Tips for running a games club

(DRAFT / Work In progress)

Games clubs / nights come in all shapes and sizes, from outwardly facing communities like Herefordshire Board Gamers who work hard to be inclusive and give back to the community to clubs which focus on just meeting and playing games.

Games clubs meeting in pubs, churches, scout huts and universities. They may focus on one kind of game only for example wargames, Warhammer, Role play games or magic the gathering.

I personally prefer expanding and sharing our hobby, providing free social activities and building a community, so to help with this I’ve created a number of suggestions of things you may want to implement or review to make your club what you want it to be.

That said please do not feel judged/ insufficient or inferior if you don’t want to implement these or if you are happy with how your current club is, as long as you have fun and helping others that’s great.

This guide will overlap with a previous guide which focuses on accessibility and inclusivity as there is a huge overlap.
https://herefordshireboardgamers.co.uk/what/how-to-run-a-great-games-night/


Planning and advertising

  • Clear Event details: When where, how much does it cost, where do you meet, what do you play, what do you need to know / bring. This is the same for online events.
  • Venue details: Photos of the gaming space, clear address, availability and cost of the food / drink including if you can or can’t bring your own. Accessibility notes, disabled toilets etc
  • Advertise on multiple channels, Facebook, discord and meet up. Ideally a website too.
  • Actually advertise! Reach out on Facebook and local communities. Ask your players to spread the word


The games night

  • Dedicated greeter: to welcome new arrivals and help them find a game to play. (For larger events a players wanted flag is a great idea)
  • Dedicated games teachers: players happy and skilled at teaching. These folks may end up teaching a lot of beginner or gateway games.
  • Identifiable ‘staff’: ensuring new and old players can see who is in charge if they need help
  • Games library: Games for people to play who don’t yet or can’t afford to bring their own.
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Games library for a 20 person games night, some games are always brought along to allow players to get familiar with them. Note the extra sign facing the entrance / foot fall
  • Flexible start time: Not starting big games bang on start time, i.e. play a round of social games like codenames which can support players jumping in. Arriving 5 minutes late to find everyone in prearrange games or locked into 2 hour games is not pleasant.
  • Event Signage: Clear signage to where you are playing, ideally outside the building signage near the players to invite others to join and interaction. We play in a pub and have a few signs to show players and passers by they are welcome to come and chat and join in. Seeing people deep in a game can be intimidating

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Clear signage, and lanyards for ‘staff’. There are club Tshirts but non ‘staff’ wear them and I don’t want them to feel pressure to be ‘on duty’ because they were our wonderful merchandise
  • Variety: Play and support a range of games
  • Accessibility and inclusion measures: Make the space as accessibility as you can, from wheel chair access, good lighting, low background noise to card holders and large print games
  • At the end of the games night publish a list of what was played, this is great for advertising and for players to remember the names of games they played
  • Free entry / donations. Price is a barrier to entry particular if you have to drive, pay for parking and buy drinks at the venue.

Extras

  • Games lending library: Games for people to take home and play, try before they buy (This is a large admin overhead and comes with substantial risk)
  • Friendly culture, where every is happy and empowered to help each other and give back
  • Give back to the community or charity
  • Empower and support your regulars: Create an admin team or committee people like to help and be involved, listen to their idea let them run and organise things……
  • Cliques and in jokes: These are unavoidable but keep an eye on them, they can be alienating and excluding to new players.
  • Governance and controls: Keep an eye on your standards, call out bad behaviour.
  • Publish guides and articles
  • Photos of the game and events.
  • Listen to feedback!
  • Play online or on other nights as well.

Closing thoughts


What is this list missing?
What else do you think your club should do?
What do you wish your club did?