Tis’ the season! Or something like that.
Back when I ran my own club, Trek Online (TOL), I was (perhaps overly) fixated on instilling an esprit de corps among my members. I didn’t want the club to be a bureaucratic collection of games, where people remained confined to their ship, and where their only involvement with the club was to show up and play their character. I wanted Trek Online to be a community. A place where people were informed about the going-ons of the club, were active citizens, could move freely and partake in all we offered, and most importantly, built lasting friendships.
One tool I used to break down barriers between individual crews was to hold Star Trek chat and trivia sessions. This was a little easier when Star Trek was on the air – each week we would have what is now called a “Watch party.” We would also endeavor to out Trekkie each other via a weekly chat room trivia session and a dedicated e-mail string.
Another thing we did was to throw a chat party every few months. Club wide “holidays” – such as our election day, were an excuse enough to throw a party. Real life holidays were another. My favorite was our “Non denominational winter solace Apollo 8 anniversary party.” Sometimes, though, our gatherings were spontaneous. People would be hanging out online – a person invites a few people into a chat room, another person invites some more people, and boom, a party.
Our parties were imaginative affairs – one could find themselves smited, or thrown into a vat of spam. Many jellybeans were consumed. In all of this, the main purpose was achieved. People from different crews came together. Boundaries were broken. New links were created. Ultimately, a meta story that drew from the culture of the club was created.
Perhaps in our modern era, where social media is ever present and people can interact and part at the swipe of a finger, happenings like the old chat parties and e-mail trivia strings of Trek Online are a thing of the past. Still – as FallFest recently demonstrated – when you bring people together outside the normal setting of their game, barriers break down and amazing things occur. Every club should throw a party now and again for its members.