Gaming Advice: 6 Characteristics of a Great Gaming Space

Considering six key factors when choosing where to play can vastly enhance your gaming session.

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)

By William McAusland

 

I’m sure like me you’ve gamed in many different places over the years. You might have gamed at your house, in the park, in a gaming shop, at a convention or elsewhere. No doubt, some of those places were more suitable than others. Some places are simply better suited to gaming than others.

When planning a gaming space, consider the following factors:

  1. Space: Roleplaying often takes up a decent amount of space. Beyond the area having enough floor space to physically fit everyone you also need space for furniture – normally tables and chairs – along with space to dump your bags. (Gamers often bring a lot of stuff to a game). Also remember, that people will be getting up to fetch drinks, use the bathroom and so on.
  2. Furniture: A decent-sized table is vital to most games today. Beyond having somewhere to rest your character sheet, dice and drinks a table must often also accommodate a battle mat, figures and more. Just as important are comfortable chairs. Given us gamers sit down for long periods of time, comfortable chairs are a must!
  3. Temperature: Gaming is a pretty sedentary activity. Given we generally sit around when we game it’s a good idea to play in an area with a comfortable temperature. Remember also that many gamers now bring devices to the table. Some don’t emit much heat, but others like laptops can rapidly increase the temperature in an enclosed space .
  4. Light: Sure atmospheric lighting is good fun, but it is always handy to be able to actually see the play area. You should be able to see the table without straining your eyes.
  5. Amenities: Given that many gamers bring devices to the table, choosing an area with multiple power points is a good idea. After all, if your character sheet or the adventure is stored on a laptop or tablet and you run out of power you are done for the session. If your sessions run much over a couple of hours it’s also good to have a bathroom close at hand. In my Borderland of Adventure campaign we play in Raging Swan’s global HQ and we also have a kitchen close at hand for people who need tea, coffee and so on to get through the mind numbing horror of my GMing.
  6. Distractions: If at all possible, pick an area free of distractions. Possible distractions include pets, small children and so on. Turn off the radio or television. Atmospheric music is fine, but much beyond that is going to negatively impact the game experience. Also consider the amount of noise you make when gaming. If you playing near ill people, children trying to sleep, people trying to work and so on you’ll need to take that into account. Angry people bursting into the room telling you to “keep it down” are somewhat distracting after all. (And of course if you play in someone’s house it’s generally a good idea to not annoy their partner and children!)

Help Your Fellow Gamers!

Do you consider anything else when choosing a gaming space? If you do, why not share your considerations in the comments below and help your fellow games choose a better gaming space!

This post is part of a week-long celebration of my 10-year-old son starting his first campaign for a group of his friends. He’s been slaving away over his dungeon for weeks and hopefully, they all enjoy themselves and become life-long gamers. I also get to play in the campaign, but of course I’m playing the cleric…

Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

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14 thoughts on “Gaming Advice: 6 Characteristics of a Great Gaming Space

  1. We had to make our gaming sessions a nonalcoholic fiction after a rather memorable gaming session where we played for 6 hours and managed to get half the party killed in a fight with a high powered npc and the story line completely off track ending up in a total reboot of the game world.

      • I run with a couple of drinks, usually Honey Brown from the distant Rochester area of New York. Most of my crew stays sober, but I like a great ale.

      • LOL, I was going to post “Play in a pub” – I do that for most of my games. Tables, space, food, booze all taken care of! 😀 It helps I’m in London where pubs are tolerant in general and geek-friendly pubs are quite common.

  2. Great points, all! I was working on a similar article for my Thirdwalling blog, but if you don’t mind I’ll just link to this one instead – with some of my own comments about it.

    A word on lighting: As more and more gamers are bringing technology to the table like tablets and laptops, diffused lighting is more important. If an area has lots of windows for natural light that’s great for seeing the table, but horrible for seeing your laptop screen through the sunny glare. Sometimes closing the drapes and using lamps – even on a nice sunny day – is better for our eyes, though not our tan lines.

    On booze at the table: This is primarily a non-issue for my group, as we game at the local game shop. When we played in my living room I’d keep a cooler of pop and beer close at hand. Gaming is about relaxing and having fun with friends. If handled maturely and responsibly, social drinking at the game table shouldn’t be a big deal (and never was for us). We all often meet up at a local restaurant before game and we’ll have a beer with dinner to relax after work before we go play. That being said, we’ve had players in the past who couldn’t handle that and got out of hand – you’ve got to know your players and your game and make the right choice for you!

    Whatever you do, be respectful of your surroundings. If you’re gaming at a game shop, a group of adults smelling of beer might not be the crowd the game store is trying to attract – and if you’re in a friend’s living room, ask before you bring a 24 oz. Corona. They might not want their kids exposed to that.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • Please link away – I’m delighted you enjoyed the article!

      I liked your point about lighting. It’s a great point as trying to read a screen that’s not a Kindle in glaring light is a nightmare.

  3. I think you nailed everything that is necessary. Can’t think much beyond this. When I was playing, I was fortunate to be friends with my boss’s landlord, and he gave us this great space in an old office. It’s an old meeting room, a desk for the GM, a table for the players, a bathroom right next to the space, great lighting.

    I hope I get the desire to play again because I’d hate to lose that space.

  4. So what should we do when players disagree on temperature? I can barely stand even slight heat as I begin to sweat like a waterfall and feel dizzy if temperatures get close to 20°C, but at that temperature at least a couple of the players are still freezing. So many disagreements and arguments have been caused because of having the back door open.

  5. One more useful thing is WiFi, more players use online characters and books
    We stream atmospheric background music with the occasional 80s montage for epic fights