The first week of June is National Volunteers’ week and as NPUK and all of the community groups contained within are run by Volunteers we feel it is important to celebrate this very important role within the community!
As a committee member of NPUK and a founder of Nintendo Basingstoke it’s fair to say that volunteering is something I do, however that was not always the case! Before I started Nintendo Basingstoke I never really supported anything in particular as far as volunteering goes, I would give my time and services to different causes occasionally but nothing consistent and it felt more out of obligation than anything else! But to start volunteering for something you enjoy and believe in really adds a whole different meaning! No longer is it about how much time? It’s about what I can do!
Running events as a volunteer is a lot trickier than people may think, but it’s a whole lot of fun! Firstly, it’s the organisation of venue and dates, can you do it for nothing? As one of our biggest rules is what we offer must be free, this is one of the most difficult aspects, then what are you going to do? Sure people love to turn up and play games but with no structure it will soon run out of steam or hit road bumps where everyone wants something different! For me, theming an event is a golden rule! Give them one focus point and draw everyone into it. Then keep that focus point changing each event so everyone’s taste is addressed at some point. In doing so you help people to try new things! Running the event on the day takes a special kind of focus. On my first event which was 7 years ago last month, I was lucky enough to get to use the rec room at GAME HQ! (Don’t ask me how) Imagine a room that was decorated head to toe with Nintendo wallpaper, and more screens than you can shake a stick at! Amazingly we managed to be the first place in the country where you could play Mario Kart 8 on the WiiU! A Mario Kart tournament was therefore a must! However, I quickly realised that running this event was a difficult task, with people everywhere, asking questions that needed answers, making sure all were happy and contained (we couldn’t have people running riot in GAME HQ) as well as ensuring people were where they were supposed to be, ready to race in the correct race; that the scores were recorded correctly, and it was running to time! Time is a huge thing, you need to be on it the whole time as it soon runs away, and trying to rush a final as you are out of time is a very stressful thing! This first event really set the bar for Basingstoke events and although exhausting, it is so much more exhilarating! Now, rather than cope with it by myself I have an amazing team who help at every event! Jeremy is definitely the craziness of the group, keeping everyone entertained and his ideas for events just add another level! Oliver is the tournament king able to keep them running like clockwork with a vast knowledge of every game to solve any issues; and Vicky who spends countless hours finding prizes and theme ideas for every event! I simply could not do it without any of them!
Obviously the last Covid year has created new hurdles! The team has really stepped up again and started to run our events online as well as running almost daily Discord nights for a variety of games. It has really helped to keep the community we have created entertained, and I could not be prouder of them!
Doing all this for the last 7 years has also led to me to other things but among one of my most loved is being a volunteer ambassador for Safe in Our World, a mental health charity for the games industry focusing on helping not just people within the industry, but the gamers too, really focusing on how games can help people! Something I truly believe in: In running events we have had our fair share of people attend really scared and shy. In some cases not able to enter the room, because of their anxiety, yet through encouraging them just to try a few minutes or helping them to meet someone, it has literally changed their world and through a love of gaming has made them feel stronger and more able to cope with social engagements and actually belong to something! Now you would not know they ever struggled, which is a beautiful thing to see!
That is just a small taste of how I got into volunteering, what it entails and what it means to me! It’s not about what can I get out of it, it is what can I help someone else get out of it! So much love goes out to all the crew of NPUK and all the community groups who work so hard at running your events and keeping this fantastic community going! You are all amazing and deserve to spend this week thinking “I do this and I am proud!”
Written by Anthony Haigh