Gaming Community Support Series Part 4: Events & Activities
(Keeping your members engaged, and spreading the word)
So your community is alive! People are chatting and they’re starting to share things amongst themselves. As the leader (or TEAM of leaders) for the community you’ve created, you need to harness this activity to give members a wicked experience they’ll want to come back to, time and time again.
What your group does
In part 1 of this series, we defined why your community exists and what it stands for. This is one step on the road to what you can do for your community and ultimately, what will keep your community coming back for more. Take this direction and think about different things you could do to foster a following of that definition in your community.
For example, if you’ve created your community to help eSports teams form and succeed within your local gaming community, you might be inclined to research what makes an eSport team successful. From there you could begin developing a set of info documents that future teams could read to help them succeed! This approach follows the “teach someone to fish and they’ll eat for life” mentality, but there are so many other ways you can go about it. You could also regularly host amateur tournaments, create events that match random players together in teams, and even run live Twitch workshops, as just a few various eSports community options.
One important thing to note before we move on is that it’s important to build passive elements into your community that support it. These are descriptions, guides, and upload sections that make the community feel like an up to date and relevant place to hang out.
But we’ll tackle that later, now on to events and activities!
When you put together an activity it should be something that’s repeatable, and something that can last. That’s what sets activities apart from events. Activities are often quick and sustainable, here are a few examples…
- Weekly in-game meet ups.
- Regular challenge mode in-game skirmishes.
- Art contests.
- Group photo wall (get everyone to send a personal picture in!).
- A weekly raid time.
Try to theme these activities around your group’s reason for existing. If you’re there to connect players, always make your activities are about getting community members to engage with one another, rather than just engaging with you or your group’s image.
Do this right, and you’ll give your members a reason to become passionate fans and advocates of the group, always coming back for more.
Events are usually a one off gathering that your community can get involved in. Events can come in many shapes and sizes, but often form for a particular reason. There is a small crossover between events and activities, but what sets events apart is often their scale and the reason they’ve been put on.
Live vs online
Online events are easier to pull off, but lack real life connection, whereas live events are far more difficult to host, but can create tight bonds in your community that help it grow. Live events also help you interact with your community and find strong personalities, expand your administrative team, learn about the things community members are passionate about, and give you a chance to give back to your community in a much more noticeable way as thanks for them being awesome.
So why are live events so difficult? To give you an idea, let’s look at what live events often need:
- A space for you and your members to hang out.
- That space may need to be filled (chairs, tables, etc).
- Attendees often need basic amenities (e.g. food, drink and toilets available or close by).
- You might need an Internet connection (and will it be strong enough?).
- Power and tech gear (are they bringing in devices to play on? do you need a projector/ screen?).
- You need to think of how long the event will be on for (not too long, but long enough to succeed) and when it is best to host it (weekend? what time?).
- Can you achieve this on a $0 budget, or do you need some capital? Perhaps some sponsor help or an entry fee is required.
Throughout all my years of creating live events I’ll say this much: at the beginning it’s near impossible, but as you go on you’ll find new resources and ways to solve problems to the point where you can host an event at the drop of a hat! Fight that uphill struggle and you will be rewarded.
If you’re going the live event rout, you’ll need a place to host it. You might be surprised to find a perfectly good, free venue right next door! The trick is establishing a positive relationship with that venue, and even somehow finding a way to make your event with that venue mutually beneficial.
Here are a few places you could look out for to get you started:
- Local pub or restaurant.
- Net cafes.
- Schools (tertiary institutions such as universities work quite well, especially if you are part of a club).
To approach them is far simpler than you think. Go into the venue and ask for someone in charge, get their contact details and most of all, be prepared to describe your passion, community and event to them. If possible, think of a way you could benefit them (e.g. if they are a bar you’re bringing customers TO them!). I’ve found that when it comes to asking for a venue the key thing to get across is what your community does, as well as why you’re so passionate about it. More often than not the venue owner will see for themselves if there is value in it for them, but they want to know you have what it takes to make your event succeed. Passion defines that, and a positive attitude and approachable demeanour goes a long way as well.
If you’re planning a particularly kick ass event, you might be able to partner yourself with a few sponsors and get some great gaming gear to give away, or help you set up some tech for attending community members to play around with!
Firstly, check if your game was created by Riot, Blizzard, Valve or Hi-Rez. These four developers are often more than happy to lend a hand to events in some way, shape or form because you’re out there supporting their creations. Get in touch with them and find out how they can help.
Next, make a list of local business you could approach. Perhaps a local tech store or movie theatre? Stores nearby whose key demographic are your community members have a strong reason to invest in your event.
Now go out and approach these organisations, and see what you can do for each other! I could honestly write a book on what to (and not to) do with sponsors, but for now I’ll just say this — be honest with them, support their brand/ product live at your event, and always recap them on what happened (pictures, attendee numbers, etc). Reliability and trust is what will keep a sponsor coming back to you, outside of flat-out success.
Now get out there and put on some events and activities to grow your community!
See ya next week for Part 5. Being A Leader.
Theo Martin // Community Manager