Hiya, there! I hope you’re having a lovely day – and if not – I wish you one! I’m Saimons. I live in Valmiera (Latvia) and I am proud that I have spent all my life in this charming and green city. I’m a backend developer, and in five months, it will be three whole years since I started to work for Wunder. That will be a nice milestone.
Nowadays, it’s not a surprise that a large part of gamers decide to have a professional career in the IT industry because they’ve grown up with tech. As I’m also a part of this gaming world, I will tell you how I brought my gaming passion to the company level by organizing my very first gaming event.
My gaming passion
I have had a strong passion for gaming, ever since my dad allowed me to get the grip of a mouse and hit up some games. He even introduced me to Mu Online as my first game! I remember myself at an age between 9 and 13, vividly looking at a games magazine, seeing early Counter-Strike screenshots there, being amazed, and wishing I could play that.
Fast-forward to today – now I’ve played and finished a lot of computer games, and thanks to gaming, I’ve met a lot of great people (both online and face-to-face)! As I’ve played competitively – it has helped me to gain a much better reaction, and more relaxed time in socializing, as I was extremely shy earlier but never felt shy while gaming with random folks. It didn’t take long until those random people turned into my gaming buddies.
I’ve also chosen to stick with my one true nickname — Phonoman — for more than 13 years. It’s an awesome feeling when you randomly “meet” someone (meaning, when you are put in the same team or lobby of a new game) and you’ve been recognized from another game that you played together years ago, and hear those words: “Hey, are you the Phonoman from that game?” In other words – it’d be the same feeling as meeting your old class, school, or a camp buddy after a long time.
Wunderful time together
Ever since I joined Wunder, I loved the team-building events and after-work gatherings provided by the company. We were spending time together on things like orienteering, SUP boarding, slack-lining, and others. And at some point, I learned of this opportunity to create similar events on my own, without worrying about costs! How awesome is that!?
WunderTime* is one of Wunder’s superb ways to encourage us to gather and spend quality time together outside working hours. The only thing you need is a self-initiative to organize the activity and at least nine other Wunderers willing to join you. The company will take care of the expenses, as long as they are kept in a fixed budget.
We had used this great opportunity already to go hiking, scuba diving, Icelandic horse trail riding, going to the cinema, theatre and other activities. And as I enjoy these kinds of events, it didn’t take long for me to figure out what I’d like to suggest to my colleagues. Considering how much I enjoy gaming, it eventually led me to one thing… Games!
My very first Gamenight
My very first idea for an activity to do together with colleagues was to go and play paintball. I had once participated in one tournament-type of event and just loved it! It felt like I was put in the game I had already played for a long time except… in real life! But then it turned out that other folks in Wunder have not had an as spectacular experience with paintball as I did, so soon enough the idea was scratched.
Then one day, I heard people speaking of a LAN party and how cool it would be to have one in Wunder. Due to my passion, I supported the idea and also began asking others around if they would like to join. But as time passed, there were only people that kind of wanted to take part, but weren’t that excited about organizing. Knowing that this will not go through any other way, I took the initiative and began the planning of the Valmiera Gamenight #1. Miks — frontend developer at Wunder in Latvia who also loves gaming – contributed to the preparation and supported me throughout the whole process.
We started with brainstorming about games to play, room to use, room-table layouts to fit everyone in and snacks to buy. After feeling confident with basic necessities, the option to vote for the dates began. Even though the time was chosen and approved by all participants, there were a few cases when people, unfortunately, dropped off at the very last minute. But those cancellations didn’t stop us and we went through like champs! And it was so, so worth it! The evening and night were excellent, filled with laughter and joy, ideas, and support! We began at around 6 PM and continued up until 4 AM! Starting with Jackbox Party Games, and later playing mostly Counter-Strike and then a little of League of Legends, Minecraft, Warcraft 3, fighting games, and such.
Never say never — Gamenight #2
Immediately after the first Gamenight, I said that I won’t ever hold another gaming event. For someone like me, who had never organized an event from the beginning to the end, it was eye-opening to experience this rollercoaster of emotions and see how much those couple unfortunate no-shows affected my feelings.
