Cardboard Children: Downtime Town?

By Robert Florence on September 25th, 2011 at 8:07 am.


Hello youse,

I had an idea.

Ever since I started talking about boardgames, from Downtime Town to Cardboard Children, people have been telling me the same thing. The same thing. Again and again. The same thing.

“This is all well and good, man. But I have no-one to play with.”

And it’s a problem, you know? It’s a genuine problem. I usually provide a jokey answer, make light of it, laugh it off. But it’s a problem. Listen, people who love board games and card games exist. We’re out here. But we’re spread here there and everywhere. We come together through online communities, on websites like www.boardgamegeek.com and www.fortressat.com, where we share our excitement about games and just generally shoot the shit. But that’s the problem with the stuff we’re into – you can’t play them online. Not the way they should be played anyway. You have to be there in the flesh, in the room, doing the thing for real.

“This is all well and good, man. But I have no-one to play with.”

It’s a problem.

Recently I set up a media production company ( www.boldyin.com ) with my writing partner Iain and my girlfriend Joanne, who was part of the Consolevania team. We’re a company with a focus on collaboration. See, myself and Iain have been writing professionally for 15 years. And as most writers will understand, the bulk of those 15 years were spent trapped inside four walls, tapping words out on a keyboard. With our new company we decided to break away from that. We wanted to meet new people, push forward group writing, and collaborate. And it’s been amazing. We’re off to an unbelievable start. It’s not just the work, it’s the people. We’re making new friends, hearing about new things, having fun. Since we started Bold Yin my social circle has expanded like crazy. All great people, all wanting to collaborate and get to know each other.

Now, Iain told me about the whole Jelly! thing last year. If you don’t know what this is, go and have a read here. Basically, a guy invited some strangers to come and work in his house. It was exactly the kind of thing we were trying to explore. That whole notion of sharing and socialising and shooting the shit and making things happen, with people we didn’t know yet. We didn’t have any Jelly meetings, not exactly, but we loved that it was happening and that it seemed to be working. It helped inform what we did with our company. It made us think that yes, this approach was right.

And then, a couple of months ago, I thought to myself: Is this the answer to that OTHER problem?

And it is a problem.

“This is all well and good, man. But I have no-one to play with.”

It’s a tragic thing to read. We wouldn’t stand by and do nothing when a child tells us they have no-one to play with. Why just shrug and walk away when an adult says the same thing? Play is important. Play is more important than work. Through play, whether it be a poker game or a five-a-side football game with friends, we grow closer to other people and learn more about them. We hear alternative opinions on things, and learn stuff.

Why do we play board games? It’s because we like to be with people, right? And where do we play board games? Anywhere. And what happens when you play board games? You laugh, and you chat, and you socialise, and you go away feeling good about the people you were with. Game nights are a collaboration of sorts – people working together to create fun.

What if we tried to encourage people to organise game nights? What if we tried to encourage people in every city, everywhere, to organise regular little game nights where new people could pop along and play some games, or just shoot the shit? What if there was a place in every city where a guy or girl who wanted to play some games could find other people in the same boat?

Let’s go further. What if it was more than just a games night? What if it was somewhere where you could talk about your work, and your other hobbies, and share ideas, and be inspired by other people? What if it was a place where you could share stuff, over a game or two?

Let’s go further. What if it was a community? What if all these groups, in all these different places, all knew about each other and spoke to each other and did things with each other? What if they shared RPG campaign ideas with other groups? What if one group maybe designed a board game, and another group playtested it? What if we raised money for charity? What if each group did a podcast? What if we all tried to attract more people into board gaming?

What if we tried to make the online tabletop gaming community that exists on the web a physical thing? What if we tried to bring everyone back to the tables? A place. A happening. A real thing. A shared thing.

I tried to think of a name for it. A regular meeting place, where people make the time to come along and relax with some games with friends. A place that is an escape from work. A place where people come in their downtime.

