How to run a great games night and make it inclusive and supportive of well being and neurodiversity

There is no perfect answer to this but the following tips, should create a welcome friendly environment. Everyone likes to know the lie of the land, the basic rules and what to expect but more so if you have anxiety, autistic tendencies or a number of other issues.
So double check and make sure everything is clear even down to signage and drinks options. Set and manage expectations

Step one: Prepare:

1) Advertise, find your players but clearly set expectations of the kind of games being played but also cover the administration.
a. Where, when, what food and drink is available what is the cost?
2) Take requests for games and ask if people are bringing games to teach.
3) Send out rules videos or lists of the games being played so people can research
4) Include photos of the venue and gaming space.
5) Provide a second private channel for information and feedback. (Messenger) to answer questions before the event

Step two: The night

1) Ensure the venue is well signed so you are easy to find. I include A4 laminated signed the whole way
2) Friendly greeter to welcome all guests to assign them to an appropriate game and game teacher.
3) An appropriate game is dependent on the gamer but be aware of:
a. overly competitive games,
b. overall complex games for new games.
c. games which are too extrovert or social and / or involve lying and bluffing.
d. Game which rules change too much, having known and controlled rules can be more comfortable.
4) The game teacher should be patient but also enthusiastic and welcoming
5) Ensure the venue has appropriate lighting,
6) Enough space between the gaming tables.
7) Control the noise including reducing or eliminating background music (Provide space between games helps with this, we also separate the louder social games and the more thoughtful euro games).
8) Be patient and tolerant, gamers with additional needs may be harder to please, may not react to social cues.
9) Ensure staff are identifiable. (Even having a different colour lanyard or badge)
10) Name stickers or name tags for all guests removes the pressure of asking or remembering names.
11) Provide a quiet or quieter space for people to unwind or decompress.
12) Include a flag or player match making system to make finding gamers easier if you don’t have an active host arranging this.

Step three: The growth

1) Grow and nurture the culture to be friendly, inclusive and welcoming.
2) Ask for feedback
3) Allow volunteers to step up and be involved. (Ownership of tasks and feeling of belonging)
4) Do not take rejection personally, even with perfect planning you cannot please everyone. Doubly so if people have additional issues.

This is not a once size fits all guide everyone is different and i am a gamer with an interest in inclusivity and making sure everyone has a good time not a medical professional. Hopefully these tips will help, they are mostly obvious.

It is also worth considering, players with vision issues including colour blindness, picking game carefully, marking up components, swapping components out or just helping to read public or open text.

Happy gaming!

This is work in progress so I’d love any feedback or comments.

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Charity Events 2018 for Herefordshire Mind

Herefordshire Mind is our Charity for this year (until our birthday in July)

Our mega charity day is May 19th at the core.  https://www.facebook.com/events/358455677932846/ 

Our last event in May 2017 raised over £525 https://www.facebook.com/events/267697156991655

We are attempting at 24 hour game a to on March 3rd, it could be interesting. the donation page is here  https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/24hourgameathonhereford

We also have a mini charity game day on March 31st 12 hours gaming for a small donation of £2 to Mind  https://www.facebook.com/events/164900904245291/

Overall I really want us to raise £1000 this year for Mind, any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

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Player quotes from the Charity Board Game Day

As well as raising a load of money for charity, the day serves as a great recruitment drive for gamers, and provides a safe space for shy or introvert gamers to try us out.

Here are some quotes from the players on the day;

Emily (Attended with husband and teenage daughter)Well Rob and I only recently found out about the Herefordshire Board Gamers and had not managed to get to a meeting to introduce ourselves in person, although we had said hello on Facebook and you all seemed like a friendly bunch. We came along to the charity day with our youngest offspring and a fellow ‘newbie’ gamer and were really pleased with the super friendly welcome. I’m a long term sufferer of anxiety and depression so approaching new groups is not always easy. However we stayed over 6 hours! We met some new people and even learnt some new games! Along the way we hope that we contributed to a great cause close to my heart. Thanks HBG we are looking forward to the next meeting

Emma (attended alone)After looking forward to the charity board games day for a long while I was not disappointed. The function room was full – evident of a thriving board games scene in Hereford. There were plenty of games available to play and no shortage of people to play them with. The event was very well organised with the most exciting raffle in the universe, an auction, bring and buy and merchandise table.”

Michael (attended with young daughter) “it was so great to see these gamers doing what they do best, bringing people of all ages, walks of life and experience levels together in the spirit of fun and play

If you have any comments or feedback please send them our way!

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Charity day summary! Over £500 raised again!

