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What leads to Chapter success?

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Spencer View Drop Down
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Spencer Corbin Lawson

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Spencer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: What leads to Chapter success?
    Posted: 23 September 2013 at 8:29am
I have been pondering what is the biggest contributor to success for an IFGS chapter. To me is the running of the greatest number of games.

The continual face to face contact between members seems to be the thing that keeps chapters healthy. The more sparce the schedule the more likely the priority individuals place on the IFGS slips. I know that having GWs and GPs are critical to running such games but that is another topic that will come later.

Do others agree with me or do you think there is another more important to the success of a chapter?


Edited by Spencer - 23 September 2013 at 8:30am
Spencer Corbin Lawson - PNW Member"It looks like they used the tried and true combat tactic of hiding behind the MU." Camille Graves
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Cedric Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 September 2013 at 9:18am
I'm a big supporter in that IFGS is about running games. The most important thing to do is run more of them.  It keeps interest up if you can be consistent about it.  Everything should key off of this one goal.  It's a reason that when people ask me to do things like serve on chapter board, I tell them that I have 100 units of energy.  Would you rather me spend those 100 on serving on a board, or running games.
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Brett Paul - Registry Online

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Tim Falcon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 September 2013 at 11:41am
Run too many games and you risk burnout. You have to balance it against your pool of people. 

Would just any kind of game be sufficient? Could you run, for example, a dozen room games in addition to your regular schedule and expect folks to come out for them?
- Brett
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Cedric Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 September 2013 at 12:19pm
I agree Brett.  If you quickly ramped up the number of games, you'd have burnout.  I think you have to balance which and what type of games vs your population.  I think it can be done though.  Low production vs high production matters as well.  I'd just like to see IFGS turn into more of a culture like Amtgard with weekly events and monthly large events all over the country to travel to.  Still, in general I believe more events is the way to go.
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Spencer Corbin Lawson

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Spencer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 September 2013 at 9:33am
I do agree with Brett that too many games can also be undesirable, but that is only if the very few are doing all of the heavy lifting. I am hoping to get some brainstorming on how to make things easier to get more people to do the "hard stuff".

The next question is what can we do to make more games happen if that is what makes chapters succeed?

IMO the biggest problem we had in PNW was sanctioning. It was really hard to get people fully trained to make sure games followed all of the sanctioning rules. I would love to see a simplification of sanctioning.

I have some ideas of what could be done but I would rather find out if people agree with the premise first.




Edited by Spencer - 24 September 2013 at 9:35am
Spencer Corbin Lawson - PNW Member"It looks like they used the tried and true combat tactic of hiding behind the MU." Camille Graves
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Cedric Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 September 2013 at 12:54pm
Here in DB, we have talked about simplifcation of sanctioning as well.  I don't think that's the primary issue with DB at the moment.  We have 10 trained active sanctioners atm, with 3 more in training that I could see promoted to full members at our next meeting.  Sure, if we can make sanctioning easier, that doesn't hurt, but that's not the big issue here.  I think DB would also be interested in working with you on your ideas to make it simpler. 

With that being said, I think our issues are communication, manpower and production of games.

1)  Communication - We have too many streams of communication in DB right now.  Our PR chair helps us organize this, but we have the forums, facebook, e-mail, phone, etc.  It's just hard to keep in good contact with everyone.  Also, some people are really bad at responding.  They say they are interested in staffing a game, so a producer writes them an e-mail and never hears back from them.  As a producer I'd rather hear a no, than no answer at all.

2)  We don't have the manpower to function as we used to.  Between GMs, registry, treasury, prodcuer, SO, WD, etc, there just aren't many people left to play or NPC.  

3) Production - I think we could improve our method of producing game, at least in DB.  We could work on consolidating information on sites.  Work on organizing our props/costumes.  Make the process of budgeting easier.  Work on standarized game copies to make it easier to read/understand.   

Mike
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Post Options Post Options   Quote whaddon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 September 2013 at 1:02pm
To be a successful chapter you should run lots of games in the early 1990s.
If IFGS could just get rid of the games so it could focus on sustaining its own bureaucracy... we would finally be living the Dream.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Spencer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 September 2013 at 7:54am
Originally posted by Cedric

1)  Communication - We have too many streams of communication in DB right now.  Our PR chair helps us organize this, but we have the forums, facebook, e-mail, phone, etc.  It's just hard to keep in good contact with everyone.  Also, some people are really bad at responding.  They say they are interested in staffing a game, so a producer writes them an e-mail and never hears back from them.  As a producer I'd rather hear a no, than no answer at all.


