Category Archives: Charity

International Tabletop Day

tabletop

Last Saturday, 5th of April 2014, was International Tabletop Day! A celebration of all things tabletop game related. I realise that this post is a little late but I still wanted to tell you guys what I got up to!

Brainchild of Will Wheaton of Star Trek and Tabletop fame, the day is dedicated to the gathering of gamers and those interested in gaming. It’s a great way to promote the hobby and get more people playing games and I was really looking forward to taking part in as much fun as I possibly could.

So, wanting to optimize my play time I worked out what my options were and set out for a day of fun and games!

As you might already know, I attend a monthly board game session held at Firestorm Games over in Cardiff. This year they were running a Tabletop event that was both a celebration of gaming and a fundraising bake-sale event for the Help for Heroes charity. As a full time board game fanatic and a cake addict, this was the greatest news I’d ever heard, so I headed there to start.

Arriving over in Cardiff at 10am we played a few quick games of a Donkey, a children’s card game that one of the younger members of the group was thoroughly enjoying. It may not have been my kind of game but we all had some fun and that’s what the day’s all about right?

After Donkey we had a couple of games of Forbidden Desert, followed by Fleet, Eight Minute Empire: Legends, Dominion and finally Wits and Wagers. There were so many different types of cake it was unbelievable and staff from Esdevium games were on hand to demonstrate Terry Pratchett’s The Witches, Ticket to Ride Nordic Countries and Carcassonne.

The whole session was a great success and a lot of fun was had by all. A big thanks goes out to Clare for organising the cake sale and fundraiser, not to mention Roy for making sure everyone knew about it, and Jake plus the Firestorm staff for making sure everything was running smoothly on the day. By the close of business the cake sale had managed to raise £128 which is really great!

With Firestorm closing at 6pm I had a plan in place to continue the gaming fun. Thanks to Ian over at Rules of Play I’d heard about another Tabletop event running nearby that started at 7pm. Just enough time to dash over and get a good table. So, almost as if I’d planned it, we made our way over to The Gate to join the Rules of Play team for more gaming delights. I’ve seen their sessions at The Gate advertised on numerous occasions but living over in Bristol has meant that we, sadly, couldn’t make it over to any of them. Unfortunately weekdays, work and travel just don’t mix that well. However, this Tabletop event was a Saturday so we HAD to be there!

The event kicked off at 7pm as planned and we began with some games of King of Tokyo, we then followed this up with some Zombie Dice, which I haven’t played in quite a long time. Nikki and I ended our gaming at about 10.30pm after a game of Citadels. By this point I was starting to get tired, Nikki was sure her brain was melting, but Chris soldiered on and joined a group for a game of Ticket to Ride Europe.

Nikki and I sat chatting at our table and were shortly joined by Steve from Rules of Play who we chatted to until the very end of the evening. It was really good to get to chat to him outside of the store and Nikki and I had a great time discussing all manner of subjects with him. At one point he tried to persuade us to give role playing games a try, something I’ve avoided like the plague since my first and only experience of them put me off for life. However, Steve was quite persuasive and even Nikki seemed to be warming to the idea slightly. In fact Steve was so persuasive that I’ve since ordered a copy of Fiasco to dip our toes into a very simple system and have been looking into the FATE Core System too!

All in all it was a great evening and the perfect end to a wonderful day. We played some awesome games and met some fantastic people who I would love to spend some time gaming with in the future. I even got some fun tabletop promos which really topped the whole thing off nicely. Unfortunately I didn’t see any of the 7 Wonder Will Wheaton promo cards but What I did receive was totally awesome! and all I can really say is that I can’t wait for next year!

Gromit Unleashed – A Geeks View

Super Gromit
Well it’s been a great summer here in Bristol, UK. For the first time in ages we’ve had some amazing weather which actually lasted long enough to be worth talking about. However, the heat and sunshine aren’t the only things that people have been talking about, Oh no! The big buzz in Bristol this summer has been all about an event called Gromit Unleashed!

Throughout the summer months eighty beautifully decorated Gromit statues have been located in various places across Bristol. The challenge? To locate each and every one of these beautiful works of art within ten weeks.

Leading with a slogan of “80 Gromits, 10 weeks, 1 city” the campaign kicked off on July 1st 2013 to great public interest. By the end of July Gromit Unleashed sculptures had already been visited by over 100,000 people and the small exhibition inside the Gromit Unleashed shop at The Mall Cribbs Causeway was seeing an average of 2,000 visitors a day.

The figures alone sound pretty impressive, but what was it all in aid of?

The extremely successful event was organised to raise money for Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal, the Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity.

“The Bristol Royal Hospital for Children is a world-class centre of excellence – one of just seven children’s hospitals in the UK equipped and able to offer specialist treatment and lifesaving care to over 100,000 sick and critically ill babies and children every year.”

