Daniel Ortiz: How O.P. and Third Place Intersect
By Daniel Ortiz of Magicsur Chile
Here at Magicsur Chile, we have two approaches to developing our community.
First, we teach the game to as many people as we can. Second, we create the habit of coming to the store regularly, at least once or twice a week. Without new players, the store won't grow. Without creating the habit of in-store play, those new players won't become regular customers.
As humans, we want to be with our peers. We want to be sociable, meet friends to talk with and have a nice time with and enjoy interests we have in common. One of the advantages of tabletop games is that they abet this. Communities develop around them. They turn the local game store into a "third place."
"Third place” is an important concept for different cultures all around world.
Your first place is your home, your second is your workplace, and then there's your “third place," where you can relax after a long day, study, or even just be bored with friends. Different cultures have different third places. Usually coffee shops, bookstores, pubs, hairdressers, and malls.
Our goal at Magicsur is to be that third place. We want players to visit us every week and to know they have someplace to go any time we're open. We achieve that by creating a place to meet friends, hang out, play a while—be it in a casual or competitive way—and see what new Magic products are out.
Some WPN programs help us achieve this. Take League, for example. So long as a player joins the league, they've always got an excuse to stop in the store, and they've always got opponents waiting for them.
To create this habit of weekly play, we've established these four policies and implemented them since the first day the store opened.
1. Have an inviting play area.
One of the key elements of a third place is that the décor is simple and comfortable. People feel relaxed and welcome there. This doesn't mean you need a huge lounge or an expensive build out—just that your space is as comfortable and clean as possible.
2. Create a safe and welcoming space for young gamers.
We work hard to be the kind of place a parent feels comfortable letting their child spend time. Coach young players on trading so that more advanced players do not take advantage of them, and educate experienced players about respecting beginners.
3. Keep your event calendar clear, simple, and fixed.
A third place is reliable—participants know they can stop in and find something to do. All our events have the same schedule during the week. League is a good example here, too. A weekly meetup event to pick up packs and get matches in helps get new players used to the idea of coming in weekly.
4. Schedule everything.
League, Open House, Standard Showdown, etc. Again, a third place is dependable. There's always a reason to stop in. Every new thing they can think of in Seattle is something that you can bring to your store in Santiago, London, Madrid, Tokyo—anywhere.
It is in your hands to keep your community alive. By uniting third place principles and your advantages as a tabletop game store, you can become the third place that so many people look for and see new players returning week after week.