I feel your pain there as well. I HATE the fact that I had to join Facebook to join in IFGS discussions. I broke a promise to myself to not add another message system to my life.

Spencer Corbin Lawson - PNW Member"It looks like they used the tried and true combat tactic of hiding behind the MU." Camille Graves
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Post Options Post Options   Quote whaddon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 September 2013 at 1:07pm
Spencer - I joined FB for exactly the same reason.
If IFGS could just get rid of the games so it could focus on sustaining its own bureaucracy... we would finally be living the Dream.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote SidP Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 September 2013 at 3:56pm
I am confused, I will admit that I am old and that adds to the problem, so let me get this straight.
     I need to join facebook to participate in the forum discussions that actually belong here?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote whaddon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 September 2013 at 4:18pm
Yes, that is correct.  The world has moved on and much of the IFGS business now happens on Facebook.
If IFGS could just get rid of the games so it could focus on sustaining its own bureaucracy... we would finally be living the Dream.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Ray M. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 October 2013 at 8:46am
Originally posted by Spencer


Originally posted by Cedric

1)  Communication - We have too many streams of communication in DB right now.  Our PR chair helps us organize this, but we have the forums, facebook, e-mail, phone, etc.  It's just hard to keep in good contact with everyone.  Also, some people are really bad at responding.  They say they are interested in staffing a game, so a producer writes them an e-mail and never hears back from them.  As a producer I'd rather hear a no, than no answer at all.
I feel your pain there as well. I HATE the fact that I had to join Facebook to join in IFGS discussions. I broke a promise to myself to not add another message system to my life.


Ya, I agree. I have long had a Facebook account that, as my friends will attest, sat largely ignored for a long time. Then I produced a game this year and realized just how much the "world" has turned to FB to get their info. Grudgingly, I now try to monitor my FB regularly ... mostly to keep up to date in IFGS. Just what I needed ... another time sink.    
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Ray M. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 October 2013 at 9:04am
Originally posted by whaddon

To be a successful chapter you should run lots of games in the early 1990s.


lol
Having been there, Will ... I am just going to say that to me the early '90's seems (IMHO) to be the beginning of a lot of problems that IFGS in some ways is still trying to get past ... but it is interesting to see that is your impression. It's all about perspective.

You were like a brand new kid in IFGS in the early 90's ... maybe it was just that IFGS was still "new and exciting" to you. As I think about it, I wonder if most people do not look back to their first few years as the "best" times. Like a "honeymoon period" where everything is still new and cool to them (and they haven't seen the underbelly of IFGS yet) ...

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Ray M. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 October 2013 at 10:22am
Back to the topic, I do not think there is any one "answer" to how to be a successful chapter because success is a pursuit, not a destination. Like the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow ... I am not sure you can ever "arrive" at success. So the path you choose to take is what becomes important.

The first problem is defining what "success" means; it is an extremely nebulous term really. And not only will that definition likely be different for different chapters; it will differ amongst people within the same chapter.

For a chapter to be able to determine what success is for them ... it first has to understand what is their goal ... what is their mission they hope to accomplish.

In my mind, a successful chapter is one where the members are being made happy and therefore *want* to participate in events. It really does not depend on the size of the chapter or the number of games. Where the problem seems to start is when the chapter is not giving what the members want ... therefore making them unhappy.

Unhappy people put that activity farther down on their priority list. And then they find other things to do that are higher on that list. The trick then becomes finding what will make *everybody* happy. The many discussions on the Forums of late nicely illustrate how difficult that can become.

And all of that is on the shoulders of the people who step up to be the leaders of the group. Good leadership comes together to find these paths and inspires the people why they should want to follow that path. Then it takes good leadership to work together toward that goal, not 10 different people all trying to accomplish their own personal goal.

