How many is too many?
A number of times I find that there are too many people vying for a game. At my local club there are a group of up to six regulars and two or more irregulars (and visitors) who will turn up on a Saturday to participate in a board game.
Most times there is not a problem, there are a few games (usually) that can play up to six (or more). What happen occasionally are the extra bodies of the irregulars or just visitors that are thrown into the mix? Here comes the dilemma, is there a game that someone brought on the day going to accommodate the increased numbers or do we break into separate groups.
I have found that it is a difficult problem to solve as it is indicative of watching clique alignments. When the issue arises, one member will always suggest splitting into two groups, they have no problem with that outcome. Others though are less enthused and the problem of who sticks with who becomes apparent (to some).
Social dynamics is always interesting and rather depressing to me to watch. I see people form groups based on competitive enjoyment, clique alignment or just whoever is left gets to join in. Mostly I find people are loath to split as they unconsciously (perhaps not) realise that they have to make a choice and that that choice may reflect on them as a person.
In my own case I really dislike when the groups numbers force an issue of this nature. I play games to socialise more than being competitive, this sees some people viewing me as the weak link, it also leads to some “picking/ganging up on” mentality as I can be removed early from play or I’m just a source of their own victory through whatever game mechanics are in play. I try not to let this affect me but it does, occasionally when I’m at a weak point mentally I’ll explode and vent my displeasure, but thankfully this is an exceptionally rare occurrence.
How then do you solve an issue of breaking the numbers down into manageable sizes?
Look at the games that have been brought along on the day. Do any of them allow for the larger play group? Is there consensus to play this? If there is then play, if it is not then break the games down into play sizes.
Most people tend to chose who they’d game with based on the game. Competitive games attract some, cooperative others. A group consensus then needs to be made over which games will meet people’s desire to game in a divided group.
A novel idea (which I haven’t trialled) would be to just do a random draw for the games chosen and allocate people to those games. This is of course a mature way of looking at/solving an issue, however people may not like the outcome and may baulk altogether at playing with the random draw. Trust me I know human nature better than most when it comes to the psychology of group dynamics.
Another option (the most sensible and practical) is that advance notice be given prior to a meet up. Social media today is a boon when it comes to advertising intent, mind you, you will need people who use a common forum. Post what games you would like to play and sign up people to play the game on the day. This means that people will know they have a game to play, reduces time lost through procrastinating and people will know the groups personality dynamics – all in advance.
This is of course a difficult operation for some; hopefully you can find a solution that can help.
Till next time.
The Hon. John