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Putting Together A Gaming Group
Role-playing Games (RPGs) are a group activity, so if you've decided to give role-playing a try, the first thing you're going to need to do is find some people who are also interested in gaming. While it's possible to run a game with just two people (one player and one Game Master (GM)), most gamers prefer slightly larger groups. I personally like to have at least 3 players (plus a GM) for most games. The upper limit for group size depends a lot on the game and the abilities of the GM. The larger the group, the longer it will take to get through each scene, especially for games with complex rules systems. Also, large groups mean that each player gets a smaller slice of "screen time" (scenes where his or her character is in the spotlight), which translates to less intensive role-playing and character development. For most RPGs, things will begin to get bogged down somewhere in the six to eight player range.
If you already know some gamers, putting a gaming group together isn't too difficult. Just put the word out and you'll probably find a few people who are interested. If you're new to gaming (or new to the area), you'll have to work a little harder. Here are a few good places to start:
- Local Game Stores
- Gaming Organizations
- The Internet
Since you already know and (hopefully) like your friends, it makes sense to ask if they want to try out role-playing. Unfortunately, this is not always an easy sell. While a lot of people are familiar with the concept of role-playing, most people who haven't tried it don't really understand exactly how it works. This, combined with the nerd stigma associated with the hobby, makes the uninitiated more reluctant to try role-playing than, say, a board or card game. Still, if your friends are open-minded or geeky enough, you might be able to convince them to give the hobby a try.
Local Game Stores
Most brick-and-mortar game stores have a place where gamers can post notices that they're looking for a game. Many stores also host gaming groups, company demos, and game days. Attending these events is a good way to meet other local gamers. Last but not least, the store's employees probably have a good idea of what's going on in the local gaming community. It never hurts to ask them if they know any groups looking for new players or players looking for a game.
Most decent-sized cities and nearly all college towns are home to one or more game clubs. In all likelihood, one of the employees at your friendly local game shop can put you into contact with such a group. In addition to local groups, there are a few national organizations who have local chapters all over the country. Some of these are based around a particular game or company. For example, the Camarilla is for players of the World of Darkness line of RPGs by White Wolf Studios. Others, like the Organization of Gamers and Role-Playing Enthusiasts (O.G.R.E.s), play and promote all types of games.
If there's a gaming convention in your area, there will definitely be plenty of local gamers attending. Even if you don't find any players, cons are a good place to meet writers, artists, and other representatives from your favorite game company and try out games you've never played before. If you're not sure whether there are any conventions in your area, ask the folks at your local game store.
You can find just about anything on the internet, and that includes fellow gamers. If you already know what game you want to play, most company websites offer player locators or forum sections where people can let others know that they're looking to start or join a game. Some general gaming sites, RPGnet, have similar tools or forum sections and there's an active /rpg sub on Reddit. If you can't find gamers to play in person, there's always the option of playing over the internet in play-by-post games or using chat clients, Skype, Google Hangouts, or similar technologies.
Once you've found some people to play with, you'll need a place to play. Most games take place at a group member's house or the local game store, but some groups meet at public libraries, schools, or businesses like restaurants and coffee shops. As long as you have permission to be there, don't bother anyone else (especially other customers, in the case of a business), and can play with relatively few distractions, any place with a table and a few chairs will work. You'll also need to decide when and how often you're going to play the game. Some groups play for a few hours every week, others play longer games less frequently. It ultimately depends on the preferences and availability of the people in the gaming group. The last thing you'll need to do in order to get started is decide what game you're going to play, but that's a topic for another hub.
© 2010 Steve Johnson