A Board Game Revolution
Building a Real Life Gaming Community in the Digital Age
Hello there Plaid Hat Games fans. This is Jerry and Chad. We are co-writing a blog article to spread some information about a topic that has become extremely important to us: Community.
Jerry: Let me explain this a little further. We have to go back a ways to the late 90’s. See back then, there were very few of us "board/tabletop gamers". It was such a fringe hobby, you were really lucky if you met anybody else who happened to share your hobby interests. To meet others, you would need a local game store with space devoted to gaming. You could hang out in one of these stores and strike up conversations with other customers, and eventually build friendships. That's how I met my buddy Chad Hoverter back in '96. It's just how we did things back then.
Chad: Wow, Jerry! Talk about a blast from the past!! Yeah – when I moved to Dallas in ’96 I immediately began to hunt my local area for a game store. I think I found Gen X in North Dallas by looking in the stupid phone book. This tall, easy going dude would come in on the weekends after work (right next door, lucky dog) and trounce the crap out of my Tyranids with a fantastically painted Space Dwarf army or Imperial Guard. There, Jerry and I became good friends and we and others we met there would play at the store on the weekends and often go to a house or apartment for other games like Twilight Imperium and Shogun after the store closed.
Jerry: Back then, we would create organized play as a way to bring other players in to our store. We would plan tournaments, and use word of mouth and store flyers to advertise. The store would provide prize support. We eventually had a nice sized gaming group. But then, like so many others, our store went out of business, and as a consequence, our group fractured!
You see, the internet came along and online purchasing made staying in business more difficult for the traditional brick and mortar stores. It is near impossible for stores to compete with the prices and convenience offered online. Stores that relied too heavily on patrons to self organize gaming events, quickly found their events drying up, and along with it, the traffic needed to stay afloat. The board game hobby was fading away. Or was it?
Enter social media! Yes, the world is a changing, and we are right in the middle of that change. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter and community focused websites such as BoardGameGeek.com and PlaidHatGames.com have created an avenue for people of similar interests and locations to find others and quickly join in a community network! That's how Chad and I met JR Honeycutt, the founder of Dallas Fortworth Nerd Nighters.
Chad: The first I heard of DFW Nerd Night was at Gencon 2013. I heard these two guys, JR Honeycutt and Andrew Enriquez, were doing monthly get togethers in Arlington for charity and general gaming fun. When I got home I looked them up and got in touch with them on Facebook, where they invited me to be on their YouTube webcast. They also invited Jerry and I to our first Nerd Night, which we went to not really knowing what to expect. In short it was incredible, they had 150 people in JGilligans Bar in Arlington, all playing games, talking, having a good time! We sat right down and played several games. Jerry brought Krosmaster with him but neither of us had played it, so Andrew was gracious enough to take a few moment to show us how to play, because, ya know, that’s what we were all there for, to socialize and interact and play games, because that’s what we love. On top of all that goodness is JR, each month making sure that a local charity is seen and heard at the Nerd Night. He takes a moment each gathering to announce the Charity of the month and tell the people how to contribute if they like. Their motto is “We play games and help people” and they live by it. Rare in this day. I appreciate them and the awareness they bring to our hobby. And if that weren’t enough – there’s a raffle for prizes every Nerd Night, from full games to expansions and gaming aids. It really is amazing and just plain fun!
Jerry: Each month, the Nerd Nighters meet in a public venue to provide community, networking, gaming, and charity. I'm a busy father, husband, and workaholic. I don't have time to organize anything very regularly. It is so awesome to know that every month, upwards of 100-200 local gamers will be gathering to teach, play, and hang out. Store owners will be there to meet and promote their events. Everybody is warm and friendly, and since we all contribute to the Facebook group, there is familiarity and continuity. Nerd Nighters promotes buying local, gaming for charity, and community fellowship. Sometimes, even live music is provided!
Since joining DFW Nerd Night, I feel like I tripled the number of local gaming friends, and that is such a great thing, I really needed to share. Does your area have a healthy sized gaming community? What can you do in your area to build a strong and vibrant gaming community? How can Plaid Hat Games help? Are you interested in forming a Nerd Night in your area? These are questions, you should be asking yourselves.
I've talked some about this before. We are living in a new golden era of board games. The very thing that looked to destroy us, has become the greatest tool for bringing us all together. It is my firm belief that the future of our hobby hinges upon the efforts of groups like the Nerd Nighters. As a member of Plaid Hat Games, I want to make sure we are connected and supportive of groups like this. There are no losers here. Everybody wins.
If you'd like to start planning events in your area, feel free to use the event feature here on the Plaid Hat Games website! Its a great place to get started.
If you would like to inquire about the Nerd Nighters organization, and possibly start your own local Nerd Night group, check out the DFW Nerd Night official web site.
If you would like any assistance from a helpful guy who leads this nerd revolution, and really knows how to draw a community of nerds together, feel free to contact JR Honeycutt directly at [email protected]. He's done all the leg work!