops off after mid-November, there may be a rise instead.

Just some thoughts on attendance. As the founder of Rip City Gamers, I may take this sort of thing more seriously than many in the group, but I do understand that people are going to make choices on many many factors, many beyond their control. Children, for example.

Before I sign off, a quick update on the Great Game Purge. I think I've identified the "valuable" games on my list, including 5th ed Wiz War, Napoleon in Europe, and Frishfleishe. There were 125 games on the list, plus at least another six or seven that escaped me the first time. While many are barely worth the paper they are printed on, more importantly they took up considerable space. Several games have already been picked up by people in my group, which is nice.

Bit of a smorgasbord today, but there you go.


  • At 10:51 AM, Blogger mike said…

    This is my latest "issue" with the whole game night thing. I host all the game nights, and for a while I tried to have them every friday night (after much discussion about best night etc.). My core group is not large and attendance will vary between 2 and 10. But it varies a lot. And some people don't really want to come unless there are going to be a certain critical mass, and I don't really want to commit to keeping a whole evening free (and forcing my wife to accomodate guests, handle kid's bedtime etc) if only one non-gamer is going to show up for an hour or 2. So the week finds me emailing people, IM'ing, cajoling, trying to figure out who/how many are going to show up. Then come Friday it all fall apart with schedules changing, people feeling tired, kids sick, whatever. Basically I'm just getting tired of the whole thing...but then I don't get to play games.

    So I'm taking a little break..trying to put together some smaller sessions...kind of slowly coming to the conclusion that these folks aren't really gamers, and most of the time they'd just as soon do something else.

    So it's evangelize or wait for my kids to get older :).

  • At 4:21 PM, Blogger Mike said…

    > I also suspect that it's part of a marketing ploy by Hasborg to get people to buy yet another copy of Monopoly or Sorry

    As far as I can tell , the only Hasbro involvement is through Wizards of the Coast, which certainly isn't pushing Monopoly/Sorry. Eagle, Rio Grande, Mayfair, Days of Wonder, Avalance Press, and Cafe Games are all listed as sponsors, but who knows who the real organizers are.

  • At 1:38 PM, Blogger Dug said…

    Mike, I had a lot of problems like that when Rip City Gamers first got started. I sweated every Thursday that people were supposed to show up. And I don't have kids! We've learned that when people have children, especially small ones, they tend to stop showing up on a regular basis. I'm not complaining, just agreeing that it can be hard to maintain the level of involvement you might like.

    As you point out, critical mass does play a role, we recently cancelled our semi-annual weekend retreat in central Oregon for the first time in more than five years because so many people were going to be at Essen and/or had to cancel at the last minute.


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