However, seven months later, in a quiet evening after staring into the computer screen after work, it just hit me — “I want to make a Valmiera Gamenight #2!”. I know what I said before, but I don’t care. I want that amazing feeling of gathering and spending time together not as only colleagues but as a bunch of friends!” And so I did! This time I knew that there needed to be more food and fewer snacks. I already knew the games we can play. I was already excited and wanted it to happen ASAP! I wrote up the invite, people quickly gathered, and I knew it’s the time! I struck up a poll with the dates, and in a few days, the time for next Gamenight was settled!
This time we went from 10 to 15 participants, meaning we needed more space. No problem – our Valmiera office already had a pretty big “Gameroom” (although it has more physically active games like table football and tennis). We even specifically bought a switch for the event and split the costs between a few of us. We were super excited!
We had all that’s needed, and you know what? There was no more stress, no more worries for not having enough people. Thanks to the first event, I had insight into what to improve and what to expect. And I knew no matter what — we, a bunch of gamers or just people that like games, will find a way still to hold and enjoy this event!
And we did! The Valmiera Gamenight #2 was just as exceptional, and this time we went on from 6 PM to 6.30 AM (12+ hours!) People from all three Latvia offices (Valmiera, Rīga, Rēzekne) attended and proved that distance isn’t a problem! We began with Jackbox Party Games as last time and continued with Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Fortnite, Starcraft 2, Brawlhalla, fighting games, Stronghold, and others! Everything – food, amount of attendees, and their involvement, the duration of the event, game list, the venue – was way better than the first event, and I believe everyone got just a little closer.
My takeaways from organizing two Gamenights
- If you have a passion for something in your life and know that there are people with similar interests around you — don’t be shy, talk about it! If you wish to hang out more with your colleagues => just do it! It’s totally doable and can take way less time and planning than you actually think!
- The event doesn’t have to be super official – quite the opposite, the more relaxed it is, the freer the people will feel! And if people feel free, then little mishappenings or miscalculations will get quickly laughed off and forgotten or, even better, turned into activity. All you need for an event is a place, a real idea, enough of a plan to get people interested – invite them, offer them a couple of dates to choose from. Do this, and maybe you will be able to enjoy time together with others, not just as colleagues, but as well as friends!
- Also, a noteworthy fact — it really helps to have another like-minded person assisting you, too! They can either help you to decide between two options or simply tell you to stop worrying and that all is going to be okay.
- Remember that for various reasons in all events, there are always some no-shows. Don’t let it affect the plan too much (and your excitement)! You can still build another great memory of time spent together — with pure joy! And the good news – more snacks for those who do come 🙂
- Don’t get discouraged entirely after possibly having some of your ideas scratched (just like my paintball one) – keep digging, and I bet you can find an activity that is relatable by your colleagues.
This article does come out at a rather tricky time due to the extensive activity of COVID-19, where a lot of our socializing is limited. However, this limitation and lack of ability to see your colleagues daily might mean that it’s essential for you to organize something! You can, for example, host an online gaming event – a tournament in a specific game. Not enough people for a match? You can still play some party or team-based games to keep it casual. If you’re into board games instead – remove the tape from your camera, enable microphones to create a video call, and you can play a couple of games like that! Want something with more activities? No problem! Video call or record physical activities and challenge each other to do the same or better.
After experiencing two events to the bone, I can say, there definitely will be the third face-to-face Gamenight! And I hope that the interest in Gamenights rises and a couple of other colleagues join as well. But for the current situation, it is the time to put on your creativity pants and come up with ways to be together while staying safe! I prefer to spend this time with joy and laughter, and I hope you do too!
*Wunder operates in 3 countries, and the company has always tried to offer the best employee experience to each member while respecting and keeping local cultural and legal needs. So, in each Wunder country, we have multiple different ways to encourage people to exercise, take care of their health, and enjoy culture in their free time. One goal, different approaches from individual to group activities to cater to the various needs of our Wunderers.