The role of repetition in community

May 24, 2024

A few months ago I was at the GAMA trade show and talking with a couple friends about designing Organized Play (OP) systems for card games. That got me thinking about one of the least discussed aspects of a successful program – repetition and predictability. 


It’s almost impossible to build community if the people in the community – the players in this case – can’t predict what will happen. We have to build predictability into our programs. One way to do this is through repetition.   


Two of the most successful OP programs are Magic prerelease events and Friday Night Magic (FNM). These two types of events are dissimilar in many ways but a thing they have in common is they are rhythmic and predictable. It’s not just that everyone knows when they will happen, the appeal of repetition is much deeper than that.


Rhythm meets deep psychological needs we all have. It meets needs for safety and creates feelings of belonging. Repetition creates a sense of unity and cohesion. It allows us to build norms and define and understand our roles.  


Rhythm builds a community. 

How to apply this: when you are designing an OP program or holding events in your store hold it at the same time and same day. Your event can be once every 6 months or your event can be weekly, but it has to be predictable to your players.  And once you commit, stick to it. Your community will thank you.