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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 102 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Starting A Local Role-Playing Club -- Need Advice  (Read 5703 times)
Roy
Member

Posts: 153


« on: May 08, 2004, 10:21:40 PM »

I live in Northwestern Arkansas (near the University of Arkansas) and it's very difficult to get a gaming group together in this area.  The few gamers I know are always complaining about this as well.  I think it's time somebody does something about it, so I'm starting a local role-playing game club.

My goals are:
(1) support the local role-playing community
(2) bring new people into the role-playing community in our area
(3) encourage people to actually play role-playing games

I also have two personal goals:
(1) playtest my own game
(2) introduce people to indie role-playing games

I would appreciate any advice on running a successful club, including links to other threads I may have missed (Ron already pointed me to his Infamous Five threads).

Thanks in advance for your help.

Roy
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C. Edwards
Member

Posts: 558

savage / sublime


« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2004, 11:12:00 PM »

Hey Roy,

I lived in Arkansas for a short while, and met a few folks in the Little Rock Gamers Guild. That was a few years ago, so I couldn't tell you anything about its current status. I did find the their Yahoo Group though. Here's the link.

http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/lrgg/

-Chris
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Roy
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2004, 11:39:13 PM »

Hey, Chris!

Thanks for the link.  I'll see if I can get some advice from them.

Have you been involved with any clubs?  Did they do anything that worked really well or just flat out didn't work?

Roy

*Edited: spelling *
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Malechi
Member

Posts: 186


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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2004, 07:42:38 AM »

Hey there Roy,

Firstly I'm going to assume that when you say "Gaming club" you mean a place where people can become members and play games ...in one location.  Some gaming clubs i've heard of from the States are actually just groups of home games run at different locations but are called "Clubs" for RPGA purposes etc.  I know a bit about running a successful club in a smallish city.  I was a co-founder of "The Hall of Heroes and Heroines" here in Perth, Western Australia and also president for the first two years.  The city already had a few clubs but we found them to be a really really unfriendly especially to newbies. For some reason we were really really successful.  I think the tips below were probably why.

My first tip would be to make sure that someone who knows what the hell is going on to greet people who walk in the door *as soon as they arrive*.  This one little "thing" was what made us immediately different from all the other clubs in town.  Whereas during a so-called "Open Day" at another club you might expect to walk around for an hour before someone helped you out, we made sure you were looked after as soon as you looked around the place.  This has to be done in as non-retail-pushy-pushy a way as possible and if you can get genuinely friendly and socially capable (good luck) people to do it, all the better.  Old timers who know whats going on will more than likely say they're looking around for a game of XXX d20 or whatever but the most important people to come through to door are the newbies.  By making them feel welcome you're more likely to dispell those rumours that we gamers area  bunch of stinky losers who snort-chortle a lot at Six-of-Nine pictures on the net at night (however truthful that might actually be).  

My second tip would be to get organised.  Our club had over 150 members at one stage out of which we'd get up to 60 attending at any given session.  By making sure you have a location thats solid, can fit everyone in comfortably (noone likes to play a really cool Narrative game two feet from a bunch of screaming powergamers letting everyone in the Zip Code know how cool their new +45 Sword of Munchkinism is), that you can afford (this ties in with door-charge...later) and that isn't going to stink too much after 8 hours of gaming you're one step closer to having people come back for a second session.  Having a newsletter (i notice your other thread which i'll read later) or a webpage that lets everyone know whats going on each week, events in the area, what games are on, whats just released etc, you'll help to develop a community feel to the club.  Getting people to help out is a double-edged sword with this.  Firstly its cool cos you don't have to do all the work yourself, but secondly other people may not share you level of commitment or enthusiasm for the club, so you'll be left cleaning up after them (no spite there at all ;).  Make sure those that help you can be trusted to follow through.

