A big problem for game stores with social media has always been classification. Sites like Facebook, Google+ and Yelp do not have a category for “Tabletop Game Store” or most of the time even “Game Store”. The closest we generally get is “Video Game Store” or “Hobby Store” or “Book Store”. It’s enough to make a store feel unwanted and unloved. Give the amount of searching that is done by people looking for a game store on places like Google, Yelp and Facebook, not having such a category makes it that much harder for potential customers to find us.
The “ comic book store” classification does help those stores that carry both games and comic books, but quite a large number of game stores specialize in that area to the exclusion of the other and the ones that don’t care comics would do themselves no favors by listing themselves in that category, only to have to put off customers who come in looking for comics. Same problem with using the “video game store” category. It is fair to say that there are a lot more video game stores than there are tabletop game stores (though probably far fewer as more video gaming moves to mobile platforms) but listing a store in the video game category would just disappoint customers coming in looking for video games.
Game stores have a similar problem when it comes to categorizing store events. Facebook offers a very powerful tool for stores to promote in-store events with its “Events” section on a store’s business page. However, none of the categories in the event section work particularly well for a Pathfinder Society session, a Yu Gi Oh Sneak Peek, a Pokemon league, a Warmachine tournament or even a scheduled Friday Night Magic. Stores could probably fit in the categories of “Entertainment” or “Interest”, but once there, the choices for Entertainment are Comedy, Concert, Dance Performance, Nightlife or Theater, while under Interest they are Conference and Meetup, none of will really applies well to the tournaments that most stores create as events in Facebook.
When he learned a few weeks ago that Facebook planned to revise how the website handled the Event category in its software, Pat Fuge of Gnome Games decided now would be a good time to try to get “Tabletop Games” added as a choice in the options offered so he sent out the following email, reprinted in part below:
We all want people to play games together. Telling people about the Tabletop Game Events that are being played is an important part of bringing people together at the table; and Facebook is one of the best social media tools to do this. But currently there is no option for us to do this. We can have an event that is a festival, a dance competition or a sports event - but nothing resembles a simple tabletop game event.
I am asking for your help today. Like and share www.facebook.com/TabletopisanEvent and if you so desire, put a pic of you playing your favorite game on the page as well. Use the hashtag #tabletopisanevent and tag Facebook too to help increase the exposure.
As Fuge pointed out in another section of his email, doing this will not cure cancer, fix the economy or anything like that. If it Facebook makes this change though, it will make it a little easier for people to find other people with which to play games and that is certainly worth a smidgen of effort.