So Spencer, in direct response to your question ... to me, the biggest contributor is the leadership of the chapter. To determine if a chapter is a "success," I would ask the chapter ... does your leadership know what it is trying to accomplish? Are they all working together to accomplish it? Is it what the membership wants to see?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Kye Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 April 2014 at 5:50pm
I can't answer what makes a chapter successful, but I can give advice on what causes a chapter to fail. I watched SE Wisconsin move out to Madison (which I hear has also gone inactive, :(  ), and our own prov chapter go dark for a while. So, here's what I've learned from both, and hopefully it'll help"

First, a few lessons learned from my time playing in the old  SE WI chapter (before they began running in Madison)

1. Get the Word Out!- I joined IFGS when I was 14, after I had ran into a booth at GenCon 35 in Milwaukee. They had some weapons for display, a video playing of a game, and a sign up sheet. Put my name on it, and promptly forgot about it. A month later I got a call asking if I wanted to play. This was appreciated, I would've never remembered everything I saw at GenCon (was my first big gaming convention, so I was needles to say a little overwhelmed). Even after it moved, they hit up local cons, doing a 'Fight the Knight!' challenge, letting people swing foam a bit and sign up. However, for one reason or another, SE Wisconsin stopped heavily advertising, and vocally protested the ideas of finding more cons and passing out flyers at local gaming stores.

2. It's Non-Profit, so Don't Charge Too Much- Our major indoor site hit some hard financial times, and decided to start looking at the chapter as a source of income by raising the site rental fee. This, in turn, raised the game budget, and made our games rather expensive ($15-$20 for a player on average, sometimes more). This cut our active players easily by half. I didn't notice too much at the time, as I was still in high school and my dad was paying for me (and playing himself), and sometimes for my friends for doing work around our home. Still, in retrospect, we should have located a cheaper site. Large fees scare away even the most dedicated players.

3. Don't Form Cliques- The board of the old SE WI chapter was very insulated. They always got their friends in the chapter to reelect themselves time and again, and the games always favored them. I helped produce a game where one of their friends didn't find a tiny bit of treasure (53 gold out of the total game treasure, to be precise), and wanted to protest my game, because they shouldn't have to search bodies to get -all- the treasure. It was nearly a year before I was 'allowed' to help produce a game again. On the opposite end of that, a private board meeting (correct me if I'm wrong, but those are all supposed to be public, right?) was made to ban an item of mine because I used it in a different manner than the game writer intended. I had been bringing in large amounts of friends from school to play, some of which stopped coming after seeing this. Moral of the story is don't let personal groups and prejudices get in the way of your chapter. It's ugly and people take notice. 

4. Don't be Afraid of Change- Eventually, my friends who remained in chapter and I turned 18, and took a more vested interest in the chapter politics. We tried running for board, were told we would fail no matter what, but still tried anyways. When the results were tallied, they were lied about. My friends and I had taken pictures of our ballots, and the amounts of votes we were counted as receiving were easily at least 5 less than what was actually submitted. When I spoke up, I was told that I was mistaken, and no one would ever vote for a kid. I never returned to that chapter again.

In between the former SE WI games, and my group of friends contacting National about a provisional chapter, we played an unofficial version of IFGS, with slightly modded rules. Personal differences and concerns about insurance for liability caused us to split, and form the Greater Milwaukee Chapter after contacting National. We had a rough start, but we're looking to get things going again. A few more things that I can give as advice here.

1. ORGANIZATION- This is a HUGE one. Our first game went well, and we had swelled heads, but a few games down the road, we had our last game. The money almost got lost, the property was almost damaged, and someone was almost injured (heat exhaustion).  After this particular bad game, combined with a few life drama-bombs happening (college for several players, my father's passing, and a few other issues), we kinda let it go away, the props sitting, gathering dust, the cash box chillin locked in a cabinet, with no real direction to go.

2. Keep Running Things- Our second biggest hurdle from our summer of two games to the next summer was to keep interest alive. In WI, not everyone really enjoys the idea of a cold weather game, so, indoor sites are important if you don't live in an area of constant nice weather. Even if it's small events, keep the torch burning! This year, we're also going to be experimenting with small non-game events, like weapons workshops, costuming tips, and maybe even psuedo-mini-games where people can playtest a class they've never tried before, all in the name of keeping things alive.


Our first game since we've recouped is this Saturday, and I'm hoping it will run smoothly with everything we've learned. Thank you for taking the time to read this, :D
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