I realised I already had a name. Downtime Town. I had the name, I had the web address. That old website is dead. Any board game writing or videos I do will be on RPS from now on. So, I could easily just change the website so that people could use it to notify others about their own little Downtime Towns all over the place. Exactly what that new website should look like we can talk about later.

So what is a Downtime Town? Is it this?

DOWNTIME TOWN

In your city, there is a Downtime Town.

It’s a place where people meet to play games and chat about their life and work.

It’s a place where new friends are made.

If there isn’t a Downtime Town in your city, maybe you should be the one who builds it. Find a nice space where people can gather. Make sure there are tables and chairs and drinks and comforts. And then let people know about it. Fill up the empty chairs at the tables. Don’t only invite your friends – make sure people you haven’t met before are there. And make sure there are women-only spaces at the table.

Your social circle will expand. You’ll be playing games. You’ll have new people to bounce ideas off and work on creative projects with. You’ll have fun.

Could this work?

Now, you might have noticed that “women-only spaces” bit in there. I can’t think of a better way of handling that other problem, of far fewer women playing board and card games than men. In my regular group, we have three guys and two women. It’s fantastic. If we do something like this, we need to work from the start to make it a thing that is inclusive for women. I don’t want any women out there thinking “I’d love to go to this, but it’d be a room full of guys.” Not acceptable.

Yeah, so…

I could talk to people I know across the country and try to persuade them to set up these little Downtime Towns. The bold Quintin Smith, of this very website – he’d set one up where he lives, wouldn’t he? And maybe Michael from Little Metal Dog – he’d set up a Downtime Town, wouldn’t he? And the lovely boys from Bitsocket – they’d get a Scottish one on the go, wouldn’t they? I mean, I haven’t asked them yet, but… they would, right? And over in the States, would some of those guys help out?

Would some of you help out?

I’ve already spoken to the guys at http://www.esdeviumgames.com/ here in the UK about this whole thing. They’re the country’s biggest distributor of board games, RPGs and card games. I want them involved and on board. They run the http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/ site – which is great for finding where you can buy games, but we need to find a way to point people to where they can PLAY games. I’m going to try to get a hold of Games Workshop too, to see what they can do to help. They’re the big boys of British gaming, and they should be doing more. I know that they have their in-store gaming centres, but they need to be encouraging gaming outside their shops too. They need to be more involved with us. How do we get little Downtime Towns all across the UK, where people are playing and learning about games? These big players can help, I’m sure.

So what should the Downtime Town website be? I’m opening it to the floor. A forum, where people can organise the events? Something else? Let me know what you think. That web address is yours. This whole things is yours, if you want it.

Me, I’m going to try to pull this thing together. I’m off on holiday on Wednesday, but when I return I’ll get to changing the Downtime Town website into whatever would best suit the project. You people tell me what it should be. If any of you could help build it, that’d be great too. There’s a Downtime Town twitter account – @downtimetown – and from now on I’ll be using it to organise all of this. Add it, and talk to me. I would need people to help me do this. We’d need people to help run the website. We’d need to put a team together to do this.

I can’t do this alone. I can be the guy who moans at the big companies to help us out, or the guy who gets the right people talking to the right people. But I can’t organise game meets all over the country. That’s your job, if you want it.

Let me know if you think the idea is idealistic garbage. Let me know that too. It might be. I’m known for that kind of thing.

But it should work, right? I mean, this is all it would be:

A woman thinks that she’d like to play some games. She has some time on the following Tuesday. She hits the Downtime Town site. She posts this:

“Hey! Downtime Town in London next Tuesday at 8! Three chairs are empty! Playing King of Tokyo and Battlestar Galactica! Who’s in?”

And she, and two of her friends, and three new people get together in the back of a pub to roll some dice. Afterwards they tell the rest of us about it on the website. They post a video. One of the guys who went to her Downtime Town sets up his own a fortnight later. He brings his own King of Tokyo, of course. He’s a gamer now.

Or, a guy gets the use of a community hall, and there’s room for about 30 people.

“Hey! Downtime Town on Saturday at the Community Hall. 26 spaces available! Bring games if you got ‘em!”

