This is the second in the series of Gaming in College. You can find the first installment here.
Somewhere along the way in my collegiate career I ended up becoming president of the local university roleplaying, wargaming, and LARPing club.
King of the Nerds. The Grand Poobah.
What did this all mean? More work.
And in reality it meant dealing with more problems. The LARPers, Wargamers, and tabletop roleplayers were competing for roughly the same space each week; sometimes along with other clubs on campus who wanted that space.
We were a loose confederation of gamers, and at times it was like herding cats.
That conference room in the picture above was ground zero. There were other conference rooms, class rooms, and general space available, but nearly everybody wanted THAT room.
In retrospect, we should have been three separate groups–but that would have brought up more issues than it solved.
So, if you’re in college and you want to start a gaming club, or join one, here’s my advice:
1. Define the club’s purpose.
There’s nothing wrong with: “To reserve rooms on campus for our games.” But its best that you put this in your constitution (assuming your college requires one) or at least articulate it somewhere.
If you have your club’s purpose written down somewhere, you can say: “We don’t do that here” to objectionable propositions, some of which may include:
- Running an unsanctioned Magic: The Gathering Tournament for money.
- Raising club dues so certain officers can go to GenCon.
- Running a complete gaming convention but not telling the university about said convention.
In my experience, most gamers are honest, but there are certain gamers of the world looking to make a quick buck at the expense of others.
2. See if there’s already a gaming club on campus.
Believe it or not some campuses don’t have them. Some campuses have multiple. Why go through all that effort to create club if there’s already one?
Can there be two or more gaming clubs on campus? Some colleges and universities can be sticklers about redundancy.
3. What are the responsibilities of the officers? Define them.
What does the president, treasurer, and secretary specifically do? Is there any special requirements (particularly with the treasurer) the university require?
(I knew of one small college where presidents of student organizations had to sit on the Student Council).
And, most importantly: who reserves the space on campus?
4. Who’s the faculty adviser? What is their role?
Most campuses require a faculty member to advise the club. Finding one shouldn’t be too difficult, so long as they don’t have to do too much work. In fact, it’s best you have a “hands off” adviser unless you absolutely need their advice or help.
The worst advisers (for any club actually) are the ones who like to meddle.
5. Answer: Can non-students be members?
What about alumni? Or those who drop out? What about people who’ve never been students at the college?
Why would this be a big deal?
Because normally students can use university space for free (well, via student activity fees), and non-students wanting that space would be charged.
Some college gamers might not have a problem with this. Yet when space becomes a premium, and if students are slowly squeezed out by the non-students, there will be issues. And once the precedent is set, it can be hard to undo.
Yet, that’s just my experience. Each university and college across the country has a different atmosphere and policies when it comes to student organizations.
If had to do it all over again, I’d think twice about becoming a club officer of a gaming club. At the very least, if I became a president, I’d delegate more responsibilities to others and kick problem gamers out sooner rather than later.
For the most part I had a good time.
What are you college gaming club experiences?