FRIDAY GAME NIGHT!
Friday Game night created V2GL. The culture of game night spread as students from neighboring high schools wished to bring the same experience back to their own schools.
Friday Game Nights are usually run every other Friday through the school year. V2GL will post dates to the V2GL site and most schools will probably be able to follow that schedule. If you’d like to do your own dates at a different time it should be fine but most will have an easier time finding scrimmages during our V2Gl scheduled nights.
We encourage you to invite your whole school to the event. Inviting the school to come to game night will help to build your following,
ensure a good crop of players, and help with raising funds.
Students are encouraged to bring in any console, old or new, board games and even their own game props to share with others. Some students will bring their own computers but we like to make the computer lab available as well for those that are playing eSport games such as CS:GO and LoL so that those that can’t bring their rig or can’t afford one have access.
Friday Game Nights are usually a time for Vsports players to practice and setup scrimmages with other schools, possibly all the other side of the country
We like to do Friday nights since school will usually clear out pretty quickly and only those that are supposed to stay for game night will stick around. Other week nights we may have issues with students hanging around or all of a sudden wanting to be a part of the game night when they had not paid on time to be included in the night’s plans. Saturday and Sunday didn’t seem to consistently be available for lots of players and having to find a ride there and back could be a problem for some. Friday is usually available for most students and they want a place to come together and socialize on Friday anyway. We recommend taking money all the way up to the start of class on Friday morning. That should give the mentor or whoever is coordinating some time to get refreshments for the night and a chance to plan and budget. We would recommend making the reservation time a hard and fast rule or you’ll get people trying to pay that night and by that time you’ve already budgeted for who you expect and there won’t be enough for everyone. If you plan for those people you will often lose some of the funds you were hoping to use elsewhere because they may not actually show up.
Food brings people together and it can often be a good social lubricant for most folks. Since everyone is going to be at game night for 5 hours or more you should provide food for the night. This is another good reason to charge for game night as it essentially takes care of itself and provides an immediate return for those paying to be there. We like to do pizza since its easy, most everyone likes it and pizza can be relatively cheap. We can usually work with pizza chains to get something around $5 for a large single topping pizza. You may be able to use your tax exempt status as an educational institution to save a little on food purchases as well. Do some research and find the best return for your club. We are cultivating a number of discounts from franchises and we will try to post those so we can move to a more uniform discount across the League as we secure food sponsors.
A rule of thumb we usually use to buy pizza is: for 12 or fewer people, cut the total in half and add 2. So if you had 8 people for the night we would recommend getting 6 pizzas. When the count of people for the night is over 12, take the total number for the night and add 10 more kids. Take that total and cut that number in half. So if you’re expecting 30 people, add 10 more for a total of 40, cut that in half and then we would order 20 pizzas. Think about the kids who will eat more than others and those that won’t eat much and adjust as you see fit. As we often find each school is different so adjust accordingly. When we started, there was one student that would basically eat everything at the end of the night so if he was coming we would adjust the number just a bit to accommodate for him showing up. We’ve found its usually better to have a little pizza left over at the end of the night than run out early. Of course you don’t want to have too many whole pizzas left over either so work on finding your sweet spot.
We usually supply drinks as well. It may be easier to get bottles of soda since it provides a lid for your drink and can protect against spills more easily. If you feel you want to try and squeeze a little more out of the funds you’re raising then 2 liters and cups may be more your speed. Just make sure to let everyone know that sugary drinks can ruin some electronics. If you’re doing bottles we usually figure getting 2 for every student. If you decide to do 2 liters go with the same formula as the pizzas.
