I’ve been thinking about this a bit in the wider context of increasing participation in Netrunner full-stop, rather than specifically for minority groups, so forgive me if this is a little too broad.
As someone who started playing just a few months ago, literally kitchen table with my housemate and who has now built an almost complete physical collection, played a lot on jnet and played in one GNK so far, I think something could definitely be done to make the competitive (or non-casual, however you want to characterise it) Netrunner experience more welcoming.
Now don’t get me wrong, when I decided I wanted to play a GNK (and it did take some convincing of myself to get me to go along), everyone seemed super friendly, I didn’t experience any negative behaviours from other players or anyone involved in the tournament, but it was intimidating and made me feel anxious, simply because it was competitive, organised play.
So I wonder if we could devise a new tournament structure or set of additional “rules” (I prefer guidelines) to help make this first (or second or third or tenth) time experience just a little less frightening and thus encourage more players to come along and keep coming along and progressing to GNKs, Store Champs, Regionals, etc?
Maybe something that revolves around not playing all of your games against people you don’t know yet? So somehow skewing the schedule of games so that if you came with a partner you usually play with, a larger proportion of your games are with that person, to provide a “safer” feeling portion of the tournament, while still exposing people to playing new people and facing unfamiliar decks, mechanics etc?
I’m definitely going to think about this more and try to come up with some more actionable and full-formed ideas, but I thought this perspective might be at least a little helpful for others as a way to think about some solutions. In short, the main concerns which made me anxious about attending a GNK were:
- Not knowing the people I’d be playing against, and specifically how they might act/behave (I don’t play any other LCGs, so I had no evidence-based impression of what a “typical” Netrunner GNK field might look like, people-wise)
- Not knowing what kind of decks I might face and how comprehensively my own decks would be beaten
- Not knowing what would be expected of me in terms of my proficiency in the mechanics and tactics/strategy of the game
The other thought which keeps coming into my head is some form of well-publicised “beginner’s night” or some kind, where people can come along, learn the game using suitable, provided decks and try it out with no investment beyond their time. Perhaps there would still be barriers in attending such an event for people who fall into the minorities we’re trying to reach out to, but it might be something to explore (if people haven’t already).
Sorry for the essay, kinda just bashed out a stream of consciousness - hope it’s at least somewhat useful!