When I was much younger (like in my teens), I was an avid wargamer and role-player. One of the things that made this much easier for me was the existence of three different gaming clubs: the Conflict Simulation Association (CSA), the Fantasy Role-Playing Game Association (FRPGA – pronounced “ferp-gah”), and the 6th Precinct Wargaming Club.
- CSA met on Tuesday nights at Coffman Memorial Union, since it was a student organization at the University of Minnesota. Oddly enough, we wouldn’t game all the time. Sometimes we would just sit around and talk about gaming – or Monty Python, or comic books, or Star Trek, or medieval history. But throughout the school year, Tuesdays from 7pm until 11pm were spent on the third floor of Coffman, now thoroughly remodelled and completely unrecognizable.
- FRPGA met on Saturdays, also at Coffman Memorial Union. It, too, was a student organization. From roughly noon until midnight, gaming would go on – or not, as different groups and campaigns took over different meeting rooms on the third floor.
- The 6th Precinct club met on Friday nights, in the community room of the Police Department’s 6th Precinct. Located at 26th and Nicollet in south Minneapolis, the 6th Precinct was a forerunner of what would later be known as “community policing.” We never saw the cops; the community room had it’s own entrance, and from 7pm until late into the evening (and morning), gaming would go on in this one long, narrow room. Complete with lots of folding tables and chairs, shag carpeting and woodgrain paneling, it was busy with gamers rolling dice, no matter the weather outside.
So now I’ve come to discover that both the CSA and FRPGA are no longer to be found at the University of Minnesota. The 6th Precinct was eliminated long ago in city budget cuts. While it is the case that the Guild of Wargamers and Roleplayers is alive and well at my new alma mater, Iowa State University, I began wondering if gaming clubs are still viable as places to find like-minded gamers. It paralleled the dismal news frequently heard about the disappearance of the Friendly Local Game Shop (FLGS). It’s not that hard to form a student group or a club – it seems to me that there ought to be opportunities to do this – is it just that people don’t think this way anymore about gaming as a social activity?
Fortunately, a review of the list of student organizations at the University of Minnesota revealed several successors to my old favorites. The Campus Crusade for Cthulhu, the Campus Wargamers, and the Society for the History of Naval Warfare all seem to be carrying the flag for gaming on campus. Even so, there doesn’t seem to be a club for tabletop role-playing games (as we now refer to them) – room for growth, methinks!