Can that really be the answer? Is it really that easy? Is it as easy as just deciding to start playing?

I dunno. Let’s see what happens in the months ahead. I’d love to fill one of those empty seats here in Glasgow.

Cardboard Children will return in a fortnight, with a review of the big and shiny Fortune and Glory, and a look at an unboxed Dreadfleet.

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104 Comments »

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  1. Little Metal Dog says:

    Count me in, man. Let’s do this.

  2. Gadriel says:

    Good heavens! Real, physical interaction with other human beings? Intriguing. Maybe I’ll sound this idea out with a few friends here in the Canadian prairies.

    • feighnt says:

      wait… what’s this? where in the canadian prairies? i happen to be in edmonton…

    • oldkc says:

      I’ve just moved to the Canadian no-mans land, (all the way out in Moosonee). I miss shootin’ the shit, having a crew to banter and game with… may have to start ‘Downtime revolution’… army of one…

  3. endintears says:

    Given that my social circle consists almost exclusively of geeks, when I decided to get in to board gaming (with the gentle encouragement of this fine column) I had no trouble in putting together a regular gaming group.

    Because I recognise how blessed I am, I love the idea of being able to give those less fortunate than myself a chance to experience our weekly games evenings. And, of course, the opportunity for me to meet new, like-minded people for all of the reasons you’ve pointed out here.

    I think what you have here is a really fantastic idea and it’s great to see how enthusiastic and supportive you are of the concept. I just have one problem which is I don’t feel comfortable inviting strangers into my house. But maybe that’s something I can get over or work around.

    Looking forward to seeing how the idea develops.

  4. Kingofspain says:

    Wow, the board gaming crusade continues!

    I’ll be playing Twister round at my house tomorrow night, naked. Who’s in?

    :)

    Great idea Rab. As LMD said above, Let’s do this!

  5. Premium User Badge

    shinygerbil says:

    Thumbs up, Rab!

  6. Woden says:

    This? This is a great idea. Kudos.

    Now, let’s talk resources. I live in San Diego, California, USA. I have no idea what sort of venues are available for public gaming nights. I could see a restaurant or bar for a small get-together, but what about larger groups? I’ve never gone about renting or otherwise procuring a space for an event like this, so I’d like to hear from people who have experience in that side of things regarding who I should be talking to and where I should be looking. Ballpark estimates of pricing for paid venues would be very helpful as well.

    Hopefully some more experienced folks can donate some knowledge for the newbies like myself. : D

    • Premium User Badge

      bglamb says:

      A good trick is to just find somewhere that looks empty and ask them if they’d be interested in you bringing 20 people down to play games and eat/drink their fare.

  7. thebigJ_A says:

    If someone set up one of these in (or near) Boston, MA USofA, I’d totally go.

    I’d say I’d volunteer to set it up, but, well, I’m the guy that’s not ever played a board game, ‘cuz “This is all well and good, man. But I have no-one to play with.”

    • Somerled says:

      I’m in Boston too. Once I see a Downtime Town site, I’m totally setting this shit up here.

      Sad thing is, I don’t have friends to do pretty much anything with, being new to town. Sadface.

      EDIT: Found a few potential hits on meetup.com: http://board-games.meetup.com/cities/us/ma/boston/

    • Bioluminescence says:

      Boston-ish-area boardgamer here (though only been in the country a year and a half) with many games available for the playing. If we can get a good location (my house is a state) then I’m up for bringing all sorts of things – King of Tokyo, Battlestar Galactica, Thunderstone, Death Angel, Dominion, Pandemic, Space Hulk (the old version – not the swanky new one) and more.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Not many of those things on meetup seemed very promising. A lot hadn’t met in months, or only met a total of two or three times, while others only had like two or three people attending.

  8. DarkFenix says:

    Heh, kinda ironic that I read this about 15 minutes away from going to play Descent with 4 other RPS guys.

  9. Binary77 says:

    I don’t normally play boardgames, but i’m creeping ever closer to the idea. I’ll ask around here in Birmingham & see what’s cracking….

