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Gaming has become the nation’s second favourite pastime, growing incredibly rapidly in the last decade, with 51.7% of people taking part in the hobby according to a recent survey from Currys. It only narrowly missed out on the top spot, which went to watching television at 55.7% – but gaming offers something TV can’t – it creates communities.
One such community that has risen to around 400 members over the last decade is Nintendo North Wales, a group based in Gwynedd, who do regular meet-ups, competitions and events, along with getting involved in tournaments across UK. The fan-run hub – part of the independent community Nintendo Players UK – was founded in 2012 by Anglesey-based pianist and podcaster Jen Griffiths.
The group have used gaming, specifically through Nintendo consoles such as the Nintendo Switch, to create a safe and welcoming space for all its members, regardless of age, though under 16s do need to be accompanied by an adult. They host regular meet-ups for around 20 people in Bangor, with numbers fluctuating throughout the year.
“Ten years ago, I had recently gotten married and, together with my new husband, I was searching for local people to play Mario Kart with,” recalled Jen, 36, who is also co-chair of Nintendo Players UK. Now the group offers national opportunities to take part in events, including attending the recent Nintendo Players UK’s National Mario Kart Finals event in Birmingham.
“I am so proud of how much Nintendo North Wales has achieved, and I’ve loved watching formerly shy individuals come out of their shells and gain confidence” said Jen. She had previously struggled with an anxiety disorder, but after overcoming much of it during lockdown and launching her memoirs in a book earlier this year, she is no longer afraid to hide that she is an adult gamer.
(Image: Jen Griffiths)
“Often, it’s assumed that gamers are quite isolated and keep to themselves, but for the last 10 years, Nintendo North Wales has opened up conversations and brought people together socially,”
“Nintendo North Wales has stayed strong through adversity, lockdown and the next generation of gamers passing through. Even when we couldn’t meet up in person due to pandemic restrictions, we stayed united online thanks to our love of gaming. It has been so rewarding to have been able to bring such a community to the local area.”
The group have also teamed-up with other groups, such as Cubby Events to arrange events for schools in Holyhead, along with prior collaborations with Retro Rewind in Llandudno.
Do you consider gaming to be one your favourite pastimes? Let us know in the comments.
Darren Roberts, a long-term member of the group said: “Nintendo North Wa…