Apr 042012
 

Some old computers! Taken by Flickr user eurleif. Thanks! CC BY-SA 2.0

Undoubtedly, the advancement of technology in the past decade has done wonders for the gaming community. D&D Insider and its suite of tools have likely changed the way that millions of players create characters, design encounters and dungeons, and develop worlds.

But I’m not here to talk about the wonders of technology, though I probably would be nowhere near as experienced or seasoned if not for the ubiquity of PDF formats of the books that I use (for the record, I’ve been a good boy and bought hardcopy versions of the material I may or may not have pirated at one point…) What I do want to talk about is the accessibility of games, in particular the accessibility of gaming groups.

I don’t need to go into a length diatribe about how roleplaying is, essentially, a social game. Since pretty much every aspect of the game is created by the GM or one of the players, there is an imperative to find more players in order to add depth and breadth to the game. This is not to say that a game cannot be successful with only two players (or maybe even one, though I would call that less of a “game” and more of an “imagination”), but I will say that there’s a reason that games tend to be played in groups – it’s more fun that way.

Unfortunately, not all of us have access to groups. I’ve been very fortunate in my gaming life that, since high school, I have been surrounded by people who either are hardcore gamers or at least have an honest desire to become hardcore gamers. Not all of us are that lucky, and there have been times when I’ve craved more gaming than I’ve been able to get locally.

I’m by no means an expert, but I have run and played in a number of games that have unfolded completely in the online environment. Below I’ll share some resources for finding, running, and playing in a game even if you don’t have access to a local group.

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About Nick

Nick is an inquisitive type, never satisfied with what he reads in a book.

Jun 082010
 

Before I begin this article, I have to give credit to my brother, who I stole the idea from.  Certainly he’s not the first to use social networking in this way, but he is the one who showed me.

In the past I would often try to keep my players up to date on my game sessions with e-mail.  Just a quick note to let everyone know, “game is on this Friday” or “sorry guys, I need to cancel”.  Eventually this evolved into a good way for players to ask me questions.  I could work out some character background information, clarify rules, etc.  It was just a little later on, still early in my gaming career, that a friend running a LARP introduced me to Yahoo! Groups.  He had too many players and needed a good way to get both in character and out of character information to the lot of them.

Yahoo! Groups provided a way to upload pictures, post stories, recaps, whatever a GM might need to do, but the format was always a little clunky.  Posts, threads, and e-mails were cluttered and often delayed publishing for several hours after submitted.  But the biggest problem was that the users had to go to a site they otherwise never use.  I had plenty of players who never visited some of my game Groups because they just didn’t take the time to visit websites outside of their normal routine, even though they showed up to each play session on a weekly basis.

Plays by Post games suffer these issues as well.  Though both can have e-mail notifications of posts, those updates hardly offer the same quality of experience as the actual site.  Days stretch on and on between posts because players just never happen to check the site.  It can kill a scene or totally ruin a campaign.

Enter Facebook. Alright, it kills me to promote anything relating to this soul drinking succubus of a website that has no concern or compassion for its user base, but odds are you use it anyways.  Inspired by my younger brother, I recently started a Play by Post game on Facebook, which has been fantastically successful so far.  I think the reason the game has done so well is painfully obvious, Facebook sucks you in.  You already check a few times a week, maybe every day, maybe several hundred times a day.  You already waste so much time on the site playing Mafiafarmvampireorgyville.  Now, if you see that there’s an update on your campaign, why wouldn’t you just click it and take a look?

This is only my first time using Facebook as a vehicle for Play by Post, but it has everything I need so far.

  • By creating a new group on Facebook, I can make it private or open it up to spectators if I so choose.
  • The Discussion threads are great for actual gameplay and side scenes/conversations.
  • The Photos section allows me to upload maps, PC or NPC portraits, monster art, item “cards”, etc.
  • I have a quick way to get in touch with everyone in the group by simply posting to the main page or sending a Facebook private message.
  • Posts go up immediately when I submit them, and responses notify me just as quick when they go up.  Get a group of people as addicted as I am and you’d almost have a real time game.
  • I can create a growing list to track locations or NPCs the party has encountered.  Both for my benefit and to keep the players aware of who they know and where they are.
  • Facebook Groups feature a recognizable and easy to read layout.  Almost all of my players are in other groups for their various interests, so there is nothing new to teach.

Afterword

I plan to start a new tabletop campaign soon and I absolutely intend to create a Facebook page for that game as well.  I still think that if you haven’t already been consumed by the Facebook beast, you should probably stay away while you yet remain pure.  However, if already you are forced to toil hour after hour reading your friend’s bad jokes and inappropriate updates on their love life, why not get some gaming done?

[tag]Facebook, Play by Post, RPG, role playing, games[/tag]

About Nick Nundahl

I'm a wild haired demi-viking living on the East Coast United States. I've run games in countless systems and tanked more game nights than I've ever run successfully, but hopefully I learned a lot in the process and I'd like to pass that on. Follow me on Twitter.