    • wormella says:

      Hi, One step ahead of you here in Birmingham UK – Afternoon Play(1st Sunday of every month) has been going almost a year now. Everyone’s welcome…

      We use the upstairs of a lovely friendly coffee shop, meet once a month – everyone brings the games the want to play, it’s open to all and we try and keep to games that don’t go on forever – that way people change tables, meet new people and play new games. The next one’s on the 2nd of Oct and you can find details on the blog (linked above).

      And sometimes there are picnics…

    • Binary77 says:

      Wow, cheers for that – i’ll give it a look! I’m a total noob though (apart from the odd game of Heroquest as a kid), so i may have to do some homework first!

  10. bateleur says:

    Games Workshop won’t help – they want people playing their games and nothing else… Remember when White Dwarf was the world’s best RPG magazine?

    • Premium User Badge

      evilplatypus says:

      Yeah not sure GW help would be a help here in Australia anyway. Their name is mud since they jacked up their local prices and stopped shipping from the uk. My local wargaming club switched their annual tournament to Warmachine and they’re planning on running a blood bowl tournament that bans GW models.

      Better to be game agnostic anyway I reckon.

  11. Sleepymatt says:

    Best of luck Rab, this is a great idea, I hope you can pull it off! Though in my head it’ll always be called Rock Paper D20. :) Who knows, this may even suck me back in to board gaming for the first time in 20 odd years!

  12. Jambe says:

    See, myself and Iain have been writing professionally for 15 years.

    Oh, you.

    This is a lovely idea but I’m not sure it’d fly in Evansville. Worth a shot…

  13. voxtrot says:

    This is a really good idea. I would definitely use a site like this. It’s a good idea to make sure there’s a lot of thought from the start about how to make sure the community is welcoming to women – it’d be harder to fix in a year’s time if you realise all the site users are men and you need to retrospectively figure out why & what to do about it.

    I wonder if you’d need to set levels, in a sense, for each gaming meet-up? E.g. beginners welcome, intermediate, advanced…? Otherwise, sometimes really advanced players are quite impatient when people come along to try a game for the first time and aren’t familiar with the rules. Or would you make it a requirement that all the meet-ups have to be open to new players, and factor in a certain amount of time for running through the rules?

    Anyway, very good plan, I like it.

    • Woden says:

      Re: new players, that seems simple enough. The organizer/host (and/or volunteer mentors) show up half an hour early to the venue to give new players, who have also showed up early, a grounding in the game(s) at hand. Adjust the time allotted depending on the complexity of the game, necessity of rolling characters, etc.

    • voxtrot says:

      Aye, that’d work fine for the logistics-y bits, but it’s also to do with attitudes / levels of patience among the more experienced players. RPS people seem a nice bunch, though, so I don’t imagine it’d be a problem if part of the aim of the site was to introduce people to new games they might not have played before.

    • Woden says:

      Ah yes, that makes sense. I suppose you could just make it clear to everyone that newbies are welcome and, conversely, there might be newbies about so don’t get your bits in a bunch over it if there are.

      Managing expectations would seem to be the key.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      voxtrot: I’m always found real-life gamers (board or otherwise) to be a lot more patient/nice/better etc. than online people.

      And if someone really persists in being an arse, just don’t invite them back.

    • JackShandy says:

      I feel like being OK with newbs is an inherent part of board-gaming, because every new game you get starts with this fumbling half-hour or so where everyone tries to understand the rules.

      Then again, I also feel like swearing bitterly at everyone is an inherent part of board-gaming.

  14. harddrivefinny says:

    This is genius.

    I moved up to Inverness 2 years ago in order to be closer to the Mrs’ family which consequently put 200 miles between me and fellow nerds. I’d love to see something implemented like this up in the Highlands. Any like minded brohams around my neck of the woods?

