From a business standpoint, community is everything. Buzz about products, word of mouth marketing, and fan based enthusiasm are all very important aspects of getting a small or targeted community excited about a company and a product. Never is this more true than in the RPG and tabletop gaming industry. Buzz and even hype about a company or a product line travels quickly through the grapevine, and the plethora of social media and online new networks dedicated to these communities has allowed gamers to interact with one another and learn more than ever before.
As my focus turns towards efforts that will eventually establish community and public venue gaming, I need to make sure to keep in mind that the community is what drives my efforts. While there are any number of business advantages to fostering a local gaming network, the real benefit comes from the news and the word of mouth excitement that such communities can create. If I take a step back and look at the other advantages of creating a gaming community that thrives and grows because it is out in the public for all to see, explore, investigate, and join.
Advantages to building a gaming community include:
1. Regularly scheduled gaming events. These events may not be the kind you find at cons or larger gaming events, but they can serve to energize a smaller community. A schedule means stability and importance.
2. A chance to branch out. Let's face it, gaming is a social activity. Despite the stereotypes that unfairly put gamers on a branch somewhere between high school football water boys and the short bus, we are incredibly intelligent, witty, and have better hygiene than most social "groups." We're social, and we're loud. And we like inviting new people in. With a few exceptions, I think we're all great people. Time to let the rest of the world really know that.
3. Trying new games. Everyone has their favorite gaming systems, but what if your new favorite is one community gaming session away? The best way for a community to grow is for everyone in it to accept that other people do play other games. Separating into the "D&D group" over there and the "Pathfinder group" at that table and the "NWoD table" and the "Savages" does a lot to foster divisions with a community based relationship. That kind of thinking is what has led to the RPG community being as fractured as it is.
There are always risks when attempting to foster or join a community like the one I am talking about. What we gamers need to remember is that we are social in nature and can last only so long sitting in front of our computers reading of the grand adventures of others.
My challenge to everyone, then, is to try to find ways to grow and expand your own gaming community. If you are already doing so, please share your successes and/or trials!
Article originally published for Tabletop Armory on January 4, 2010. Used by permission, as I am the original author.