Finding a Gaming Group

This week, Cassi gives us some of her personal tips for finding new people to game with.

"I love this game, but I'll never have anyone to play it with!"

A common complaint in the board gaming hobby is that it usually requires real people meeting face to face in order to enjoy, and gaming groups can be tough to find. But that doesn't mean you should give up! I have met many wonderful people to game with over the years, and here I'll be sharing some of the tips I’ve picked up for getting games to the table and introducing newbies to the hobby.

First up, is how to find people to game with. One of the easier methods is to extend an invitation to those you already know but who, perhaps, aren't into gaming. You'd be surprised at how easily people get into it with the right game. Especially with older family, there's still a general misconception that Monopoly and Clue are the only games worth playing. My in-laws played Qwirkle while RVing in Alaska. They loved the simple yet addicting gameplay, so we played it again the next time they visited. I then offered to teach something a few steps up in complexity, but they were in for a treat, as we all had a blast playing Betrayal at House on the Hill. I've also introduced my husband's coworkers to modern board gaming, and they've been thrilled by newer hits like Century: Golem Edition and Tokaido. So don't dismiss acquaintances and family as potential inductees to the realm of gaming!

Here’s a tip for gaming with a generally non-gaming group: be prepared with a good variety of games, with straightforward mechanics that you also know how to explain well. "Gateway games", as they are commonly referred to, are games that are many people's first step into modern gaming; titles such as Catan, Carcassonne, or Ticket to Ride are good examples. I like to introduce people to the hobby with games that deal with a single game mechanic really well, or that are cooperative or semi-cooperative, so that the new players can be helped, not necessarily because they're a poor player, but because it's part of the game. My personal gateway game short list is: Space Base, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Sagrada, Fairy Tile, Clank!, Century: Golem Edition, and Celestia. Substitute my picks with any of your favourite games with similar mechanics and you've got a gateway game section to get people coming back for weekly game nights at your place!

What if you've tapped out family and acquaintances and want to make new friends? Well, the great news is that there's plenty of fun places to play in St. Albert and the Edmonton area. I've gone to many events at board game cafés, which gave me the opportunity to try  out games I might not have otherwise played and make new friends to game with. I know that it can be difficult to put yourself out there and ask people to hang out, but in the wise words of Shia LaBeouf: "JUST DO IT! DON'T LET YOUR DREAMS BE DREAMS." Making friends is a skill and you level it up by asking. Either way, you get the experience and it gets easier at higher levels.

Another great venue for making new friends is board gaming conventions. We're blessed with an abundance of excellent cons in the Edmonton area, including the fantastic Game-a-lot board gaming fundraiser every October. Many of the folks I've met in my various gaming groups I first made contact with via playing together at conventions and exchanging info. We also have events at the store here where people can come and play with new people, such as our puzzle tournaments, Pokemon and Magic groups, Edmonton Board Gaming League (a.k.a EBGL - though not hosted by us, they are a fantastic group of people to play with!), and various promotional events throughout the year (check out our Events Calendar for more information on what events are happening this month). And as mentioned before, there's also many board game cafés where you can try games out, meet new people on open gaming nights, and eat tasty food and drink.

Hopefully, I've given you some ideas for where to find new gaming buddies, as well as the confidence needed to put together your own gaming group. Know your gateway games, don't be afraid to make friends, and go to events! I believe there's many friends waiting to be made in our wonderful hobby!

Cassi, Class of Gateway Gaming '04
26 Apr 2019
Cassi Brown
Of course I'd mention EBGL, y'all are so fun to play games with!
26 Apr 2019
Rob (EBGL Organizer)
Thanks for the shout out for the EBGL!
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