From the bar to the ice cream parlor: Hosting more inclusive professional meetups

CASE STUDY: Coffee and Ice Cream Socials

Event Description

There are plenty of game industry networking events, bar mixers, and drink nights out there, but we wanted to do something a little different — so instead, we started up the IGDA NYC Coffee and Ice Cream Socials.


As the event description indicates, we conceived the Coffee and Ice Cream Social events as a conscious alternative to the standard, ubiquitous bar mixer or drink night. We wanted to expand the audience to be more inclusive of people who typically wouldn’t be interested in or able to attend events held at a bar, including teenagers and underage students, parents of young children, and anyone who doesn’t like to drink or isn’t comfortable in an atmosphere where alcohol is consumed. We also made a point of explicitly broadcasting our intent to diversify, rolling out the welcome mat for people who may have already written off game industry mixers as “not their scene.”

Playtesting games at the ice cream social (long after the ice cream has already been eaten.)


Our socials are held on a predictable fixed schedule, the third Monday of every month. We set up a single recurring event on Eventbrite for the year, minimizing setup effort. We picked a Monday because the beginning of the week is much less cluttered with events, making conflicts less likely — and it’s a light, fun event to look forward to for an early-week pick-me-up. Our socials also start earlier than many of our other events, at 6:30 rather than 7 or 8, and officially run for two hours, so it’s not the kind of thing that’ll keep you out all night. The early start time is meant to appeal to people coming straight from the office, before (ruining?) dinner, or maybe even stopping home to pick up kids (and spouses!) to bring along without keeping them up past their bedtimes.


Our events are casual networking socials, and tend to be fairly loose and unstructured. One of the ideas we’ve considered but haven’t implemented yet is designating specific theme days, like “Family Day,” “Playtest Day,” or just a “Game Day” where people bring something to play. Theme days can be useful to draw out specific crowds and add a little variety to the events, but these activities all happen naturally to some degree without us organizing it from the top down.


Coffee and Ice Cream Socials can offer a low-key, safe, comfortable environment that expands the audience beyond the typical bar scene crowd, making your events more inclusive and diverse. They’re easy to host, with little to no cost and low organizational overhead. I hope this case study helps you start one up in your own community!



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