Sunday, 22 April 2012

Geek Upswing

Once upon a time we at the Stourbridge club used to agonize about whether the modest subs fee would have to creep up from £2 a night to ensure that the takings at least broke even and covered the cost of hall hire. We also used to be aware that the larger attendances in Winter tended to fund the smaller attendances in Summer when the weather was good(ish).

These days, in the same church hall, the club is running at about full capacity and if you don't get there early you may end up with your tabletop squeezed into an unergonomic space and find that there are no chairs left.

Three miles down the road is the Kingswinford club, Dudley Darklords, that meet in a village hall-style building and that club routinely bursts its breeches and has to overspill into the adjacent rooms. It's 90% a different crowd to the Stourbridge club as well so it's not simply a case of the same people attending one club on a Tuesday and the other on a Friday, effectively a a small suburban middle class catchment area is straining to contain it's gamer population in two big clubs.

Yesterday Alex at the October club in Birmingham told me that they'd housed 60 attendees in one night and now the club can't accept any more members as there is physically no more room.

In theory this is a dying and greying hobby that can't compete with computer gaming and out of step with a modern society that wants instant gratification and doesn't want to have to put any effort into it's leisure pursuits.

No, me neither.


  1. I live in a city of 400,000 people. Our wargames club manages about six people tops.

    Mind you, there's an active club at the University (indeed we've just transferred our activities there), and there's a game shop as well, so there must be enough of a gamer population to support that too.I guess we're an isolated outlier of an invisible (to us) geek scene.

  2. It pays to advertise.

    Also the large number of geeks at the October Club that one night was due to a number of WH40K players getting practice in for an upcoming tourney. Even without them there though there are still 40-50 people a week. And all lots of games being played.

    You can play Warhammer Fantasy and 40,000, friendly and competitively. There is always some sort of boardgame being played. Role playing at least once a month. Warmachine, Hordes, Malifaux, Flames of War, HOTT, DBA, Principles of War, Harpoon, Fire and Fury, Star Wars Miniatures (WEG version). This is the list from the top of my head.

    And the majority are young people.

  3. Oh, I was also expecting a post about Oolite!

  4. The odd thing is that Stourbridge hasn't done anything to promote itself really. One day we inherited about 6 regulars who moved their rpg sessions to Amblecote which put us into "always covering costs" territory and then a bit later we found that numbers just kept coming and coming.

    Is it the bad economic climate causing people to realise that gaming can be a really cheap hobby if you plan it properly? Maybe just a general increase in the acceptability of geekery in the modern world as a whole? I don't really have a solid answer with which to explain it.

  5. Hi Coop. Thanks for the interesting post. It's certainly a strange phenomenon - numbers growing at clubs whereas a few years back a lot of us were worried if the hobby was simply going to wither an die - and its also a welcome one, right?

    In St Albans we've been between 10 and 15 for the last 12 years. We gain one or maybe two players every couple of years, and occassionally someone drops out when they move away. I'm sure that the demographic for the hobby will be very interesting in a few years. At Salute on Saturday, one of the best things was just how many younger players (teenagers) I saw playing all types of games, historical from all periods as well as SF/Fantasy. I think that's got to be great news for everyone, whether you're looking at varied games or the future of the hobby generally.