Wednesday, February 17, 2010

School Video Game Clubs

Disclaimer: this post is based solely on opinions and experiences of the author, Mr. Hay.

At the high school where I taught, I operated a student video game club for many years which continues on in my absence. I've had a number of people ask me about suggestions for starting their own video game club, so I thought I'd use this forum for posting my thoughts on what I sometimes call "intramurals for nerds".

  • make sure the school Administration is informed and on board with it
  • get some other staff members involved if possible, at least to help with supervision
  • parental consent forms are probably a good idea
  • lunch hours seem to work well, perhaps two a week at first
  • student fees, maybe $5 to $10 per semester, are not unreasonable, and help you to be able to purchase consoles and games
  • a Wii is probably a good starter system, since there are a number of good, safe multiplayer games available, and it is usually cheaper than the other two systems
  • students seem willing to bring their own games if you have consoles and TVs provided; some may be willing to bring consoles, but those don't transport as well and you may need to have policies in place for dealing with them
  • it is usually easy to find older TVs for free as people are upgrading to HDTVs, ask around or check out Freecycle
  • it doesn't hurt to ask businesses for donations, games, and/or systems
  • you may want to have network cables and a router or switch available for networking consoles for multiplayer games
  • online gaming (e.g. Xbox Live, PSN, WoW) is not recommended, and probably not an option in your school anyway
  • restricting game ratings is a good idea, especially if you have younger students involved; check ESRB
  • Rock Band and Guitar Hero style games are great, since they're multiplayer, generally not offensive, and getting less expensive
  • it's nice to have a room where the video game equipment can stay set up, or perhaps just pushed to the sides of the room
  • organizing tournaments, similar to intramurals, is good for involving more/new students, and you may even be able to organize competitions against other schools
  • you may be able to get the student council and/or parent council involved to help with fund raising and/or event planning
  • other groups or teams in the school may be interested in borrowing your equipment for their own events
  • probably the most important thing is to have the students involved and to keep communicating with them; this will give you ideas about what to do, what to buy, help prevent theft, and make the club more engaging for the students

This is by no means an exhaustive list of how to run a video game club, but hopefully it helps or is at least interesting. Feel free to comment here or contact me if you have questions or concerns. I'd also be interested to hear about other school-based video game clubs or competitions.

- Hay

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