Different locations charge anywhere from $10 to $20 to attend game night. Some charge nothing at all. You will have to consider your audience and what they are able to pay as well as what the school can help with. Since this is something that will be run at your school make sure you are following the fundraising rules. Some districts and charters may require that everyone attending be part of the club and then what you may be collecting for game nights would be dues. However you are allowed to collect funds is really up to you and your governing body so just make sure you are following those rules. If you want to run discounts to help kids out feel free. We usually run one price for our players and a little higher price for the kids that are coming in from the rest of the school. For those that have a little trouble coming up with the whole amount we will often see if they can help clean up at the end of the night, help pack things away, and try to make it more affordable for them. Its always nice to have help at the end of the night. To help get consoles that you may need for practice or tournaments run specials for those that bring in consoles for everyone to use. For instance if we run a regular 15 cost for entry into game night we will let those who bring consoles in for 10 instead. We will often have anyone bringing in a console pay 15 and then get 5 bucks back when they bring in the console in for game night. You’ll want to give those that bring in their consoles a place to lock up their equipment as well since they will show up to school with it and not cart it from class to class. You will usually want to cut this console deals for the console types used for our gamer tracks such as PS4s and WiiU but feel free to run what ever setup you’d like. We wouldn’t recommend offering discounts for those that bring their PC. Usually PC players are going to want to use it themselves but, if they are going to allow it to be used for VR experiences you could include it with the discounts.
Most of our V2GL mentors that run game nights are able to get off duty pay from the school for running this service. As we grow as an organization we would like for the off duty pay for the mentor teacher to be a consistent part of this aspect of running game nights and practices.
Talk to your IT department before running your game night. We’ve found that most IT people know the kind of games we’ll be running and see the merit in having them at game night. You’ll want to make sure you can connect to Oculus, STEAM, Xbox-Live, PlayStation OL, League, Nintendo and any other multiplayer services that you may want to run on your own. Make sure Skype and other video chat programs aren’t broken as coaches and teams may want to interact with other clubs before and after scrimmages. Test your speed at your game night location and make sure it will be enough to accommodate your needs. Since most everyone will be gone by the end of the day on Friday you should have better speed than during a week day.
Make sure to utilize your computer lab as best you can. CS:GO and LoL are fairly low level as far as specs so your school computers may be able to run them without issue. Make sure your IT department will allow you to install games onto those desktops as well.
For your VR needs, you want to try to pull from your student body if possible but otherwise, you could use the fundraising opportunities of game night to help pay for headsets and many students may have computers that will already be able to handle them. If you’re having trouble getting VR gear you can refer to our research for presenting to administration or grant money to help provide VR equipment for your high school. We are working to leverage partners through V2GL members in an effort to create packages and discounts for high schools to purchase a ready made VR lab that could be used for Vsports as well as any other academic VR experiences.
If your school issues iPads, talk to IT about allowing them access to games on their iPads since they can be a great platform for tournaments. We like to run Vain Glory and Clash Royale tournaments and there may be some other games that your school really enjoys playing at game night. iPads can be a good eSports platform for those that want to be involved but may not have the resources to do so
-OTHER FUN THINGS-
Your players will practice and run scrimmages but don’t forget to run tournaments and other things for the general school body coming in. Tournaments are fun and Its pretty fun to see students from outside the club come to game night to try and take down the big guns in Street Fighter, Smash or some other single player game. Most of the time those tournaments will be around single player games since it can be difficult to pick up a team to play Overwatch or LoL. We’ve found a lot of prospects and fun from doing a death match tournament in a favorite FPS to include the school and give our players a chance to jump in as well.
No matter what you do make sure to advertise what you have planned for a game night. Making it look like you have different activities planned from game night to game night and will definitely drive traffic to your event. If you are at a point where you can offer prizes for tournaments or other parts of your events make sure to advertise what those may be as well. Announcements over a loud speaker aren’t always a great way to advertise but a mass email to the student body with a fun set of images and text will definitely help out. Usually students get pretty good about checking their email so utilize it to your advantage. Any other way to get the word out to the student body is of course up to you and what works best at your institution.
We’ve posted a few activities that have served us well over the years.
Nerf Wars – Call them Nerf blasters. It will probably do you well to call them blasters for those admins and parents who shutter at the thought of kids with brightly colored foam dart shooters. Nerf blasters are easy to use, fairly indestructible and give the kids the physical outlet that most of them want. Since Nerf wars aren’t a regular game that have a preset number of rules it is a good base to quickly make up games. Capture the flag, death match, bridge battle and other game modes are just ready to be crafted by students on the fly. We have use game night funds to kit out our foam armory and the nice thing is that the guns should last for a while. You may need to get some new darts from time to time but that’s up to you. We would recommend using the Mega Dart blasters as they give better performance, they whistle for a nice effect, are much easier to find, have longer range and don’t generally get eaten up by the blaster like some of the elite blasters. The rival blasters are really nice and do have great range but the price may keep some from going for those blasters. We also created a live action set of omni rules called L.A.U.G.H.S. that have some ideas for Nerf wars and other live action experiences.
