Notes on the AGM held at Warlord on the 1st December 2018
We had the full council in attendance, alongside a number of clubs, a number of whom attended through SKYPE (Including Lasse from our Danish member club). For the first time we had an affiliate along to observe in the person of Simon Toft from Warlord.
The GCN has had a traumatic couple of years, which have seen members coming and going, not always under the best of circumstances, but this meeting was to set the course for the future not remonstrate what has been.
Financially the GCN is in a good place, with healthy bank and PAYPAL accounts which has allowed us during this period of transition to waive the current subscriptions and charges.
The access to specialised insurance continues to prove popular and has been made easier since clubs now go direct to the Company rather than through the complexity of the GCN being a 3rd Party. This also allows clubs greater flexibility in how they wish to arrange or add to their insurance and has proved a boon for those living in areas that would normally attract a higher rate.
The GCN has an effective website, created only within the last three years which allows clubs to join and renew their membership online as well as a number of Facebook pages allowing club interaction.
The main concern of the meeting involved both the viability and relevance of the GCN as we approach 2020. Does the GCN have a place in an age where social media has effectively changed the whole environment of not just this hobby but the entire culture of we live in.
The EGM held in August highlighted three key areas of concern
1) Lack of member club involvement in the running of the GCN
2) Concentration of power within a single person or club
3) The relevance of the GCN to clubs and affiliates
The Main Proposal: The Living Page
After many visits and consultations the Council concluded that there were effectively three major bulwarks of the hobby, the member clubs, the manufacturers and the bricks-and-mortar shops and that a Network that worked for all of their interests would be in the best interest of the hobby as a whole. The result is the Living Page. This was described thus…
MG and JF explained the concept of each member and affiliate having access and control over their own ‘page’ which would contain their club information (as currently required) plus details of games played, events run by or attended by them. In short, a living newsletter in which they can decide which information they want to display to their members and/or the greater Network of member clubs, affiliates and casual browsers. All of these pages would link to a central database allowing all the clubs and affiliates to be part of a dedicated information network. JF and MG will work on the planned upgrade of all current media platforms in the near future to accommodate this. Discussion presented the option to enhance and expand the role of bricks and mortar shops and manufacturers as affiliates of GCN, and the impact this will have on current membership. The key points were as follows…
i) The GCN would provide a one stop information highway for the hobby, allowing the transfer of information between club, shop and manufacturer.
ii) Most of this information would be available as a service to the casual browser, but to take full advantage and partake would require the page facility and status as a club or affiliate.
iii) The information provided by a club on top of normal current requirement would include a list of game systems played such as 40k, X-Wing and Bolt Action, events attended, such as being regulars (whether visitor or exhibitors) at certain shows or participants at certain tournaments down to miscellaneous facts as to whether they make their own terrain. It could also include any interest in taking part in rules testing or putting on sponsored games. The club could use the page to advertise any upcoming show or tournament they might be attending or running. As stated earlier the individual club would decide how much or how little information they would want to include.
iv) The commercial affiliate could use their page, which would undoubtedly be linked to their own website, to advertise their own events or those they are attending. Where this would prove invaluable would be the ability to target clubs, based on keywords in their pages, with direct offers, requests for help with running games at shows, possible play testing of new rules based on the genres of their preferred systems and of course advertising.
v) Some Examples of the possibilities of such a linkage would be as follows…
a) A gamer wants to know what is going on in his or her area, so types in a postcode. Dependent on any filters used, this would bring up clubs, shops and local events with times and locations.
b) A manufacturer is looking for clubs to playtest a new system being developed, so types in the genre. A list of clubs playing in that genre will be displayed, including their propensity for running games at events.
c) A gamer interested in taking up competitions in a particular game system types that in and dependent on filters (area and dates for example) a list of events involving that system will be displayed.
d) A shop looking to tailor its product line and target local clubs would have this information available from members.
vi) The point was raised that this information could be gleaned from Google, but then argued that even Google has its limitations as information may be difficult to filter down or may not even be available.
This was debated in detail and after a spirited exchange the meeting was presented with three options, A & B would be based on the use of the Living Page
A) The GCN should continue and open membership to commercial entities
B) The GCN should continue with the current system of clubs and affiliates
C) The GCN has run its course and should be closed down
The Meeting voted for Option B, some of the disadvantages of the others were that A would bring complications in the tax structure of the network while C, after consultation, would not be straight forward thanks to recent financial regulation. Attendees also felt that the GCN had a future and could fulfil a unifying role with the right support.
The Living Page will slowly come on line over the course of 2019/2020 and clubs are encouraged to join or renew membership under the current system to be ready for the changes as they happen. A notification letter will be sent out following a large ad appearing in February’s Wargames Illustrated.
For this year, the subscription (for members) has been waived. From September 2019, this will be at the current rate of £20 per annum with set charges for affiliates being set at £30 for B & M shops and £40 for manufacturers. Future rates will depend on the take-up of members and affiliates against the cost of maintaining the GCN (The Officials take no remuneration or expenses for their time). It is hoped that these will reduce.
In the light of these changes, it was agreed that the GCN should amend its title from the Gaming Club Network to the Gaming Community Network to better represent its role in the hobby. This will be done over the course of 2019 as the Living Pages come online.
Other Items (in brief)
Volunteering: A call was made for volunteers to help with both the administration of the Network and the online work which is currently focused on the current five officials. The GCN is in need of a Membership Secretary and a Treasurer as these tasks are currently being carried out by the President. The Living Page once set-up should ease the administrative side, but the more online savvy volunteers are needed to help with this to bring it into reality. This would also help take advantage of some of the online facilities offered by the companies (including the administrators of the Lead Adventure Forum).
Housekeeping: The meeting voted to update the bank mandate to remove two ex-officials and add one more.
Retention of experienced Officials: It was proposed that the Council should be able to appoint retired Officials with particular expertise and experience to ensure continuity and provide assistance where necessary. These appointees would provide advice but would not have voting rights.
That ends these notes, GCN member clubs wishing to see the full unabridged minutes should contact myself at firstname.lastname@example.org