Scheduling time to play…sounds strange, huh? With our busy daily routines, when do we have time to play? How do you make time to play? I’m not just asking about card and board games. What about playing outside or imaginative play? I bring this up because earlier this month the New York Times printed this article about the absence of play with today’s youth, and it got me thinking about ways we can encourage play.
Well, there are a lot of folks encouraging people to get out and play, and this one campaign stands out to me in particular. It’s called the Play in Public (PiP) Campaign. To summarize, it helps bring awareness about the board game community by encouraging people to play games in public where others can see them, and in turn inquire about (or join in an play!) the game. Want to know more? Here are some highlights from an interview I had with the creator, Kevin:
What made you decide to create the PiP campaign?
It started with the simple frustration of trying to explain the gaming hobby to people who weren’t knowledgeable about it. Everyone immediately thinks about Monopoly, Chess, or D&D. Most people have no idea that there is a large market of family and adult games flowing into the market. The community can either rely on the industry to market their way into the mainstream, or we can push our hobby into the limelight ourselves. I found it very frustrating for people to assume that I was sitting around home playing Boggle and Go Fish with my kids… there’s nothing wrong with this, I just knew this stereotype was blocking many others from exploring the fun of gaming!
Why do you think it’s important for people to get out and play, rather than just playing games indoors?
When people think of Chess and D&D, they understand that these are heavier games with intense focus and time investments. The goal is to overcome the assumption that games are either child’s play or brain burners. By playing in a public space, people can walk by and take a second look. They can approach with curiosity without worrying about having to understand the rules.
Are you pleased with the success of the campaign thus far? What do you need to help it grow?
Very pleased. I was surprised at the number of people that responded. I will admit that it was hard to keep the campaign running every single week, so I’ve pushed it to shift to a grassroots campaign. Every few days someone hears about the campaign and decides to try it themselves. I plan on organizing some activities again to reignite interest during the convention season in the summer, and if the right opportunities come along, I’d love to organize a flash mob in a city park. For example, imagine several hundred people playing games on the D.C. Mall!
Things to help it grow? Check out the page that coordinates what has been done to date and then try something yourself. If you are on the inside of the game industry, feel free to reach out to me and ask how you can help.
What are your top 5 places to play in public?
1- Any public space with a picnic table
2- Mall food courts
3- Pubs and restaurants
4- Hotel lobbies
5- Airports while waiting for flights
What are some of the best resources for folks to use if they want to find a gaming group in their area?
The local game store is typically the best place to start. These are the people who know their local community. Boardgamegeek.com provides a lot of information. After that, Yahoo Groups or Meetup may have local chapters listed. Sometimes local libraries and universities have groups.
Before checking out a group, try to make sure you understand the size of the group, their fee structure (if there is one) and the types of games they historically played before diving in. You want to find a group that will welcome the types of games you are interested in playing! If you are near Philadelphia, you could always contact me and come to one of my events!
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Gamewright also offers a program that encourages playing games in public. It’s called a Gamewright GameNight. The Gamewright GameNight program has grown leaps and bounds since its inception in 2005. Just to give you an idea of the growth, in 2005, we started with a mere 17 GameNights during the entire year. In 2010, we had 137 GameNights throughout the year!
A Gamewright GameNight is really about community-building through playing games, which makes it wildly popular with schools. The added bonus to GameNights is that the hosting organization receives 50% of the proceeds from games sold! In 2010 alone, the GameNight program raised over $50,000 for schools and other non-profit organizations.
The number one benefit to the Gamewright GameNight program is that it encourages people to sit down and play games together. We’ve heard from many families that they rarely have the chance to sit down with their kids and play a game face-to-face. A Gamewright GameNight is a great community building event and the perfect way to PiP. If you’d like more information about organizing a GameNight, email gamenight [at] gamewright [dot] com.