Social planning

Nerds, hobbyists, gamers. Whatever you call them, they’ve carved out an ever-growing niche of game nights and meet ups in the Boston area. If you find yourself wanting to get involved but don’t know how, try to start gradually. Like “Frogger,” the life of a Boston game enthusiast involves progressing through certain levels. In other words, you can’t just wander into an advanced game of “Settlers of Catan.” You just can’t. So follow the steps and you’ll be well on your way to rescuing Zelda.

If you’re just testing the waters of the life of a gamer, low-key game nights are a great way to start out.

Game Over is a weekly event that will ease you into things with N64’s “Super Smash Brothers,” board games, and all of your old favorites — all in the comfort of a bar (so you can still be connected to broader civilization). Previously held on Tuesday nights at Tommy Doyle’s in Cambridge, Game Over is in the process of moving to a new location in Kendall Square.

You’re ready to be beamed up to the next level of fantasy play. Card games require skilled and cunning analysis, dedication to cultivating an impressive collection, and the ability to keep cool during heated battles.

Test your “mana” (the magical energy that powers spells, duh!) at one of Boston’s many Magic the Gathering events (Magic the Gathering gatherings?). Pandemonium Books and Games in Cambridge offers meetups almost every day of the week, each with different levels and entry prices, and Comicazi in Somerville hosts games on Sundays from 1-4 p.m. It costs $1 to play and you could win prizes, and maybe get one step closer to acquiring your own Alpha Black Lotus card.

Revel in your late ’90s/early ’00s heyday at Pokemon Saturdays, also at Comicazi. Running on Saturdays from 2-5 p.m., a $1 buy-in gives your Charizard a chance to rage attack its opponents all afternoon.

Bronies are bros obsessed with “My Little Pony” (there’s a documentary about them on Netflix.) But bro or not, this Saturday from 1-6 p.m. for $5 you can play your “My Little Pony” deck of cards against other colorful horse connoisseurs. Glitter not required, magical friendship mandatory.

Keep reading if you’re looking to take your newfound love of gaming to another realm. Because at this point, it’s not a game. It’s a lifestyle.

In role playing games (RPGs), you assume the role of a character in a fantasy world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make real-life friends at these local games, or even find the Misty to your Ash Ketchum. Pandemonium holds weekly meet-ups of popular RPGs, like Pathfinder Society from noon-6 p.m. on Sundays for $2 and ADVANCED Dungeons and Dragons on Tuesdays from 6-11 p.m. for free. Level 1 Gnome Bards need not apply.

Arisia, New England’s own science fiction and fantasy convention, descends on the Boston Waterfront next week from Jan. 17-20. This year’s esteemed guests include Tanya Huff, the author best known for her “Blood Books” series, Russian fantasy painter Lubov, and science fiction fan writer and theorist James Nicoll. The theme of this year’s convention is cross-culturalism, so get those elf ears and foam swords ready!

PAX East is a popular gamer convention in Boston each April. So popular, actually, that 2014 registration is already sold out. The event features concerts, tabletop battles (from “D&D” to “Bananagrams”), gaming consoles, interactive exhibits, and panel discussions with industry leaders. There’s something for everyone, and if you’re left without a ticket, I suggest bringing a lawn chair and watching the crowds enter in their amazing, creative, and sometimes terrifying cosplay.

For those whose love of gaming transcends hobby and crosses dangerously into obsession, you can compete in creating and designing your own games.

The Global Game Jam at the end of this month at Northeastern University’s new Digital Media Commons brings together aspiring game designers and developers. Teams and individuals compete to design new and innovative games, which are then judged by faculty members of the Playable Innovative Technologies (PLAIT) Lab. Your ideas could change the face of gaming forever.

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