The tabletop community is pretty awesome. And to me it’s home. It’s where I find myself laughing, excited and generally enjoying life. I’ve met so many wonderful people in this community and always look forward to the next gaming sesh.
As great as this community is, it’s important we continue to build it. I spoke about this in my last Goof’s Guide. But how do we build it? How do we bring people into our community? That’s what we’re talking about here today – Goof’s five tips to building the tabletop community.
- Be inviting
Think back to when you were first joining the tabletop community. Look at the overwhelming growth and expansion in the community over the past decade. It’s not always easy to breach something so complex and expansive for the first time.
Say hello when you meet someone, introduce yourself. If they’re new or looking shy then they’re probably more terrified than you are. I’m not saying your job is to become the store greeter, but to generally create an atmosphere of openness and joy which invites them to sit down at the table in the first place and feel they are welcome to come back.
- Be accepting
Sometimes people are going to make the wrong move. And it’s going to happen more often when they’re learning. Sometimes people are going to enjoy games you don’t (like Monopoly. Some people like it. And I have to find a way to live with that). By accepting people have different tastes, strategies and abilities, we acknowledge those people’s value in our community. If we fall into the trap of thinking our way is the only way, or we have to win no matter the cost of fun and enjoyment to others at the table, then we scare people away.
So let them make mistakes. Let them enjoy their games. It’s really of no detriment to you. And who knows, maybe you’ll learn something. The other night we were playing Forbidden Desert with some friends who hadn’t played it before. One of them came up with a simple solution which we more experienced players had never even considered (we still lost. Bloody game).
I’m going to be a little self-serving here. But engage with the community. Particularly on social media or sites like YouTube. The more people who engage, the more content which gets produced. So comment on YouTube videos, tell creators what you want to see. ‘Like’ Facebook posts and make sure to leave a comment. If you run a website, respond to people. Let them know you care about what they’re saying. By engaging on these platforms, we create an online presence and a continuation of the community when we can’t be at the game store. This keeps the buzz alive. Plus we find out about games we may not have seen otherwise, and enjoy watching people play the games we love.
One of the awesome things about this modern era is we get to help shape our online community and the content which gets produced. So make sure to tell people when you like their stuff, or comment what you’d like to see different. Invite your friends to like pages and share content. Seriously. People don’t mind. You might find someone in your social circle is actually interested in gaming but had never expressed so before. It’s not the sort of thing which comes up in casual conversation. And if people aren’t interested, they’ll do what most of us do with things on Facebook which don’t affect us – keep on scrolling.
In terms of engaging IRL, strike up interesting conversations. Join conversations others are having about games you know or find interesting. I’ve never known anyone to shy away from someone wanting to join a conversation about gaming. If it happens, it’d be few and far between. We’ve been at parties which have evolved into massive conversations and retellings of Dungeons and Dragons.
- Take time to teach
I won’t spend long on this point because I sort of covered it in the first two points, but take time to teach people games. And DO NOT take this to mean dictate a game to them or tell them every time they make a wrong move. Instead, teach them where the fun is. If the fun bit of a game is decking out your cool space ship the way you want to, then let them do it. If the fun bit is each contributing to a better cause, make sure their contribution is noted and welcomed. If you think you have something important to add to their turn, ask if you can provide them with some advice. If they say no, it’s okay. Let them direct their own learning.
- Take time to learn
People who are new to our hobby bring a different perspective. A fresh set of eyes on a world we often get caught up in. It’s worth not underestimating those people, and seeing what they can offer your gaming experience. Take time to learn from them. And learn from each other. Maybe there’s a group about to play a game you’ve never tried and they offer you a seat or need an extra player. Maybe the new player heard about this game they want to try, but it’s not your type. By giving things a go, we learn more about ourselves as gamers. Maybe we reinforce our dislike or certain games, or we see things from a different perspective and it gives us another strategy we can try somewhere else. But more than anything, it lets those new gamers find their footing in our hobby.
It’s interesting to think about whose responsibility it is to continue to grow the community. Some would argue it’s the companies who make more profit from having a larger community and need to advertise it more. Others would say it’s the player base, who need people to play with and with whom most new gamers will come into contact with as they start their journey. I’d argue it’s everyone’s responsibility. We all benefit from having more players, and every action you take – even something you may think of as inconsequential (like saying hello to someone when they come in store, or asking their opinion about a move at a cooperative game, or even just not shitting on the types of games a person likes/the experiences they have had) can have huge ramifications for the community.
Do you have any other tips? Let us know by posting a comment!
If you enjoyed this then share the joy on social media so others can enjoy it too. And check out our other reviews. They’re always good for a laugh.