As previous readers of my blog can tell you, I work as an IT support tech (and if I haven't mentioned that before, now you know!), and that is in a call centre for a insurance firm. The atmosphere is really good and generally the staff are a good lot, and every week, like many places, we have a dress down day where we pay £1 and that money goes to charity just so we can wear jeans and a t shirt to work, which, I am sure you will agree, is a nice thing to do.
Every so often, we have specific 'fun days' for the larger charities, such as red nose day or children in need, where we have a range of activites throughout the day along with cake stalls and other nonesense. Over the last couple of years I have taken it upon myself to introduce my beloved hobby to the workers there, and have decided to run tournaments on those big charity days so I can a) feel like I am helping and b) get people to play games they normally dont. Its a good thing, not just an excuse to toss off work for a day. Honest.
Each time I have run a tournament I have messed about with the formula a little bit, but have now come up with a few concrete rules on how to go about running them, which I thought I would share with you, the lovely people of Gamespot, just in case you too decide to run such an event. So here are my rules to running successful tournament at work:
1 -Keep the matches short
Remember, you are still at work, so pick a game where the matches are short and can be finished within five minutes. I prefer to use fighting games for this, such as Street Fighter IV, but Fifa or a racing game could work too. This will have the dual effect of keeping players interested and not annoying any managers.
2 -Pick a straight forward game
You dont want anything too complex as people will not be into it, and the win conditions need to be clear. Again fighting games are good for this, and since people can pretty much just button bash and you dont have to really tell them what to do, then it saves on stress for all involved.
3 -Keep the whole thing small
The last time I run a tournament, its was Street Fighter IV and I had unlocked every character, so I decided to make it a boys vs girls tournament (in the first round at least) and say that people can only pick one character and once they had that character is gone from the list. This was a bad idea, as too many people meant I found it hard to get people to come and play and keep it going through lunches (a particular problem in call centres). So keep the tournament places small, with 12 being the absolute maximum for a decent running game.
4 - Open registration well in advance
Give it at least a few days before the tournament so that people can get thier names down and make sure they are actually in on the day, and keep all involved up to date on any changes, the venue and game.
5 -Play yourself
Dont be afraid to put your own name down, as alot of people, especially work friends, will want to take you on. This is mostly so when you walk around they can take the mick, but hey it works, and ifyou trounce them then you can do it instead, which lets be honest, is always a good thing.
6 -Dont make people look daft
Unless they are drunk, which I hope they arent if they are at work, people will not play anything that makes them look stupid. So a singstar tournament, unless you work at a music label or something, is probably not the best plan as we are all aware (those of us who are over 18 at least) that karaoke is best done intoxicated to the eyeballs.
7 -Make sure you have all the right equipment
It may sound stupid, but you can't run a gaming tournament if you dont have a TV and a few spare power sockets, so make sure the venue (often a meeting room) has all the right gear. Oh and check the TV for sound play back, as thinking every TV has speakers built in has proven my downfall in the past.
8 -Make it fun
A bit of a no brainer, but if you can get some sort of prize for the winner, do so, and dont be afraid to trash talk, even if your not playing. Commentate, and after each match consider sending an email around the office announcing the winners and loosers (especially fun if a very manly man gets beat by a girl lol) and even update twitter as a laugh.
9 -Keep a list of participants handy
Again a no brainer, but also arrange into a tournament structure on a spreadsheet and print it, so that you can easily work out who isplaying who next. This will save you having to remember and be an easy reference for people who ask who they are playing. If its a fighting game your running, put down peoples characters too, so those who do know about the game can think about it in advance.
10 -Get the payment fee's early
Remember the tournament is for charity, so if you are charging an entry fee (£1/$1 is a good start point) collect it before the people play. This will mean you can concentrate on running the thing and not have to remember who has paid and who hasn't on the day.
So there you have it, my top ten hints on how to run a smooth tournament at work. Admittedly, most are provided by common sense, but some are lessons learnt the hard way. Thanks for reading, and I hope your tournaments go well. If you have any other tips. please let me know!