  15. kanzy says:

    In Singapore, the boardgame community uses this meetup thing, so we’re all part of this meet-up group, and whenever a meet-up is scheduled, all the members get notified of it. The website is here, for reference: http://www.meetup.com/Boardgames-Singapore/

    However, that’s more for regularly scheduled meet-ups, like the first Sunday of the month at a certain venue, and the second Saturday of the month somewhere else, and so on, and I think this Downtown Time thing can still be used for impromptu and small gatherings. Thus, I think this is a really good idea, assuming there are enough people from Singapore using the site (which I hope there eventually will be). Cheers for a great idea though, and I do hope it gets up and running (:

  16. Jorum says:

    Sounds a nice idea. I was thinking of setting up a thread on forum with a shared google doc where people can register their location and see who else is near them. A website would be much neater though!

    I think a good feature would be a “find a friend” database where you can register your location, general availabilty, and maybe indicate particular games you’d like to play.
    People could then easily start seeing who is in their area and start setting up their own groups etc.

  17. NightJim says:

    Awesome Idea. I’ve just moved back to my home town after 11 years away, and having discovered RPGs in the interim, I find myself devoid of anyone who plays. What I’ve looked for elsewhere already doesn’t really seem to offer much.

  18. NemsMole says:

    I’ve actually been doing something similar to this since I started playing board games. aye man this is a great idea! My table will always be open to anyone looking to play.

    Just a suggestion but maybe make it so each Downtime Town has a profile where they can list what games are available and such? You probably already thought about it but it’d be nice if our table could list all the many games we have, to intice those people who might be all “well yeah but I’m way too anti social for that”. Might be less likley to do so when they read we have a full copy of Cosmic encounter, Space Hulk and so on.

    Just an idea pal. This is a grand plan.

  19. wodin says:

    Love the idea….suoerb.

  20. JuJuCam says:

    So essentially a social networking site with a strong focus on bringing like minded people together for board games. I’m in!

    I started gaming with a few established groups in my area because my regular gaming partner moved away, found them with google but it’s rather intimidating, I basically only did it out of desperation.

    It’d be good if the site could categorise by different requirements including location, timeframe (Downtime Towns today, this week, this month, regularly scheduled), available seats and of course game, or at least game style. Also an intra site messaging system would be almost essential, but I guess if people were ok with publishing their email addresses or even phone numbers it’d be an acceptable compromise.

    This is all probably a little more than could be whipped up in a week or so, a forum would be a good start at least.

    And of course make sure the old Downtime Town articles are still available somehow!

  21. Jazz42 says:

    Hmmm
    Anyone close to Bournemouth fancy giving this a shot?

    • eddparsons says:

      *wave*

      Half an hour away from Bournemouth, don’t play much but would be up for joining a group.

    • Premium User Badge

      jeffthewonderbadger says:

      I’m a Bournemouthian, and I approve this message.

      *waves*

    • Premium User Badge

      JB says:

      Hmm. 3 Bournemouthians, 3 purple-ish Gravatars. Interesting.

  22. Xercies says:

    Well if anyone lives in London there is this:

    http://www.meetup.com/LondonOnBoard/

    Also the website is good for making a meetup group, you could have on your website basically a whole page where each city has there own one or whatever.

    http://www.meetup.com/

    • philipv says:

      There’s also http://www.finchleygamesclub.org/ which I attend regularly. They play a large assortment of boardgames and also have an active RPG group

    • mikalye says:

      And there’s the Swiggers game club upstairs at the Shipwright’s Arms on Tooley Street near London Bridge every Wednesday night.

    • Froztwolf says:

      That’s what I logged into to say. You should look at http://www.meetup.com and similar sites as a model. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to do it the exact same way, but should be a good starting point.

      Love the idea. This is indeed a perpetual and serious problem.

  23. Jarenth says:

    You know, maybe I should set something like this up. I have a small collection of games, some of which are still in shrinkwrap due to lack of players. And I know for a fact there’s at least a few people here (in the Netherlands, by the way) who’d be interested in something like this.

    Thanks for the suggestion, mr. Rab. I’ll be keeping an eye on this space to see how the idea develops.

