College! You are finally free from the confines of your parents and your high school peers! You’ve taken your meager earnings and purchased the latest Fantasy Flight Games title tearing up the hotness bar on BoardGameGeek.com. You’ve meticulously cultivated a swath of lauded euro-game masterpieces from the likes Uwe Rosenberg and Vlaada Chvatil. The last piece of the puzzle? Finding a group of like-minded individuals to meet wits with you on the fields of battle, be they the shipping routes of 14th century France or the orc-infested mountains of Terrinoth.
…And on one is interested.
It’s a sad reality of the gaming hobby. You’re often going to be met with blank stares and confused looks when you tell someone your passion is playing board games in your free time. It can be very difficult for anyone to put together a stable, well-rounded group of players to explore the hobby. Luckily, we twenty something gamers have an advantage over our wizened and grey-haired counterparts: College! The vast myriad of social networking opportunities available to students means your pool of potential gaming peers is nearly unlimited. You just need to know where to look. Here are a few tips to help board and card gamers get out there and make some friends.
1. Be Willing to Make the Local Scene
If you’re lucky enough to be in a town with a friendly local gaming shop, become a regular. Make small talk with the staff, see what events they’re going to be hosting, ask what people are turning out to play. Yes, some FLGSs will cater almost exclusively to Magic: the Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh!, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find anyone there interested in a game of Pandemic. Remember, these are nerds who like fantasy and science fiction just as much as you do. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to politely approach them and see if they would be up for learning a new game or two.
2. Be Aggressive
Let’s talk about approaching people for a second. If you want to find a group of people to game with, some outgoingness is required. You can’t expect to show up to a comic shop with a box full of Battlestar Galactica expansions and assume someone else is going to ask to play a game. You have to be willing to put yourself out there and invite a total stranger to sit down with you for 45 minutes while you teach them a game they may have never heard of. Much like asking someone if they’d like to go on a date sometime, this can be pretty nerve-wracking, and there is just as much chance of rejection. Being aggressive doesn’t mean being a jerk when someone says no. It means politely saying, “No problem! Anyone else interested?”
3. Be Passionate
This part is actually pretty easy. Most nerds in general are very passionate about what they enjoy. Take that passion you have for gaming and use it to get others jazzed up for trying out a brand new game. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you approach someone with genuine excitement about playing a game, they will be far more inclined to give it a try. Even people who under normal circumstances would have no interest playing a hobby board game can sometimes be drawn into one by observing how much fun others are having. Let your passion for gaming come out and others will become curious as to what all the fuss is about.
4. Be Realistic
So you’ve followed these tips, put in the time and effort, but you just can’t get five players together for that great game of The Resistance you were dreaming of. It’s not the end of the world. Even if you’re unable to find more than one other person to play board games with, just think for a moment how many fantastic games there are for two players. And what about three? A quick visual basement of my own game shelf reveals several titles I would prefer with three players more than any other number. The same goes for four. If you have one or two passionate friends to play games with, then you’re already over the biggest hump of cultivating a game group. If you throw yourself into the great two and three player games out there, you’ll soon forget that you don’t have enough players for a 16 hour cut-throat Diplomacy play.
Well, I hope these small tips can help you expand your play group and enjoy the hobby. It may see daunting at first, but cultivating a good game group is all about realistic goals and determination. Join me next month, where I’ll discuss how you’re supposed to keep up with the latest and greatest games when you can barely afford Ramen noodles for dinner. Gaming on a budget for a twenty something! Until next time, The d20Something.