In the previous post, I talked about my first gaming meetup. In these next two posts I want to talk to you about your first gaming meetup and give you some ideas about what to expect and some advice on how to make it the best experience possible.
One of the most important things about going to a meetup is to know the environment you’re going to. Is the meetup at someone’s house? Is it at a gaming store? The location of the meetup is actually pretty important, because a meetup at someone’s house will be very different from a meetup at a gaming store.
In this post, I’m going to talk about Meetups at a Gaming Store.
Something I should point out is that there is some crossover between attending a meetup at a Gaming Store and a meetup at someone’s house. However, sometimes the same type of advice is not exactly the same advice, so read carefully to see the differences.
1.Think About Hygiene
Probably the most important thing here. Take a shower, put on deodorant or antiperspirant, and brush your teeth. Bringing a pack of gum or breathmints is not a bad idea either. No one wants to play games with someone who stinks, especially if they’re meeting you for the first time. There’s no excuse for this one.
2.Pack Some Games
Bring along some games that you want to play and that you can teach to others. This gives you an excuse to talk to people (“Hey, would anyone be interested in playing 7 Wonders?”) and it guarantees that there will be a game you want to play. It’s a good idea to bring different games, meaning games that play very differently or use different mechanics. This way, if someone isn’t interested in one of those games, one of the others might be more up their ally.
One of the big differences between attending a meetup at a gaming store, as opposed to someone’s house, is that there will likely be a lot more people, which means more than just one game being played at a time, especially if the meetup is popular. This means that several groups will be playing games at once, and you’re more likely to be able to get into a game, or get other people to play the games you brought.
3.Scout the Location (if you can)
If you have a chance to visit the location and talk to the employees, and get familiar with the place beforehand, you’ll at least be comfortable with the environment on the day of the meetup. What you’ll want to look for is: friendly employees, a good amount of table space, what snacks/drinks are available and how much they cost, what restaurants are nearby, and if you’re looking to buy some games, the selection they have available and their prices.
Something you might want to ask the employees is where the board game players usually meet. That way you won’t be stumbling around trying to find them on the day of the meetup.
Another good idea is to find out if they allow outside food/drinks into the store.
4.Bring Some Money
Bring some money to buy snacks or drinks from the shop. Depending on when you get there and how long you plan on staying, you might get hungry for some real food, so having money to go to a restaurant (even if it’s just Taco Bell) is not a bad idea. Alternately, pack a meal, but maybe still buy a snack or drink to support the gaming store, after all, they’re letting you use their tables. Money is also a good idea if you’re looking to buy games/accessories while you’re there.
Also keep in mind that some Gaming Stores have a minimum credit/debit card purchase (meaning you have to spend a certain, minimum, amount if you pay by card), so you might want to bring cash if this bothers you.
Etiquette at a gaming store is a lot more lenient than at someone’s house. For one thing, it’s a public place, and the only real rules for etiquette are whatever rules, if any, the store itself requires. That being said, etiquette is still important.
If you want to watch a game being played, ask the group if they mind. If you want to look through a rulebook or borrow someone’s game, ask. If you’re playing someone else’s game, ask if you can riffle shuffle the cards (don’t assume that you can, because some people will get very upset with you for doing this.) Ask if you can help set-up the game or clean up after the game is over. Generally speaking, if you’re unsure about something, just ask.
2.Respect Other People’s Games
As I said above, some people don’t appreciate you riffle shuffling their cards. This extends to showing respect for their games. Be gentle with the components and be careful not to bend or tear cards. People pay a lot for games (often upwards of $50). And if you do accidentally bend a card or tear a page of the rulebook, apologize.
Don’t curse unless the other people at the table are cursing, and even then, try to keep it to a minimum. You’re in a public place. Someone could be offended. If it’s in the spirit of the game, that’s one thing, but if you’ve got the mouth of a
sailor middle schooler, keep it to a minimum. Even if the other players are okay with cursing, it can still come across as rude or annoying if every other word that comes out of your mouth is a curse word.
4.Separate Eating and Gaming
Many people don’t like when people eat during or around their games for various reasons. Crumbs, sauce, grease, and other foodstuffs can damage components. Even if the components don’t get damaged, it’s rude to drip sauce or crumbs onto someone else’s things. Eat in between playing games, not during games.
Try to avoid open drink containers around games as well. Spilling soda, tea, coffee, or even water onto a game board or cards can cause permanent damage, and the owner of that game might expect you to pay to replace it. Avoid the situation entirely by keeping open containers far away from the board, or even on the floor (just remember they’re there, so you don’t kick them over). Alternatively buy bottled soda/water if you need to have a drink during a game.
And remember, if you are eating, wash your hands before you start a new game.
What You Might Not Expect
1.All Sorts of Gamers and All Sorts of Games
There are lots of types of gamers. Some love Eurogames, some love Ameritrash games, others will only play TCG/LCGs, and some are a mix of all of these. And there’s plenty more I haven’t mentioned. You’ll probably see all of them at your meetup, even if they’re not there for the meetup itself (especially the TCG players). But the types of games they enjoy isn’t the only thing that defines them.
Some people take games very seriously and enjoy gaming purely for the strategic aspect and the mental challenge, and less so for the social aspect. Some gamers are only there for the social aspect. Some gamers take games very seriously and will really get into it, taking backstabbing and alliances very seriously. Some gamers are more casual and just want to have a good time whether they win or lose.
My point is, expect a lot of variety in the different players who attend the meetup. And likewise, expect a lot of different types of games. If you know what you like to play, try to find someone else who shares your interests. If you’re still new to the hobby, maybe try a variety of different games.
2.A Sense of Community/Friendliness
This one might just be my experience, but I’ve found that with other gamers, there is a sense of acceptance within the community. What I mean is, when I started going to meetups, I very quickly felt like I belonged there. Nobody made me feel like a “noob” or didn’t take my opinions or suggestions seriously because I was new. I felt like I was on their level, even if I was new to the hobby.
I would also say that I’ve found a very strong sense of keeping everyone happy. What I mean is, I’ve always found that, whatever group I’m playing with will try to pick a game that everyone wants to play. There’s very little “I’m gonna play this, if you don’t want to, go find another game.” It’s always “let’s all agree on the game.”
In general, the gaming community seems to be very friendly and willing to bring new people into the hobby and make them feel welcome.
3.The Number of Games/The Price of Games
If you’re new to the hobby, you might not know a lot of games. Depending on the location, you might find shelves filled with hundreds of titles you’ve never heard of before. Sometimes the selection will be smaller, sometimes larger, but you’re likely to find some stuff you’ve never heard of.
In addition to the sheer number of games available, you might be surprised by some of the prices for games. A lot of games fall into the $50-$60 range and some even get up to $100 or more. For this reason, you’ll likely be better off buying the same game online from Amazon or Cool Stuff Inc.
4.Some Games Take a LONG Time to Play
If you’ve only played some gateway games like Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, or Catan, you might be surprised that some games can go on for 2, 3, even up to 5 hours. So before you sit down to play a game, you might want to ask and find out just how long the game is.
If you’re okay with playing a longer game, or you’ve never had the experience, maybe don’t let it be a turn-off, and give it a try.
Most of the people you see there will probably be within the 20-40 year old range, but you’ll also likely see young kids, teens and older adults. And, while the gaming hobby is mostly guys, you’ll likely see a fair number of girls as well. In addition, people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds will likely be present. Really, the demographics for “gamers” are pretty diverse.