Mafia/Werewolf/Are you A Cultist – This is a fun party game that has a card component that you can buy at most game stores. These usually require some kind of host but most of the time a student wants to run these. These kind of games may need their own room or space so just keep that in mind.
RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons, Rifts, FATE, Castle Faulkenstein, 7th Sea, Cyberpunk 2020, Paranoia, Vampire, Mage and so many others are a welcome and regular sight at game nights. The opportunity for a consistent regular time and place helps to make any campaign or short story a good fit. Some schools just keep a bowl of dice around so anyone can join in as long as the GM/DM/Storyteller gives the okay.
L.A.U.G.H.S. – V2GL created the LAUGHS game to quickly get people into a Live Action Role Playing game or LARP that allows the creation of most any character anyone can come up with in a quick and easy manner. We use boffer swords, nerf blasters, foam archery, foam shields, and other field modifiers like rope and cones to designate areas of play as well. A copy of the LAUGHS system is available on the V2GL site and by clicking the image of the LAUGHS manual cover.
Anime Theater – We often have students that just want a place to hang out. So, we designated a room as the Anime theater. The kids who follow anime in all of its forms would show up with anime or sometimes Korean soap operas to watch for the night. This just requires a room and a screen with sound to make this happen. These folks generally have a good time just chilling and this room often becomes a place for adhoc dance parties and a chill space for anyone just wanting to relax.
Youtube Karaoke – One fun night our anime folks asked to do Karaoke. They thought we’d have something for next time but we quickly made it happen that night. We had a PA with a microphone for the school and Youtube has 100s of Karaoke ready songs with words already animated for singing with a backing track. When we realized that the whole game night crew was belting out the Pokemon theme song we felt like we had a winner. This is pretty easy to setup and as long as you have a pretty good mic and PA for the singer(s) this one is a pretty easy win.
Halloween Black Out Night – Most every gamer loves Halloween. V2GL is definitely included in that. We have run large Halloween night extravaganzas that usually get over sold and we have to turn people away. One idea that is easy to setup and run is a black out night. Its pretty simple, we black out all the windows, turn off or cover any lights that we can and then we light the place in colored light. This adds a fun feel to the night and with the addition of cheap moving projection lights and you have a really fun environment for many of your activities. Many clubs have decided they want their game nights to look like that all the time so they always black out the windows and put up the moving colored lights. One more step for this would be to create a monster maze during a black out night. With this you may take a set of rooms that connect, a hallway or some other part of the school and black everything out. Then find some people who would be willing to be monsters. The monsters get boffer swords or some other foam weapon that they can “tag” people with. Then take groups of students that want to brave the monster maze and give them one glow stick for the whole group. Tell them they have to make it to the end before they get taken out by the monsters.Trying to work by the light of one glow stick is freaky to some and for those that it doesn’t bother the human drama that ensues from those that can’t handle it often bleed into those that can. Make sure everyone knows that once a monster tags a player the monster will take them by the hand back to the regular game night area. Its a good idea to run the regular game night concurrently with the black out monster maze since you can probably only run one or two groups through at a time. Don’t do groups larger than 4 since more than that might create a train that pulls on each other and could cause some issues.
Super Mega Awesome Mario Kart Spinout Showdown – This is our foray into Japanese game shows. We took something that everyone loved to play and gave it a new layer. We instituted a host to run some fun commentary and to announce the strange things the players would have to deal with. We would create a tree for a tournament like usual. Then we created a randomizer that would pick out challenges for the racers. Some challenges we gave to players were: annoying little brother (a person that could do anything to distract the player except get in their line of site), the Iron Helm (we had a steel helmet that was very heavy an had poor visibility through the grate so it made it difficult to hold your head in a certain way to see the screen well), Stink Mask(we found some horrible stink bubble solution, put it in a disposable paper mask and watch the fun as the person tries to escape their own face as they race), Race Upside down (we found recliner and had the person race with their head hanging down where their legs should be) Fat Finger (put their hands in several layers of gloves and then try to run their race). We used a projector and created the biggest screen possible so everyone could watch kept the winners from each cup to move on. We usually give new challenges for each race during a cup but feel free to run it how you’d like. Since we ran cups we would usually make the tournament single elimination keeping the winner to move on.
