Gamers are everywhere, but surprisingly the biggest complaint we have is “I can’t find someone to game with me”. My poor wife has heard that too many times to count and has given in to my demands to play tabletop games with me, but I know her heart isn’t in it. She usually starts to get a “trapped animal” look in her eye and looks for a way to politely end the game early if it goes past 40 minutes.
I live in a rural part of Vermont and getting people together to play games usually means someone is driving an hour to go play. I was making a 50-minute trek across the state one day a month to play games and it pushed me to create my own group.
I needed a place to play games that met a few criteria:
- Family friendly
- A space with enough chairs and tables
- A location that was central to an area and community
- A place that was inviting and non-threatening
This lead me to contact our public library. It met all of the criteria, as libraries are usually a hub in the geography of a community. We started our monthly event at the Georgia Public library in Georgia Vermont and on the very first day I was told that if we got 6 people to attend that would be very good for a program. We got 17 people the first day.
Gamers will travel to play games!
The Library did not know it had this need to fill and was excited to be getting people from many towns away to attend this event. We have averaged 12-15 people at every event, with new people checking us out almost every month.
The library kindly advertises in the local papers and online as well. As word of our group spread other gamer communities started to list our event at the library on their sites and online pages and we have quite a large reach.
Mind you I thought I would be the only one playing games or teaching 1 or 2 people to play each month, I never imagined this kind of participation in only 7 months of existence.
The library helped get this game group going, and I decided the game group could help the library and others in our area. We knew libraries needed games for people to play if they wanted to host their own events but they didn’t know what to buy or were intimidated by the cost. Tabletop Games can run $20-$80 and come in big intimidating boxes.
I focused on contacting board game publishers to see if they wanted to donate to libraries to help them build their collection since the gaming community is a “community” after all.
Tasty Minstrel games donated 12 games within a week, and so did Asmadi Games (4 games). Alderac Entertainment (or AEG) donated 7 games, and 7 more came from Rio Grande games. Steve Jackson games and Gamewright games donated and many others. I was moved by the kind donations to spread the community of gaming.
So far to date, we have helped libraries secure donations for over 100 games. Spread between 7 libraries that is almost 15 games per library.
You can get free games! Get on that Libraries 🙂 Just remember to send them a thank you or a picture of the people playing their games.
International TableTop Day at the library is great, but tapping into the local gamer community can help you keep the momentum all year long. My advice is to have a game day, and then tap into that group of gamers and maybe you too can find your gamer champion who will help you carry that torch and spread the love of gaming in your community.
Travis Perry is the founder of the Franklin County Gamers group in Northern Vermont. When not serving on the local school board, hanging out with his family, or turning time into dollars, you can find him pushing his table top games on people. You can contact him at taperryvt at gmail.com.