by Sarah A. Peterson-Camacho
Fresno’s game scene is ever-evolving, but the Fresno Board Gamers have remained a bedrock within the swiftly-moving stream of gaming culture, gathering weekly for over ten years. Kings River Life caught up with group co-organizer John Bowling to talk about the group’s origin, its evolution, and the enduring appeal of tabletop gaming.
KRL: What is the origin story of the Fresno Board Gamers?
John Bowling: Mark Jackson used to run the Fresno Gamers group that met at New Life Church in Easton; I’m not sure when the group started, but I think Mark was one of the first people to start importing and translating games from Germany in the 90s, though. In 2013, Mark moved out to Tennessee and some of players from that old group wanted a new place to play. The Teazer in Downtown at the Galleria opened their space to us, where we gamed for years prior to the closure of that location. We started the Facebook page shortly after starting at Teazer. We searched around a few locations before settling on our current location.
KRL: What part do you play in the group (i.e. president, vice president, etc)?
John: I am one of the organizers, being one of the regular attendees for several years. We don’t have officers as we’re not incorporated, or really that formal.
KRL: How often do the Board Gamers meet?
KRL: What games are most popular? What are some favorites?
John: Recent favorites have been Wingspan, NEOM, Gizmos, Quacks of Quedlinburg, Hadara, Little Town, and Grand Austria Hotel. And also some lighter games: Just One, Brikks, Subtext, Point Salad, Patchwork Doodle, and Bargain Quest.
KRL: Do the Board Gamers include role-playing games (RPGs)? If so, which ones?
KRL: What is Bookwyrm?
John: Bookwyrm is a volunteer-run gaming community that promotes the social and educational benefits of tabletop gaming within the Fresno County Public Library. The Bookwyrm Gaming Convention has been held every year since 2013, at the Woodward Park Public Library. The Bookwyrm group also holds year-round gaming at various Fresno County library branches.
KRL: What events have the Gamers participated in/hosted?
John: The Fresno Board Gamers have hosted a weekly game night for ten+ years, moving as host businesses close, or the active membership wants a change of scene.
The Gamers have volunteered at Zappcon (Fresno’s gaming and nerd-culture convention, held twice but since cancelled), Tabletop Day put on by/at Fresno City College, and Bookwyrm, hosted at the Woodward Park Library. For the larger events, we typically run a board game library in cooperation with the Crazy Squirrel Game Store, in which we lend board games for people to try out, help with teaching the rules, and also offering demos of popular entry-level games.
KRL: How does one join?
John: Membership is informal: anyone can show up and play games on any given night. We have a Facebook page for relevant announcements, and for promoting events.
KRL: What upcoming events do you have planned for the fall?
John: Beyond our normal Tuesday night gaming, nothing formal is planned for the fall.
For more information on the Fresno Board Gamers and their upcoming events, please visit their Facebook page.