Nintendo Players UK – A Decade Of The UK’s Biggest Nintendo Fan Community

Image: Nintendo Basildon

Over the holiday season, we’re republishing select articles from Nintendo Life writers and contributors as part of our Best of 2023 series. Enjoy!

In the gaming industry, Nintendo sets itself apart not just with the quality of its games and its evergreen catalogue of classic characters, but also a focus on community. Whether through software that brings people of all ages together, hardware features like StreetPass, or the local multiplayer functionality baked into every single Switch console, Nintendo is particularly great at firing up positivity for gaming and giving like-minded fans cause to get together to play and celebrate the games they love. It’s why we’re here writing about them, and why you’re here reading about them. Various Nintendo-focused communities have formed around the world over the years and in the United Kingdom, Nintendo Players UK is the largest.

Joining Together for Fun

An independent ‘umbrella’ network of Nintendo fans, NPUK organises physical meetups for gamers in the UK and Ireland and is made up of 29 individual regional communities. Jen Griffiths, part of the NPUK committee, shares its ethos is simple: to provide free, family-friendly events in person that are inclusive for Nintendo fans to meet and play games together. She highlights that the beauty of Nintendo Players UK is that every group has its unique identity, aiming for monthly or even weekly events. Their passion for Nintendo and community shines through in everything they do.

While NPUK serves as an umbrella for all Nintendo fan groups, Jen believes that one of its strengths is the diversity of each member group. “The beauty of Nintendo Players UK is that everyone’s group comes together for the same ethos and ideals, but every group has their own identity,” she continues. “Some groups are more sporadic than others, but the most active groups tend to aim for monthly events, and some are even weekly.”

The events organized under the NPUK banner range from smaller regional meetings to larger multi-group blowouts all over the UK. Not only do they regularly play popular Nintendo games like Mario Karts, Smashes, Pokémons, and Splatoons, but they also often see lesser-known, smaller games being played at these events.

Encouraged by the popularity explosion of the Switch and 3DS’s local multiplayer focus, NPUK has seen an increase in family settings and younger generations joining their community. They’ve also been able to keep the magic of StreetPass alive for 3DS owners.

It goes without saying that the past few years have presented significant obstacles to in-person meet-ups for Nintendo fans and everyone else. However, after Covid times forcing everything online, the NPUK committee couldn’t wait to get back to doing what they love—organizing in-person, inclusive events.

Bringing People Together

Making connections in groups like these also has potential benefits that go beyond a mere boost in the social skills department. “Once-lonely people are able to find their kindred spirits, and for the organisers of events, it’s also a great boost for your CV and job prospects.”

As a nationwide hub, one of the great things about the network is how widespread it is — 29 regional groups and counting. NPUK ties local gaming communities together into a larger whole. Jen encourages finding local communities and getting involved.

There are 10th-anniversary celebration plans in the works for the summer. Stay tuned!

Many thanks to Jen for speaking with us. Let us know below if you’re part of one of NPUK’s regional groups! And if you’re interested in finding a friendly Nintendo-focused community near you, head to the Nintendo Players UK website and take a look at upcoming events in your area.