Gaming in Glasgow

1 March 2019

A closer look at the city's thriving scene

Anyone walking down Union Street could be forgiven for thinking it’s turning into geek central. From Tokyo Toys (manga and anime shop) to Geek Retreat (combination coffee shop and retailer with a focus on geek culture), non-mainstream shops are a growing presence.

While what is now known as “geek culture” has become more mainstream in recent years, there have always been geeks and those with geeky hobbies in Glasgow. One prominent club, G3 Gamers, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

A club spokesperson says: “The club originally met in the basement function room of the Iron Horse pub on West Nile Street. We were only there a short time, before having to move, and after moving from a few venues, we eventually found space at Woodside halls, which was sourced by one of our members who worked for the council. We are still there to this day.” The club initially started out in one of the smaller rooms, but has since grown enough to use the main hall.

Although G3 Gamers started out with fewer than 10 permanent members – two of the current committee members (both in their late 30s) have been there since the beginning – it now hosts up to 60 gamers at a time. A normal Tuesday night for the club sees 40 people through the doors to play anything from Warhammer to Dungeons and Dragons.

G3 Gamers has various ways for people to get in touch and arrange games. While there are several games being played at any one time, people can also use social media (most commonly Facebook) to organise games themselves. Gamers normally post a message about what they are going to bring to their next meeting on the site, and ask if anybody would be interested in playing. Other members, including committee members, then chime in to say if they would like to join them in playing.

Many members, especially newcomers, also use the social media channels as a means of asking if their particular interests are represented in the club membership. Since the club has been going for 20 years, long-term members and committee members are well aware of what people like to play. They can give newcomers an accurate idea of what will be a likely scenario. The club is particularly well-known for its Warhammer players, with every iteration of the game well-represented.

The club sets itself apart from other groups and retail spaces by providing a place which welcomes all gamers, avoiding “gatekeeping”. According to Andrew Bussey, “little things like spotting a new person in for the first time and introducing themselves, volunteering to help out at the various game shows we attend across the country, and helping to prepare and organise materials that get used on the club nights” are huge factors in creating a welcoming atmosphere and encouraging newcomers to become members. Another committee member spoke about the variety of games on offer: “Two long standing roleplaying groups, two good size groups of board gamers, playing various different games, though the majority is miniature games, but even here there is a lot of variation with historical, fantasy, science-fiction, and others being represented most nights.”

Geek Retreat holds events and contests for specific games, possibly following in the footsteps of Gaming Workshop which specifically provides space for this. These are, however, normally limited by space and clientele. According to a committee member, G3 Gamers has managed to grow so significantly in part due to the fact that they do not discriminate. Andrew Bussey says: “We’ve always been open to all forms of gaming, we always set out to provide a space for someone to play, as long as you can find an opponent and provide what you need in terms of miniatures and rules.”

G3 Gamers does more than simply provide a welcoming space for all kinds of geeks and gamers; it does a substantial amount of charity work as well. An all-day gaming session is held every year in support of two main charities  – MacMillan Cancer Support and Social Bite, a relatively new enterprise which aims to eradicate homelessness in Scotland. The cancer charity was chosen in memory of an initial club member who sadly passed away several years ago. The club also uses its self-service tea bar to gather donations for these causes on a weekly basis.

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