Final count for the Third Annual Board Game Charity Day is £526.51 huge thanks to my team, all of our players, and our sponsors Imperial Hereford, Basically Wooden, Surprised Stare Games Ltd, The Black Lion, Wise Owl Toys, Worcester, Beer in Hand, Left Bank and DellCon

I am looking forward to a lot more games with your all over the new few months and years, growing this community and doing good work with Herefordshire Mind.

We had 48 gamers and we played at least 27 different board and card games. If you want to know more about games the club or to work with us please let me know. We have over 30 players nearly constantly playing from from 2pm to 9pm! Am amazing turn out, atmosphere and day!

We played; Plague Inc. Terror in meeple city. 6 nimmit. Codenames. Secret Hitler. Inis. Villages of Valeria. pandemics. Tsuro. Junk art. New Bedford. Stone age. Robot rally. Qwirkle. Roll for the galaxy. Arboretum. My first carcossonne. Castle for all seasons. Keyflower. Cube quest. Unfair. Telestrations. Tap tap penguin (penguin trap). Lords of water deep. Walking Dead card game (6 nimmit) Mysterium

I can still accept donations for Mind if you are feeling generous and think we did a good job.

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Board games, depression and me. Another voice.

Good friend of Herefordshire Board Gamers and founder of the Great Indoors and Bromsgrove Board Gamers, Peter Hazlewood has kindly offered to tell his story as well.

I have suffered with depression for a number of years now; it’s hard to say exactly how long. Thankfully, unlike millions of other similarly-afflicted people in the world, I’m a board gamer. Out in the real world, being an introvert hinders my ability to make friends and depression and anxiety symptoms have done nothing to improve this. If you can relate to this then my first piece of advice would be to go to a regular gaming group. Emma and I had lived in Bromsgrove for 4 years by the time I formed Bromsgrove Board Gamers. How many good friends had I made in that time? Not many. Fast forward another 3 years and we have made some great friends, all through the joys of gaming.

Socialising with people I’m not hugely familiar with can be daunting. What do I talk about? Will we have anything in common? Well, if you’re with gamers then you have the answer to both of those questions. Even if you’re not with card-carrying hardcore board gamers, playing something fun can be the ultimate ice-breaker. There aren’t many people out there who genuinely don’t enjoy games and we sometimes use them as the focal point for an afternoon or evening.

Without the joy of board games in general, and the friends I play them with in particular, I have no doubt that I would be in a far worse state of mind. If I need company, or someone to offload on, or maybe just something to take my mind off things, then I play a game with the people I love. So if you are having difficulties or know somebody who is, then talk to people. Play games. Honestly, it helps.

Originally posted here https://great-indoors.co.uk/blog/why-making-friends-is-hard-for-me-but-rewarding

 

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Board games, depression and me

Hello. My name is Mike and I am a board game addict. As a child of the late ‘80s games have been a part of my life. From computer to board, card, even pen and paper RPGs, games have always been there. Computer games and RPGs provide an escape from reality and card games have a strategic element to them. Board games bring something different to the table, sometimes quite literally. Each person addicted to board games has their own reason and I would like to explore my reasoning with you. 

About two years ago, I was diagnosed with depression. I was starting to become an adult. I was starting to think about my career, where I wanted to go and I had a small group of friends, but we were a tight nit group. My career plans hit snag after snag, my friend circle started drifting apart and I was going no where fast. With help and support I got through the dark times. 

Mike’s Beddie (Like a Shelfie but more comfortable)

I bet your wondering where board games come into this? Well, while board games didn’t help me get through the depression (I do not doubt that board games could have helped me and do help others) they did help me heal afterwards. Once I came through the other side of the tunnel, my world had changed. I had changed. My friend circle was still there, but the connections had changed. To some degree, I felt like an outsider and I still do on the rare occasion we meet. I tried to fix it, to get it back to how it was, but I just couldn’t. I tried meeting new people and making new friends, but it wasn’t the same. It felt forced and contrived. 

It got to the point where I was going out and socialising once a week, if that. The majority of my days were spent working or sleeping and the nights were spent working or snuggled up with YouTube. I saw an advert for a board game charity day and I saw this as an opportunity to get out of my rut before depression crept back in. I get my rota and find out I’m working. Boo! The same group ends up setting up a monthly board game evening. I manage to find the courage to attend and I’m warmly welcomed into the group. From there, I was invited to another games night and welcomed into that group also. At first, I wondered if I was just there to make up the numbers, but I quickly realised that the people around me enjoy my company and I enjoy theirs.  

So, while board games didn’t help me, personally out of the darkness, they have provided a life line to keep me out of the darkness, by providing me with new friends, new experiences and new motivation. That being said, board games haven’t done much to help my collecting addiction. This time last year I had one game and now I have twenty, but that it a story for another time…

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