Playing board games is a social event. A great majority of the time, people are part of a large group of gamers, with smaller subsets of gamers that break off and will play games together more frequently. When you’re traveling to new locations as much as my wife and I are, that can make gaming difficult. We love when we are traveling back to Michigan because in addition to other friends and family, we get to see our gaming groups. We are fortunate enough to be a part of a group that consists of over 850 members online (however the number of active gamers is closer to 100 people), with almost 25 gaming events per month. Before we began traveling, we would play games roughly 3-4 nights per week, with certain stretches where I played games 9 or 10 days in a row. When you’re no longer around your game group, it can make the thought and process of gaming difficult. One of the first things I look up and research when I begin to look at new job placements is if the community has game stores and if they have a game group listed online. Several people have pointed me to BGG for the threads of regional gaming groups, but I’ve found the best place to locate new gamers is Meetup.com. I always browse their web page to see how many events they have available per week and how many people attend the events. This isn’t a great strategy because many times, people will come to events but won’t RSVP, so you can’t get a hugely accurate feel for what to expect. Either way, just having a meetup group is typically a good sign.
That didn’t happen when we traveled to South Carolina. The town that we went to didn’t have any active gaming groups that I was able to locate, and the nearest FLGS (Friendly local game store, to those new to the hobby), was located almost an hour and fifteen minutes away. As weird and petty as it may sound, this caused a little more stress in my life than I had imagined it would. I realized just how important the socializing that accompanies gaming had become for me. Many nights my wife and I sat at home wishing that we had some friends that we could game with, while missing all of our friends back home. It made me realize that gaming is such a great hobby because, as obvious as it may sound, it requires interaction and socialization. Sure, you will always have people who prefer to focus solely on the game, but a majority of times I get together with friends to play games, we spend at least half the time hanging out and chatting.
Never take your gaming group for granted. Like most things in life, you don’t realize how nice it is, until you don’t have it anymore. You’ll miss it. I promise.
Have you ever moved or traveled to a new place to find out it didn’t have a gaming community? If so, how did you deal with it?