    • Premium User Badge

      LTK says:

      Where in the Netherlands are we talking? I’m about to move to Amsterdam, and this seems like a great way to kickstart a social circle.

    • Jarenth says:

      I’m in Tilburg myself, but remember that any part of our tiny little country can be reached in about four, five hours. And I for one wouldn’t mind train-ing up and down every once in a while, as I have plenty of books that still need reading.

    • Premium User Badge

      LTK says:

      I would. One of the reasons I’m moving is so that I no longer have to take the train every day. Well, if I can find any similar initiatives over here, I’ll let you know.

    • Jarenth says:

      Much obliged. Good luck.

  24. Premium User Badge

    phoenixdk says:

    Great idea, we’re somewhat lucky up here in the Newcastle area – we have around 3 groups who meet and play games – (though not exclusively board games) supported in varying degrees by our local Travelling Man.
    Mostly things are organised through facebook (ugh) so non-users miss out a fair bit, and none have a female presence to speak of – save the one regular tues night in the basement of the store that I’ve seen a fellow lady at, she was playing MTG, we had nothing in common clearly ;)

    Will definitely forward this onto the groups and see if one or more would be interested in a more kind of centralised forums/space to recruit & open up to new folks etc.

  25. Frandroid says:

    Sounds intriguing. Random ideas:
    – Real names on the website – first names at least, so that when you organise a session with Jane, Dick and Sue you can turn up and chat to Jane, Dick and Sue rather than sorting out who was who on the website.
    – Ratings/reviews/recommendations for players. Inviting strangers to your house will always be a bit off-putting for some people, and any website that encourages it will be open to abuse. Knowing that players have been to several sessions elsewhere and are normal, well-adjusted human beings would be reassuring. It does make it a little harder/off-putting for new players to get in, but at a session for 5 players for example, it wouldn’t be much of a risk to let one or two unrated players join. Or for new members to attend a few sessions in public locations first.
    – Liability – following on from the last point, what if I invite some folk to my house for a game and they turn up with a van and leave with my TV. Make sure you’re covered from a legal angle.
    – Availability – Instead of being able to post about a session you’re holding on Tuesday, just being able to indicate you fancy playing on Tuesday. Then, when a session is posted you would automatically be notified. Or if I’m thinking about running a session, I can check a few days and see how many people are already looking to play on those nights.

    Good luck with this, hope it does well.

    • Tams80 says:

      Perhaps just a set of guidelines.

      If your not happy having strangers in your house, then organise a meet in a local pub/bar. It won’t stop the more devious people, but would at least act as a filter.

      As for liability; I’m pretty sure it would be with whomever owns the premises (i.e. your house), as you will have willing let someone you don’t know in. It still needs to be checked.

    • Big Daddy Dugger says:

      “they turn up with a van and leave with my TV” Yaarrrrr! Ahoy matey we’ve come for yer possessions.

  26. Tams80 says:

    Each Downtime Town should ideally have a team running it. Nothing serious, just the organizer/s and some experienced players who are prepared to teach people how to play some of the more popular games (some less popular ones could be learned off the hoof – actually really fun!).

    There might need to be a treasurer for larger groups, as larger venues might need to be booked.

    Universities might be a good starting point. Unis are in many places and clubs at unis tend to have to have some sort of structure in place, so could help set up DT Towns. Student Unions can always be avoided if need be.

  27. mihor_fego says:

    Even though I’ve been playing pen & paper RPGs and board games with a core of people and a bunch more coming and going over the years, I think yours is a magnificent idea. Its true that unless you’ve built your community or group from an early age, during school or university, it’s rather unlikely to find many people playing.

    Here the greater boost was when a store actually rented rooms for groups to play in, becoming a hub for the community and creating a meeting space for all. During that era, you could pretty much meet a random person there and invite him or her over to play. The main difference though is you used to meet people in person, which can’t be really the same as reading a profile or post.

    Perhaps the best way to do this through a website is by inviting groups actually making a short video presentation. A couple of minutes can at least provide those interested of a brief idea what the guys and gals of the group are like, cause I’ve seen these first impressions can really work when deciding to go at it or not.

