Killing the game: Board Game Guild sees massive increase in membership

The Board Game Guild has doubled its membership this semester. While the club’s membership has previously hovered around 40-50 students, this year’s sign-ups at Cokes and Clubs exceeded 110 people. 

Co-President Nathan Wilkes expressed surprise at the rise. “I’ve never seen so many people beeline towards us,” he said.

Wilkes and Co-President AJ Vrieland have ideas as to why membership has spiked this year. “We were all kind of just stuck inside for a long time recently, so we had to find other things to do rather than go out and hang out with friends,” said Wilkes. 

Vrieland pointed to the fact that the club was barely operating during 2020. He believed many current sophomores are attending for the first time. “We have basically twice the freshman class coming into the Board Game Guild,” he said.

Sixty-four people attended the club’s first event on Sept. 17, where they played a selection of board games and card games. According to Vrieland, this is the biggest turnout for any event the BGG has hosted. 

Freshman Jackson Silhavy, who joined BGG at Cokes and Clubs and attended the first event, attested to its high attendance. “There were three or four rooms, they all had a bunch of people,” said Silhavy. “It was packed.”

On Sept. 25, BGG hosted their first roleplaying game night for tabletop games such as Dungeons and Dragons with 38 people in attendance. Wilkes said that roleplaying night is usually attended by about a quarter of the club. “Seeing [the turnout] be almost two-thirds the size [of the club] was impressive.”

The co-presidents had invited club members to join them at Gen Con, the world’s largest board game convention which took place in Indianapolis on Sept. 19. Wilkes said that interest was high. 

“Within three hours we filled up the van [that we had rented]” he said. Silhavy and other students took leadership up on the offer, joining BGG for Gen Con despite an early departure time of 5 a.m. on a Sunday. 

Leadership of the BGG don’t plan to waste their momentum. Dorm events, where the club will bring games to dorm basements for floors to play, will be coming later this fall. A Settlers of Catan tournament is also in the works.

BGG meets for board game nights on the first and third Fridays of each month, and for roleplaying nights on the second and fourth Fridays; both are held in the Commons Annex.