Saturday, February 04, 2006

Gaming at Work

It sounds like an ideal job concept for a gamer doesn't it? Unfortunately this piece is not about being paid to play games, but about playing games at your, well actually at my, place of employment.

I work for a large organisation in two interconnected eight-storey buildings down by the riverfront at the Docklands in Melbourne, Australia.

The buildings are open plan with a large number of meeting rooms, including some outside the security zone near the reception area and some public places in the interconnects between the two buildings.

The second building was opened in October 2004 and Gamers@Dockers was founded by Greg Collins, David Coutts and myself shortly thereafter.

We sent out initial announcements to four main groups:
1) Gamers that we knew inside the organisation (a small group)
2) IT staff within the organisation (more gamers per square inch than the general population)
3) Other gamers in Melbourne that we knew
4) boardgamegeek where I requested that an Australia > Victoria sub forum be set up

When we started Gamers@Dockers we realised that there were at least four or five gamers working in the same building so we started to hold occasional lunchtime game sessions.

We utilised one of the public areas that had a decent sized table. Our lunchtime is an hour in length, so this does immediately rule out quite a few games, but still leaves a surprising number eligble for play. Card games have been the most common with Gang of Four, Mag Blast (classic and 2nd edition), David and Goliath, Lost Cities, Bang!, High Society and Guillotine all being played. We have also played Ra, Tigris & Euphrates, TransAmerica, Tower of Babel, Duell and Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation as well.

The current mainstay is Gang of Four. Our lunchtime group is generally four or five, although it can vary from two to six. We play Gang of Four with three to five players. We have a five player variant where the dealership is rotated around the table, with the dealer sitting out of the hand and the first player is the person with the multicoloured one. As I work through my list of unplayed games at home I might introduce some of them at to lunchtime games at work. Frank's Zoo, 6 Nimmt! and Tichu spring to mind as possible candidates.

Of course we also like to play games that go for longer than one hour too and that was one of the reasons for setting up Gamers@Dockers.

Initially we ran Gamers@Dockers sessions every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month, but towards the end of 2005 we moved to every Thursday.

The sessions are scheduled to start at 5:30 pm and generally run until somewhere around 10-11 pm. They could run later as the security desk is 24 hours a day, although I think the main limiting factors are that public transport starts to peter out at about midnight and most of us have to work the next day. This still gives a gaming window of about five hours, which means with a bit of pre-arranging some quite long games can be scheduled. I haven't organised a session of Die Macher yet, but possibly sometime this year I might.

There are two twelve-seat rooms and two six-seat rooms in the public area where we meet. We normally have three or four games running in the first twelve seat room and spill over to other rooms as required.

Before we moved to weekly sessions we were getting up to twenty-five people each time. Not everyone, myself included, can come every week, so numbers dropped to about ten when we first went weekly and are now back up to fifteen or so. There are probably seven or so regulars from our work and the rest are from Melbourne at large. Some work nearby, others travel quite a way. Thanks mainly to the listing we also have had interstate and international visitors as well. One of our very early regulars was a German backpacker who was spending a few months in Melbourne.

There are no membership fees and no club library of games. There are usually about four people who bring in a collection of games that make up the selection to choose from. I have often taken in unplayed games and found someone who is willing to teach a bunch of newbies. I find this is a good way of working through my rather long list of unplayed games.

The only mark against Gamers@Dockers is that due to the cost of babysitting and Daughter the Elder's extracurricular activities it is not financially viable for both Melissa and I to attend together except occasionally during the school holidays. Fortunately we have gaming friends who are happy to come over to our house to indulge us.

Mmm, meeples taste like...


gamesgrandpa said...

Fraser -- That is really neat. Sounds like you have a great time with a lot of people and many different games. I'm sure there are a lot of people in this world who would love to have that opportunity.

I recently posted a similar article about my gaming with co-workers. However, my experiences were long ago, with few good games available, and in quite different circumstances. See:

{shameless plug}

gamesgrandpa said...

If that web address doesn't come out right in this posting, you can find all my current games articles at the

Fraser said...

No problems Gerald, I had lost that link, so now I have bookmarked it [and should one day investigate RSS feeds]