    I’ll try to follow this closely to see if I can contribute in some way. Zaa Ooo Zaa

  28. Duke of Chutney says:

    do it, do it do it.

    if you repurpose downtimetown.com i will use it. But do keep the videos somewhere on the site, becuase they are mint.

  29. JackShandy says:

    Brilliant. Anyone in Brisbane, Australia interested in something like this? I’ve got Battlestar Galactica, Space Alert and Ghost Stories.

    • Aldebrand says:

      First post so I hope I get this right!

      I’d definitely be up for something like this. I’ve been fortunate to have friends who are also interested in board games and RPGs. I’ve got BSG (and the Pegasus expansion) and am looking at getting Space Alert (thanks to the article on RPS!) and Descent (thanks to the article on RPS and the review on Shut Up & Sit Down). We’re based on the northside of Brisbane but it’d be really cool to organise something a bit bigger and regular. For instance, we’ve been wanting to play Dark Heresy for a while now but haven’t had any luck in getting enough people in the same area to play yet.

      I really hope this DownTime Town kicks off, it’d be so awesome to organise something like that here in Brisbane!

  30. Lilliput King says:

    Organising meetups would be easier if you had a database of reliable venues. Maybe the DTT website should ask players for reviews/comments on the venue where they had the session when they next log in. You’d eventually build a decent picture up. Maybe it’d be possible to tie it in to google maps or some other directory to keep it organised (i.e., so you don’t end up with both The Blue Moon Inn and The Blue Moon Pub, somehow situated inside one another).

    I think real names would be a good idea. Player reviews might be a little odd, especially because the community wouldn’t start out particularly huge. Maybe something like ‘event counts’ would be better.

    • Groove says:

      This is spot on.

      I don’t know anywhere in Aberdeen that would even remotely suit as a gaming venue. Having a list of recommended venues would be a real boon.

  31. GHudston says:

    My knowledge of web development is limited to simple blogs, so I don’t know how feasible any of this would be, but here are a few ideas that I think would work on the website:

    I’d like to see a world map (a board, if you will) where you can place a token to either represent your location and interest or to represent the location of a potential Downtime Town. This way you will be able to see, in the form of a big pile of tokens, what sort of interest there is in your area for such a thing before you go planning your own Downtime Town.

    Placing a Downtime Town token would automatically email anyone who had placed themselves on the board within a certain distance (perhaps you could set your maximum travel distance when you place your token and only be alerted of new events within that range?). Ideally, each Downtime Town would be given it’s own info page where organisers can post information and news, and also a discussion board for getting to know the people you will be spending some time with.

    I’d probably suggest linking it to Facebook or something similar where people generally use their real names. A website aimed at getting people to meet up in real life that also lets you hide your identity is asking for trouble.

  32. Warth0g says:

    Great idea but lousy timing for me GODDAMIT as I’m moving to Shanghai in November :-( Don’t suppose there’s a ready made board gaming community there is there? Seriously, anybody?

    • GHudston says:

      What do you mean lousy timing? This is GREAT timing. Go forth and spread the word to Shanghai!

  33. pakoito says:

    Great. Now I only need to move to the UK.

  34. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    In Cardiff, Rules of Play runs a monthly games night at the Chapter.

    I’ll be going for the first time on the 9th of October, but it sounds like exactly this sort of thing. Anyone here go to it/been to it?

    • Xercies says:

      Also in Wales, Swansea has a bar where it has a sign saying Board Game evening on sunday with coffee and cake. i will investigate further whether this is a proper board game meetup or just somewhere for old people to play Cluedo or something.

    • Hazmat says:

      I’m thinking of going along to the board game thing at Chapter on the 9th for the first time too. I have no idea what to expect, I just saw it listed and have been meaning to check it out.

  35. Birky says:

    At the risk of this becoming a directory for currently running Boardgame clubs, here’s the one in York:
    http://bmyork.wordpress.com/

    I only started going last month, but so far it’s been great fun and very welcoming.