So, by supporting the event thousands of people have been out showing their support for one of the country’s top child care units. I can’t think of a better reason to join in with the fun than that!

Personally, I started hunting Gromits the day after the event launched and I have to say It’s been a totally brilliant experience for me and all those who took part. I was overjoyed to find and photo my eightieth Gromit earlier this month when the organisers moved him from London Paddington back to its home here Bristol. I was even lucky enough to locate and snap a shot of the elusive Feathers McGraw, the Penguin cat-burglar who dresses as a chicken! The organisers moved this little guy around the city several times during the campaign and provided a little hint or tip as to his location via their Twitter feed.

Unfortunately the main hunt has now finished and over the past four days all eighty Gromits were reunited to form the “Greatest Dog Show on Earth” exhibition. The exhibition has been so popular that organisers have had to extend the opening hours way beyond their original expectations. Sunday morning even saw fans queuing from 4AM!

However, despite still experiencing very high demand, the exhibition has sadly ended in order to make way for the next stage of the campaign. The eighty delightful dogs are now heading off for a good groom in preparation for a Gromit Unleashed auction being held on October 3rd 2013. All eighty works of art are to be auctioned off to eighty lucky bidders in order to raise yet more money for this amazing cause. I really do hope that there’s people out there with very large wallets waiting to snap up these beautiful pieces.

The main hunt may well have finished, but those of you who are interested in placing a bid or reading more about the campaign can take a look at the Gromit Unleashed site or donate to Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal by visiting the Grand Appeal site.

So, now that you’ve read about the campaign, I guess some of you might be wondering why I’ve put this post up on my otherwise game-related blog. The answer to this is two-fold. Firstly I want to help spread the word about the great work that’s been done here and, secondly, I wanted to highlight the amazing use of Gamification throughout such a large-scale public campaign.

I’m not going to wax lyrical about Gamification in this post; that would take a several posts which I’m thinking of doing over the coming weeks. Here, I just want to call out the fact that the Gromit Unleashed campaign employed several game elements to great effect, using them to drive interest and increase footfall.

From what I could see, when you break the campaign down there were three main elements or goals.
1. Raise money for charity.
2. Provide a social/public event for the people of Bristol.
3. Increase tourism and business within Bristol.

Without a shadow of a doubt this campaign achieved all three of these things, but how did it do it? The simple answer is Gamification and good marketing!

For starters, the organisers advertised and promoted the event all over the city, if you lived in Bristol it was likely that you knew about the hunt before it even started. Once people knew about it all the organisers needed to do was keep them interested. This is where the gamification comes in!
Taking game elements and applying them to this real-world, non-game context the organisers were able to hook into basic human emotions and needs.

First up we have the very nature of the main event, a form of set collection. In order to see the entire trail exhibition you had to go out there and find each and every one of the eighty Gromits. People, by nature, like to collect things and in general they like to have a complete set. Just think back to Pokemon with its “Gotta catch them all” slogan and the popularity of the subsequent games.

Secondly, the organisers included technology in their campaign. Creating a Gromit Unleashed App was a brilliant move. This simple, inexpensive app provided iPhone users with another way to become involved or engrossed in the Gromit Unleashed campaign. It also raised further money for the charity from the sales.

How does this relate to gamification you may ask? Well, when you downloaded the App it provided some of the most common elements seen within a gamified solution. Avatars and Achievements.

The avatar played a lesser role in the overall Gromit Unleashed App letting you select a Gromit image and your name which was then used to report your achievements back to the public website for everyone to see.

As I mentioned earlier, once you have the public’s interest you have to keep it. If you don’t offer people choices or goals then the repetitive hunt for yet another statue would soon grow tiresome. You also have to offer them a hand if things get too hard. If something seems too hard to someone then they will soon become bored. Likewise, if it’s too easy then they will also become bored. The Gromit Unleashed achievements seem to have balanced this with great skill!

Achievements were given out for completing a variety of goals such as locating a certain number of Gromits, finding a set of specific Gromits, or even hunting down the Gromit of the day. This all tied in nicely with the Gromit check list that enabled you to check off each statue as you found it. Throw in a little GPS magic for locating those hard to find statues and voila, a system that guides you through the whole trail, offers incentives to carry on, and provides a helping hand when times are hard. Beautiful!

When I first started out on my hunt for Gromits I rapidly became impressed with the use of gamified elements. I marvelled at how simple it all seemed and quietly wondered how many people realised exactly how much thought would have gone into creating such a finely balanced campaign. The organisers have done a great thing here in Bristol, not just great for the charity, or logistically great, but technically great too. They have a lot to be proud of and I tip my cap to them.