Managing the space with a number of students can be a challenge but there are some things that we believe should be prioritized. First you need to make sure all the students are in a safe place and can be viewed without too
much trouble. In other words it should not take a mentor more than a minute to reach where students are situated. It is necessary to have room for kids to play games so you might
have to take over other classrooms, supply rooms, gymnasiums, labs and so forth. It is best to have a central hub room to work from. This room should have as many screens as possible to use for gaming. We usually like to go with projectors since they give a huge screen can create a picture pretty easily anywhere, they’re easy to move and store. We managed to get projectors for 250 -300 dollars but you can find cheaper ones that will do the job especially if your following the black out motif. Just make sure your projectors have and HDMI and you should be good.
Game night is a time for the students to come together outside of the regular academic setting to socialize and compete on a level playing field. Gaming is pushed at company retreats for team building and games are used with counseling or therapy sessions to give people a safe place to discuss or play with the ideas they can’t normally express. These same strategies are used at game night. Students get into a mode of play and all of a sudden they are using the positive skills that they already know such as:leadership, collaboration, improvisation and critical thinking. Sometimes the kids at school are told what to do so they don’t get a chance to exercise these skills on their own. We want to give them agency to take care of game night. So one sanity saver is finding those kids you can trust to run tournaments, collect materials, host nights as an MC or any other number of things. Those are the kids that can be a sounding board for game night ideas and can be the ones you use as your go to person. Also think of those kids that tend to give you issues. Place important responsibilities on these students and make it so everyone will require something of them and they will rise to the occasion. We’ve seen it time and time again but you may need to tweak your handling of them as you try things out.
With games, and video games especially, experience is really what matters most. You don’t have to be physically gifted to be the best and there is no issue with male vs females playing the same games. This is an even playing field for the most part. Because of this, there are easy wins for everyone. Give everyone a chance to win in front of everyone else. An easy win goes a long way to give people some hope to recreate it and turn themselves around. Tournaments are really good for this but, you have to help reset the skill level sometimes to get everyone in.
One example of hard reseting the skill meter for everyone involved Mario Kart. Most everyone plays Mario Kart and to reset everyone on a fairly even playing field we created the “ Super Mega Awesome Mario Kart Spinout Showdown”. It didn’t matter if you knew all the courses and could run straight rainbow roads all night because now you had to race upside down or with a mask full of horribly awful tear inducing stink juice as you tried to race to the end. Check out the description of the Spinout Showdown in the “Other Fun Things” section.
Of course you don’t have to just do tournaments, some of our favorite nights were doing youtube Karaoke. This one sprang up organically around our J and K-pop kids who liked to hang out and watch anime. One night they asked if they could do karaoke. We said why not and made it happen on the spot. Youtube has karaoke songs with words on screen for everyone’s taste. When the mentors realized that everyone at an oversold game night was singing the theme song for Pokemon we knew we had to do it again. Karaoke is a great way for everyone to get in on something fun. Just make sure it doesn’t end up as the gong show. Instead have a host or two that will step in and help sing if someone seems to be faltering. We want everyone to feel like they are supported. Make everyone feel like they are on the team by supporting them in every activity. Check out the “Other Fun Things” section for setting up youtube karaoke.
Adding fun things can also drop people’s guard about failing allowing, them to jump in with out fear of really failing.
Mentors need to participate. You didn’t decide to help start the club just because you thought it would be good for the kids. We’re pretty sure you started it because you enjoy gaming as well. Mentors should get in and try to play. Get up and belt out the hits with everyone else. Get in on a Smash tournament even if you know for a fact you have no idea what’s going on that chaotic screen. Seeing their mentors try and fail or even knock it out of the park will do nothing but endear your students and players to you and be willing to get involved themselves.