Lastly I think price has to come up.  Those that game at home will wonder why they should pay to game somewhere.  If you can guarantee an environment that is all of the above (roomy, safe, secure and *CLEAN*) plus is a place  where they can go and get a session in without people bugging them (like parents, SOs etc) amongst other like-minded people, then you'll more than likely convince them to cough up the couple of dollars for the session.  Don't inflate this door-charge.  Some clubs do to make profit etc... but seriously think about how much the venue alone is going to cost you, factor in how many people attend on average (this is tricky in the first few months... be ready to cough up a bit to keep it going at first) and do the maths... keep it at around that level.  We made a point of making sure that attendance (paid once per day, not per session played during the day) paid for the rent.  We also sold cool drinks(soda), chocolates, crisps and noodle-bowls for the members.  We have a discount wholesale warehouse for businesses and places like sports clubs.. you know what? a gaming club just happens to qualify as a sports club..so we got a card.  Discounted soda, chips, choccies etc all helped us turn a tidy profit.  Where'd the money go? a gaming library!  We managed to build a library in the first year that had the core books of every game played at the club, plus splats etc, miniatures, battlemats and we also did photocopying *for free* for members.  Members paid a yearly fee that was pretty cheap with concession-card holders (youngsters and those on welfare of some description) getting a discount (AU$5 or AU$8).  Be sure you inform everyone of benefits of being a member (discount entry fee, free printing, newsletter/zines, discount entry into club events, discounts at local geek retailers!)... the retailers thing is really important.  If you can build up a relationship with these guys at the FLGS(s) you'll get your membership discounts sometimes, they'll provide you with prizes to your special game-days or mini-cons and they'll keep you up to date with whats coming in, so your membership will be well-informed.  Our FLGS even paid for our Zine to the tune of $50 a month.

Thats about it for now i guess.  In short, be newbie friendly, get yourself a good location and a bunch of people to help out who can be trusted, and make sure you know a bit of accounting to keep the place afloat.  The PR stuff is also important and make sure you advertise whereever you can (without stepping on any existing club toes).

hope this was helpful..sorry for the length..

Jason K....
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Katanapunk...The Riddle of Midnight... http://members.westnet.com.au/manji/
Roy
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2004, 09:46:18 AM »

Jason,

Thanks for the reply.  It was great advice and I appreciate you taking the time to type it.

Roy
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C. Edwards
Member

Posts: 558

savage / sublime


« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2004, 01:14:21 PM »

Hey Roy,

No, I haven't been involved with the inner workings of any clubs. My only advice would be that you need to be ready/able/willing to be "hands on" concerning problematic social dynamics among individuals.

Basically, there will be people that rub each other the wrong way and it will become a stink. Don't allow that to ruin the whole atmosphere of friendly gamesmanship that you probably want to convey.

-Chris
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Roy
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2004, 02:11:30 PM »

Chris,

Thanks for the input.  

Fortunately, that's an area I'm relatively strong in.  That's also the reason I'm not making the club a democracy with elected club officers.  I've seen a good role-playing club fall apart because of political manuevering that would have made Machiavelli proud.  

Great advice, everyone.  Keep it coming!

Roy
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Callan S.
Member

Posts: 3588


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« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2004, 05:46:31 PM »

Quote from: Roy
Chris,

Thanks for the input.  

Fortunately, that's an area I'm relatively strong in.  That's also the reason I'm not making the club a democracy with elected club officers.  I've seen a good role-playing club fall apart because of political manuevering that would have made Machiavelli proud.  

Great advice, everyone.  Keep it coming!

Roy


Oh CRAP, Jason already said the good stuff and you already know this. The democracy problem I only recently learned, as I fell out of a club in Melbourne which was 'democratic', but basically was just vulnerable to someone deciding to throw their weight around while chiding everyone else for not supporting the club/doing what they want. Excuse my catharsis. :)
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Roy
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2004, 12:25:47 AM »

Hey, Noon!

Don't worry about it ... we all need a little catharsis every now and then.

I hated seeing that club fall apart due to political in-fighting, but I have to admit it was interesting from a sociological perspective.  It was very odd, a lot like a group of noble houses jockeying for power within an unstated, yet understood, set of social rules.  It was almost as if it was a game in and of itself.  Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?  How do you prevent this from happening within a club environment?

Roy
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Malechi
Member

Posts: 186


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« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2004, 02:21:26 AM »

I'd like to say that our club was different... but it was not.

