Tonawanda News

Features

August 29, 2011

Buffalo Gamers Society uses Meetup.com to connect with members

TOWN OF TONAWANDA — If you’re Sorry you can’t play more boardgames and you could use the amusement of a nice card game or two to take your mind off the Trouble of Life, perhaps getting shuffled up with the Buffalo Gamers Society is the way to go.

The group, created by husband and wife team Wesley and Donna Young in the spring of 2008, meets a few times throughout the month to play card, board and role-playing games.

A regular meeting spot is the Panera Bread at 1747 Sheridan Drive in the town. Every other Monday the society meets to play card games — classics like pinochle, spades and canasta. On the opposite weeks, on Fridays, a more boardgame-focused event is held.

The Youngs say they bring along at least 25 board games and several decks of cards to each event to make sure there’s a little bit of something for everyone. And if you’re not sure what you’re doing when you sit down to a game of spades, have no fear.

“We are very welcoming,” Wesley said. “The whole nature of our group is to just have fun and if that means that you have to explain how to play a certain game to somebody, we’re very obliging to do that. Anybody is welcome, you don’t have to be some hard-core canasta player or something.”

Which is exactly why Cindy Moore and her husband bring their 8- and 13-year-old kids along to the meetups.

“My family has always played games and I’ve tried to instill that in my family too,” Cindy said. “My children and I and my husband play games. We have a housefull of games, probably more than we ever will be able to play.”

Cindy says she values the fact that her kids enjoy their hobby and enjoys the fact that they are able to spend quality time together as a family. The couple has even started picking up some of the video games the kids enjoy.

“(Nintendo) Wii makes things a little more active and family-oriented. We’ve made it a family thing and we have lots of fun playing things like Rock Band,” Cindy explained. “I think that the video game companies (know) that families are getting a little concerned about kids playing video games by themselves and have come out with more family-oriented games.”

Donna says the idea to form the Buffalo Gamers Society came after she experienced trouble trying to put together a regular game night with friends. She grew up playing a variety of card games with her family and wanted to continue that practice. Wesley, too, was a lifelong gamer interested mostly in games like Dungeons and Dragons.

“I grew up playing computer games, (Donna) grew up playing all kinds of traditional card games so the interest has always been there,” Wesley said. “When I got older and started working that was the No. 1 thing I heard form other people: ‘I would love to play Dungeons and Dragons again,’ but nobody knew how to get a group going.”

Donna ran across the website www.meetup.com, which caters to groups looking to organize gatherings, whether for one-time events or regular club meetings. The website shows that the Buffalo Gamers Society includes well over 400 members, and even though Wesley admits it’s closer to about 100 active members, with no more than 20 people showing up to each meetup, the couple knew they couldn’t fit everyone into their home.

“(Panera Bread) had a lot of seating space and Donna called the management and they were very welcoming of the idea (to have the meetups there). We always come back to them, they’re the best location,” Wesley said.

There’s no fee to join the Buffalo Gamers Society at Panera Bread, but organizers do encourage folks to patronize the restaurant while you’re there by at least purchasing a drink.

And who knows, while you’re enjoying that drink over a game of Settlers of Catan, you just might make a long-lasting friendship.

“There are places online where you can play traditional card games virtually but there’s something to be said for sitting across from a real human being,” Donna said. “Meetup.com gives you a way to do this ... there are definitely people out there that want to play card and board games.”

Just one word of warning from Wesley, if you plan on attending a meetup.

“We don’t play Monopoly,” he laughed.

It takes way too long to finish.

Visit www.meetup.com/BuffaloGamersSociety to learn more about the Buffalo Gamers Society and their meetups, including some held at University at Buffalo where gamers focus on playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 116.

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