This is a text aimed at those of you who are parents of or otherwise related to children and youths who are active in clubs associated to Sverok and the gaming hobby. The goal is to present a thorough explanation of what this engagement means to these youths, what rules apply and what opportunities there are.
Sverok is an umbrella organization that gathers a big portion of the Swedish gaming hobby – and with more than 120 000 members in more than 950 clubs all over the country, it is the largest youth organization in Sweden. Activities include roleplaying games, board games, miniature games, LARPs, collectible card games, LAN parties, airsoft, paintball and more. Note that no activities that involve gambling are accepted in Sverok.
The individual clubs are largely autonomous and highly diverse, and anybody may join one –or start one of their own together with fellow gamers. These clubs arrange their own happenings, activities and events with support from Sverok, including financial aid, web services, experience exchanges, marketing, insurance and a great network of contacts.
Like many other youth organizations in Sweden, Sverok is mainly funded by the Swedish government. As such it strives for accessibility, easy participation and an open, democratic process. The purpose of this support is to give young people the opportunity to be involved in their hobbies on their own terms, and to support a democratic development in all areas of life.
Benefits of joining a club
Youths who join and get involved in a club or club project have a lot to gain, since this is an amazing school in many areas. To practice co-working, co-operating and democratic principles at an early age provides a good foundation for situations where agreement with others is paramount. With extra commitment comes responsibility for the experiences of one own as well as one’s friends, perhaps as a club board member, project leader or the like.
To get a feeling for responsibility from early on strengthens the individual and creates an awareness regarding action and consequence. Leadership, organization, economy and other important subjects follow automatically upon the involvement in a non-profit club. The sense of community and to manage things on one’s own are unbeatable factors in youths when it comes to enhance confidence and bring healthy experiences.
Apart from the open community that comes with playing games, there are many learning- and development processes connected to the actual gameplay. Regardless of what game is played, creativity and co-operation skills are put to the test and are also enhanced by experiences from earlier wins or losses. Exchanging knowledge with other participants of varying backgrounds is another great source of development. In all game genres, learning aspects like dealing with defeat as well as success, planning ahead and maintaining focus for extended periods of time are naturally included in the hobby. These are all things that can prove very challenging in the everyday life of a child.
Within the different game genres there are also more specific areas that bring theoretical, practical or social skills to the participants. Since the youths often do all the planning before and concluding work after an event, there are also opportunities for gathering knowledge outside the actual activity as well.
As within other hobbies, there are costs associated with membership and playing in the gaming clubs. However, there are big differences in sums compared to sports, partly because the youths themselves run the clubs on low funding and partly because the participants create much of their gear on their own. Membership in a gaming club is often free or has a standard fee of 50 SEK a year. Compared to soccer or dance (that cost around 1000 SEK per semester) it is thus a rather small cost to practice one’s hobby. To compare the costs of equipment for gaming (anything from LARP costumes to boxes for holding collectible cards) with for example hockey or horse riding presents the same result; the gaming hobby is very cheap in this context. The clubs usually choose to buy games or gear for members to use, which is a large asset both for beginners and regular practitioners.
Here are some inspirational tips on how to get more information about the hobby of your child:
- Play with your child! There is no better information than the one received firsthandedly, through one’s own experience. Dare to ask and take part of your childrens’ interests, something they are bound to appreciate a lot. Many children do not think that their parents are interested in what they are doing, which makes them hesitant in sharing experiences and information on the topic.
- Drive and/or pick up your child to and from friends, the club or the events. That gives you a chance to talk about the hobby while also giving you firsthand knowledge of where they spend time and what the place looks like, as well as what other people are present. This is another way to show an interest in the engagements of your child.
- Talk to other parents. The questions and concerns you have will definitely be present with the parents of other children as well. Together you can spread information and knowledge amongst yourselves or reach suitable solutions to avoid situations you are uncomfortable with (for example making a driving schedule to and from activities, a phone list, or why not try to get together and play with the children at the same time, all of you?).
- Read more about what the different game genres entail on each game page. The links can be found partway down on the English main page.
- Contact Sverok’s office if you have further questions about the club phenomenon, the gaming hobby or other aspects connected to your child’s engagements. Contact information can be found on the English main page.