In it hey-day we were the biggest RPGA affiliated club around apparently.  We had regular attendances in the 50's and managed to have a newbie to old-fart ratio of about 3:1 ..which is great.

However politics comes into any facet of human life where people can sniff out "power" and there's kudos to be gained from doing "stuff".  Without any sour-grapes ... I decided to not stand for president one year and within a year it had been kicked out of its original venue and is now only operating once a month .. if you're lucky.   Money causes problems and thats where that trust thing comes in.  We were even legally incorporated and had a good accounting system going before the shit hit the proverbial fan.  Its still yet to reach rock bottom though.. but it saddens me to see its carcass kicking and screaming.. In many ways its sometimes more beneficial to have a beneavolent dictatorship in these circumstances.  Once you let go of the reigns you can no longer rely on your own perserverance to keep things going.

Jason K.
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Katanapunk...The Riddle of Midnight... http://members.westnet.com.au/manji/
Roy
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2004, 03:16:50 AM »

Hey, Malechi!

Quote from: Malechi
In it hey-day we were the biggest RPGA affiliated club around apparently...


That's interesting.  The club I'm referring to was very much into the RPGA.  Now, I realize that political manuevering is a basic human tendency, but does the RPGA influence actually make it more prominent?  Anyone have a take on this?

Quote from: Malechi
In many ways its sometimes more beneficial to have a beneavolent dictatorship in these circumstances.  Once you let go of the reigns you can no longer rely on your own perserverance to keep things going.


I can't agree with you more.  That's exactly what I'm going for.  It may seem cynical, but I know I can count on myself to do what's required and to maintain my integrity.

Thanks again for the discussion.  Great points.

Roy
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Malechi
Member

Posts: 186


WWW
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2004, 03:38:17 AM »

To be fair the "downfall" of the club came more as a result of ineptitude than anything to do with the RPGA.  Our involvement with the RPGA was intense for a period of time, however I had my own reservations about the sheer amount of book-keeping and the payoff in terms of the kind of adventures etc that they were putting out.  Added to the fact that being the remotest city on Earth meant we couldn't really compete with US clubs for their prizes as we didn't have any cons to accrue points at.  

In hindsight I wished I'd simply not called for elections and started the democratic ball rolling.  However I think I've had my club experience and whlie it was fun and rewarding at the time I'm finding home gaming to be ultimately more so.  

JK...
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Katanapunk...The Riddle of Midnight... http://members.westnet.com.au/manji/
Roy
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2004, 04:30:02 AM »

I've just posted a new thread on the goals for the club and the methods I intend to use to achieve them.  The thread is here:  Starting A Local Role-Playing Club -- Goals and Methods.

Please read it and offer any suggestions, additions, or corrections you may have.  I need all the help I can get.  

Roy
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Roy
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2004, 04:35:13 AM »

Jason,

Quote from: Malechi
However I think I've had my club experience and whlie it was fun and rewarding at the time I'm finding home gaming to be ultimately more so.


I agree that a small intimate group is more fun to play in, but I don't see club play and home play as mutually exclusive.  In fact, I see the club acting as a kind of incubator for home play.

Any advice on how I can encourage that?

Roy
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Malechi
Member

Posts: 186


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« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2004, 05:08:32 AM »

Hrmmm an interesting prospect.  What you're talking about then is some kind of hybrid between the lets say a distributed club where people play at home but are still members, and the centralised club where people play at the club itself.  Indeed we had many members who'd come and play for six months and then leave with a group they'd met at the club to play at home.  They'd still come and reregister as members and come to all our events etc.  How to encourage this? hrmmmm in our case it was something that just happened.  

Playtest groups could work well with this, design competitions where awards are given to groups who can design a kick ass module or new game system that could be playtested at home and later presented at mini-cons for everyone to have a try at.  Workshops and forums at the club were something that we found worked really well.  In fact I've been thinking of doing one on GNS and Protagonist play at the various clubs and cons around here for a while (need to get my arse into gear!).  

Anyone else have any ideas on this?
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Katanapunk...The Riddle of Midnight... http://members.westnet.com.au/manji/
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