Fostering Community

The place to discuss all things GPNW 2012, except games.
mcdaldno
Posts: 62
Joined: April 26th, 2010, 7:31 pm

Fostering Community

Post by mcdaldno » March 13th, 2012, 6:02 pm

The Experience: Some years, the GPNW community has felt really cozy and connected. I cherish that.

The Hope: As GPNW continues to expand, I'm hoping that it continues to feel cozy and connected despite its expansion.

The Worry: Last year, GPNW felt more disconnected and less like a community. I think part of that was the physical space, and part of that was interpersonal. I worry that as GPNW grows and evolves, it might lose its magic spark of cozy, connected community (CCC).

The Challenge: To foster cozy, connected community at GPNW 2012. What can we do to make this a lovely and vibrant temporary community?

I'm not a con organizer. I'm a con-goer who is wondering how I can contribute to this experience.

mcdaldno
Posts: 62
Joined: April 26th, 2010, 7:31 pm

Re: Fostering Community

Post by mcdaldno » March 13th, 2012, 6:12 pm

Mealtime Ice-Breakers

I think it'd be great to encourage (and even structure) people eating meals with random people rather than their existing friends. The cafeteria structure makes this easier to do this year than some previous years!

This could be as simple as saying: Hey everyone! Your experience will be better if you eat meals with random folks during breakfast and lunch!

This could also be more complicated. We're gamers, yeah? We could create a gamified version of eating meals, where your table is randomized by a card draw for each meal, and you've got a scavenger hunt style list of things (like "Ask people what countries they've lived in. Score points whenever you eat with someone who's lived in Sweden"). Each meal you're plunked down with new people, and you have a bunch of things you're hoping to learn about them (like places they've lived, crazy sports they've participated in, their favourite game experiences, etc).

Hans
Posts: 12
Joined: March 13th, 2012, 6:18 pm
Name: Hans
Location: Portland

Re: Fostering Community

Post by Hans » March 13th, 2012, 8:03 pm

Yep, right on the money. Especially since people can go have dinner with their friends or whomever. I think the lunch stuff should be an opt-in table-lottery thing. I'm not as much into the individual cards thing, mostly because it wouldn't motivate me. What if each table had a bunch of questions/talking points? So we can eat and have a normal conversation and read some questions and engage in them as we wish. Your way does that as well--I just know collecting points for such things won't motivate me. It might work for most people, though.

Caesar_X
Posts: 54
Joined: May 3rd, 2010, 10:40 am
Name: Chris Bennett

Re: Fostering Community

Post by Caesar_X » March 13th, 2012, 8:26 pm

I'm hoping the breakfast thing will help. Last year, food options were pretty spread out, so folks seemed to vanish into small groups at mealtime. The first GPNW at the university, b'fast was a good time for people to wander into the same restaurant all groggy-eyed to catch some food before first sessions. I met a lot of cool people that way.

But honestly, the thing I noticed about Friday evening last year was that people were already in their "tribes" once I had arrived. There wasn't as much mingling as I had experienced in past years. I wonder how much of that was the size of the group vs the venue vs the fact that GPNW has been a "thing" for several years and people know each other now.

Dunno. I think I was just surprised and a little disappointed last year that I didn't know a number of people there and that there wasn't a real good way to get to know them. We can never get back to 35 people, but I have faith in fostering community!

mcdaldno
Posts: 62
Joined: April 26th, 2010, 7:31 pm

Re: Fostering Community

Post by mcdaldno » March 13th, 2012, 8:30 pm

Chris, solid point about a reduced level of mingling at the feast. How do we encourage more? A good first step is to just make a commitment to flit about, crashing conversations, introducing yourself to strangers.

The beer cooler in years past was a lovely addition! I am hopeful that we'll be able to do something like that again, stocking it with beer & juice & soda. I'd happily contribute some money towards that. (ETA: Just had it confirmed that this is a real possibility!)

LeeShort
Posts: 34
Joined: April 26th, 2010, 9:19 pm

Re: Fostering Community

Post by LeeShort » March 13th, 2012, 9:35 pm

How about The Donut for food tables?

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tonydowler
Posts: 226
Joined: April 20th, 2010, 4:56 pm

Re: Fostering Community

Post by tonydowler » March 14th, 2012, 2:38 pm

You're right on the target, Joe, with this:
The Challenge: To foster cozy, connected community at GPNW 2012. What can we do to make this a lovely and vibrant temporary community?

Everyone involved wants to make this great. As organizers, we provide a space for the awesome stuff to happen, but everybody contributes to making it a reality. I remember the laid-back communal atmosphere in the cafeterias in our first year, and I hope we'll see more of it this year. I strongly encourage everyone to mix it up during the feast. It's so easy to just fall back into comfortable friendships, especially when we haven't seen our friends in an age.

So yeah, contribution number 1 is having an open attitude and coming ready to meet new people. Some kind of table game or icebreaker is a great idea, especially for the people who don't know a bunch of people.

Mathalus
Posts: 27
Joined: May 9th, 2011, 10:03 am
Name: Morgan Stinson

Re: Fostering Community

Post by Mathalus » March 14th, 2012, 4:31 pm

Last year was my first year and I was really new to cons and Story Games in general. I showed up on Friday and ate the dinner with a couple people I knew. But I want to learn more people faster. Really optimize this shit.

Does anyone have an electronic copy of Drew's card game thing that forces you to ask personal questions about each other? I would be willing to print and fold a mess of those little booklets. I'm thinking about something like that, where I can just spring a deck of cards on the peeps I am sitting next to, and all of a sudden we are learning each other's names.

Also, maybe the first announcement could include a "It's good to meet people" piece so I am not the weirdo who sits next to you without prompting?

mcdaldno
Posts: 62
Joined: April 26th, 2010, 7:31 pm

Re: Fostering Community

Post by mcdaldno » March 14th, 2012, 10:00 pm

Mathalus wrote:Also, maybe the first announcement could include a "It's good to meet people" piece so I am not the weirdo who sits next to you without prompting?
I think this is vital.

I'm beginning to doubt the awesome of having "conversation card" style icebreakers. Once a single game session has passed, we all have an automatic conversation-starter about shit we're known to care about. It is: "So, what did you play?" So, the more I think about it, the less excited I am about conversation-structuring stuff going on during the meals. It might prove antithetical to actually bonding.

That said, I would be giddy to see more weird social games that take place between slots and across the con. I'm thinking about the stuff Brendan has designed the last couple years, where you find clues and attach stuff to your badge and so forth.

skinnyghost
Posts: 111
Joined: May 20th, 2010, 12:19 pm
Name: adam koebel

Re: Fostering Community

Post by skinnyghost » March 15th, 2012, 10:39 am

I really like the concept of fostering a "make new friends" ambiance. The first year I went to GPNW (at Hugo House) I feel like I met a billion people and it was all OMG NEW FRIENDS but the second time I was seeing a lot of familiar faces and did that human thing where you just gravitate to the people you already know. It'd be cool to break that up. Part of it is encouraging gaming with strangers, but I bet we could make a game of it, too. Maybe something as simple as GPNW new-friend-bingo. "Someone from Canada, but not from BC" "Someone who has published a game" "Someone who has never published a game" "Someone who's never played any edition of D&D" etc etc.

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