If you’re a student, particularly in higher education, it can be very difficult to find the communities for you. If this is the case, consider creating your own tabletop gaming club! Board games are a fantastic way to meet people and build lasting friendships. While it might seem intimidating to begin such a process, I can attest that it’s an incredibly rewarding experience. I’ve founded three successful gaming clubs and am excited to share my experience with you.
Below are the steps you need to make an awesome club. Campus policy may vary so be prepared to reach out to your counselors with questions.
The first step to building your gaming organization is to do your due diligence. Check your school or university’s website for a page on student organizations. Use the search bar to find terms like “student organization,” “club,” or “student life.” You’re looking for information about the steps needed to form a club. If possible keep your eyes out for a list of clubs. If you find one be sure to check the list for existing board games clubs. You wouldn’t want to spend the time and effort to create an awesome club if one already exists!
2. Meet with a Counselor
You might have scoured the web for info about how to to start your club, but it never hurts to get the facts straight from the horse’s mouth. It shouldn’t prove difficult to find a department responsible for clubs or a specific point of contact online. Once you’ve found your club counselor be sure to schedule an appointment to discuss the finer details or simply get the ball rolling.
3. Find Partners
If you’ve gotten this far in the process you’re obviously dedicated. However, no one should run an entire club by themselves. In fact, most school’s require you have at least 2-3 other people. If you don’t already know a group of board gamers on campus to draw from consider throwing an impromptu gaming event somewhere on campus. Promote the event online by searching for campus event pages on Facebook. If all else fails enlist your friends or classmates! You can’t stress that the officer position is strictly temporary for, as events stack up, you’re sure to find other passionate gamers.
Some schools might require the support of a faculty advisor. Be sure to reach out to your favorite professors and teachers for their help.
4. Sign Forms
Boring, yes; but also important. To be an official student organization you need sign a few forms. Be sure to get your new officer friends to sign up as well. Once you’re done and the paperwork is sent off, you need only wait for confirmation that you’re official club.
5. Your First Game Night
For your first event make sure to prepare far ahead of time. Ask your counselor how to book a room on campus. Try to avoid classrooms as desks are a poor playing surface. Many local businesses would be happy to host you as well.
Arrive at least 15 minutes before hand to catch those early birds. Make it obvious you’re playing games in that space by putting up posters or stacking a pile of games. If you’re not blessed with a particularly large game collection ask players to bring games of their own. Get the word out with the tips below.
6. Promoting the Club
To get the word out about your organization you need to do some marketing. Create a Facebook page with events and information, request a table on campus thoroughfares, and pass out flyers and put up posters. Be sure to involve local friendly game stores by seeing if they have a notice board you can post to. Another great way to get new members is to partner with other clubs to help them run game nights of their own.
7. Preparing for the Future
To build a long term student organization requires consistency. Be prepared to dedicate several hours each week to game nights, meetings, and promoting. Delegate roles to officers and be sure to thank them for their help. In the future consider opening up the opportunity for elections to various positions within the club. This will help with succession once you inevitably move on.
To have a large array of games ask your counselor about the possibility of funding. Most colleges set aside funds for clubs to use at their discretion. While frankly a bit ridiculous, my organization, Board Games at Berkeley, receives $500 a year from UC Berkeley. Go to sites like Goblinbros.com for cheaper-than-normal games. Also consider reaching out to game publishers for donations in return for highlighting their games at game at your events.
Most of all, don’t lose your passion! Every community has gamers, whether the players know it or not. While it may be difficult in the early months to find club members I guarantee that you’ll quickly develop a cadre of players. Most importantly you’ll have done a great service to your community, creating a space wherein people can make new relationships over the shared love of gaming. Good luck!