There is no doubt about it, I am a gamer.
One great memory that I have about my youth minister was that he came over to our house where the 4 of us were gathered around a small table and played Star Wars the Roleplaying game with us. He was some 14 years older than us, but he was one of us. We all quoted the corny Star Wars lines together and all drank Mountain Dew. We weren’t the popular kids of the youth group, but he took the time out to come into our world. I will never forget that.
Here I am 10 years later and I still play games. Video games. Board games. Role playing games. I don’t play nearly as much as I did back then, but I still love to get lost in a good game. Reaching out to gamers is a passion of mine and I wanted to share with you a couple of things to keep in mind when reaching out to youth gamers.
First, you have to know your gamer types.
The Video Gamer. They are by far the most popular and most known. They play XBox 360, Playstation 3, PSP, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Computer games, etc…Games range from 1st person shooter games (Halo) to Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (Called MMORPGs, World of Warcraft) and Guitar Hero/Rock Band.
The Board/Card Gamer. Indianapolis hosts a convention each year geared towards this demographic called GenCon. You’ll see a whole range of games from this group including: Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, Settlers of Catan, Risk, and even chess. A lot of these games, especially the card versions are collection based. Meaning that some cards/pieces are collectibles worth money. I played Magic the Gathering for a short time in High School and had a deck of cards well worth over $100. Lots of money can be invested in these types of games.
The RP’er. Also known as the role player. The most famous role playing game of all time? Dungeons and Dragons. It’s still around! In fact they just released a brand new version of the game. These games often involve several books, different kinds of dice and sometimes small figurines (sometimes called avatars depending on the game). Games include: Star Wars, Star Trek, Dungeons and Dragons, and a score of different Japanese animation based games. If you can think of a popular science fiction, comic book or fantasy type story they have a role playing game for it. Generally, these games involve creating a character that each player role plays and interacts with the other players that their game leader has set up.
Second, get to know the games they are into. Do you know an Xbox player? What does he/she like to play when they get home from school? What particular games do they like? First person shooters? Strategy? What’s their gamer score (this is particular to Xbox players). Do they play World of Warcraft or some other MMORPG? Find out what kind of character they have. Ask questions to see what they are into.
Third, and probably the most obvious, play the games with them! Just like my youth pastor did, he took the time out to come over and learn the rules of the game and play. It communicated to us that he cared and took the time to spend it with us doing something we loved to do. See if they can let you come over and play a few rounds. If they’re into a card game like Magic, have them bring their decks over and show you how to play.
In the next couple of installments I want to go a little deeper into each type and explore what is important to each of these groups.