    Of course the first thing a Downtime Town website would need is probably a way to find out when stuff is being played in your city.

  36. Premium User Badge

    DarkWeeble says:

    I’d love to see a Google Map with pins where gaming sessions are scheduled and some sort of Calendar integration right from there so I could remind my stupid self to go. Some part of it should be similar to http://barcrafts.com/ I would think.

  37. DrGonzo says:

    Sounds like a great idea. But how do you do it and keep the weirdy beardies away?

    • Josh W says:

      Fill it up with awesome beardies till there’s no room for the weird ones! (Unless they are women with beards, given Rab’s reservation idea)

  38. andyhavens says:

    My one-word recommendation for anyone looking to set up something like this (and it’s a great idea, btw) who doesn’t have a space/place to do it:

    LIBRARY.

    Either on campus if you’re in school, or a nearby public library. Libraries often have spaces available for public meetings and (surprise!) they may also have gaming resources or even games themselves in the collection. They may also have ways for you to help promote the events. There may be librarians there who have wanted to do something like this but don’t have the time resources (they’re getting hammered by the economy). They may already even be doing something like this. A quick search on “library game night” turns up a lot of hits.

  39. Koozer says:

    It’s like a dating site, but for people who like dice!

  40. bill says:

    I’m in on the website side.

    Small baby and time difference might make it difficult to contribute too much time, but it sounds like fun.

    Depends what people want exactly, but I can definitely find and install a few open source social site setups.

    If it’s going to be more impromptu then it’d need to be more on the social site – with group and user profiles, facebook integration (to try and verify real people) and probably some kind of mobile site/app.

    There’s ways to do all that that don’t take too much time to get a basic setup running.

    If there’s going to be a team effort on the web side, then i’d suggest setting up something on https://freedcamp.com/ to help collaborate.

  41. Premium User Badge

    LowKey says:

    I would fill your empty glasgow seat Rab

  42. Ergonomic Cat says:

    When I moved to a new city (3 months before my wife and family arrived), I had already gone on Meetup.com, searched for the new city, and found a game group that met weekly. At the first meeting, I learned about 2 other groups that met weekly, on other days, and people who had basements such that, between them, someone always had an open table.

    I moved to Wisconsin, so I can’t imagine people can’t find stuff like this everywhere, if you just set out to find it. It involves that awkward “So, hi, who are all you people” bit, but generally, people who play boardgames tend to be at least reasonably social folks, and the game gives you some to focus on if you don’t like making conversation with strangers….

  43. pertusaria says:

    Hi folks,

    For anyone reading this in Dublin, Ireland, there’s a regular group at the Dark Horse pub near Tara Street train station on the south bank of the Liffey on Thursday evenings. Oldbies may remember the Mercantile group on Tuesdays – effectively this is that group. Admittedly I haven’t been since before they moved, but this article could be enough to talk me into staying in town of an evening again.

    The group’s Facebook page is linked to from the Irish Games Association website: http://www.gaelcon.com/.

    See some of you around!

    P.

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      Just got kicked out of college, and am no longer in Dublin. Gosh darn it.

  44. pnic101 says:

    New Yorkers?

  45. mechabuddha says:

    From the US: Yes, please.

  46. Balhazer says:

    Count me in!

    If there is anyone from Mexico (Tabasco), let me know.

    pen&paper RPG, boardgames, miniatures, cardgames (this one is easier than the rest).

  47. Grindy says:

    Anyone in the Quebec City area in Canada? Please?

  48. Jorum says:

    I’ve finally buckled and signed up to twitter because of this – behold the power of boardgames.

  49. BaronessHeather says:

    If any of you are in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, Atlantis Comics & Games has been trying to get more people to come to their board game nights. Check out http://www.atlantis-comics.com if you’re interested. (note: I don’t work there or anything, I just keep seeing the posts and every time I’ve gone in, hardly anyone shows up)

  50. FrankFromHR says:

    I’m in Edmonton, Alberta and interested in filling a seat. I end up buying games and never have anyone to play with :P