Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nobody's ever done me any (gaming) favors

Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I had to beg, cajole, threaten, bully, strongarm, entice and plead with my friends to get them even remotely interested in gaming. Every step of the way, I was on my own. No one did me any favors; I never had a big brother or older friend to introduce me to a particular game. If anything, I had to push back against the more traditional hobbies that my buddies were involved in—sports, dating, video games, music, etc.

So it was up to me to purchase all the gear required (using my meager high school wages), sketch out the adventures and settings, walk everyone through character generation—and then struggle to hold the group together through a series of adventures.

This process repeated itself for card games, miniature wargames and everything in between. I was always the first to come to a particular game line or hobby, and it was up to me to serve as the jolly ambassador, luring my buddies in with assurances that this new game would be better than the last. Only in college did I meet like-minded people, and I was more than happy to pass the cheerleader baton off to the new friends I made there.

In just the last few months, at the ripe age of 27, this process has been repeated yet again, as I've delved into WWII tabletop miniature gaming.

Because of this tireless passion, I have become the consummate gaming marketeer. It's no coincidence that I worked in gaming retail during college and loved every minute of it. I helped organize and run games, but my favorite part of the job was talking to newcomers, folks who had never set foot inside a dedicated game store and, at most, brought in memories of playing Talisman or OD&D from years past. I loved those folks, because they were primed and ready to be re-introduced to the best part of modern gaming.

If and when I ever run a con game, it will be the most badass game ever, because I know how to read players in just a few minutes—and then tailor the game experience to exceed the diverse expectations they bring to the table.

It's also clear, upon reading this post so far, that I'm pretty good at complimenting myself. Ha! But really, the point of this post was to point out that successful games and the perpetuity of our hobby can really come down to just one person, or a handful of dedicated folks. Gamers who lack groups shouldn't lose hope; rather, they should always seek to broaden their horizons
and keep moving forward. The next player could come from anywhere.


Kevin Mac said...

I didn't have much trouble with this as a teen. Not only did a hang out at a game shop for years as a kid, but a lot of my geekier friends were gaming. As I got into jr. high and then high school, I got involved in sports, girls, surfing, etc. - but was always able to find players. In my late 20's up until now, I was able to get players who didn't generally game (they maybe had done it in the distant past), so I was almost always the GM, and had to get most of the materials. I was always jazzed those rare times I got my adult players to come to a game shop with me and search for just the right figure for then. Still, I usually had to paint them.

But yeah, I never got many favors either. Since my early 30's I have only ever had a game group because I tried hard to get one and keep it together. If these people weren't gaming with me, then they weren't gaming at all. They owe me!

Patrick W. Rollens said...

@Brunomac: That's great that you were able to find like-minded folks at every stage in your life. There's always someone in the group who serves as the glue that keeps everyone together. Thankfully I don't have to play that role all by myself now (thanks to the great dudes I game with), but for a long time it was just me.