Getting in a game

I’ve been gaming for a long time, since before I was in high school actually, and I’ve moved my way through more than a few groups. Friends have come and gone, as have schools, jobs, and cities, and through it all I have gamed. Others have not been so lucky. One of the most common emails I get as the organizer of a gaming club is people looking for groups. I see the same question echoed in the comments of game reviews and posted on aggregates like Reddit or Metafilter. It’s a shame that there are so many of us aiming for each other but always somehow missing. It’s for this very reason I started a group in my city. There were a hundred people all looking for a group but none of them talking to each other.

In a way, the difficulty in finding a group to play with is partly to do with the hobby. It isn’t that there aren’t a lot of us, but that we participate in a scorned hobby. We were demonized in the eighties, became a joke in the nineties, and only in the last decade with the advent of the MMO has role playing become more accepted. It’s hard to broadcast that you are a role-player when so many people will dismiss it or worse. Adding to the problem is that by nature of the game we are divided into cliques. We game with our high school friends that we started out with, move on to college and then suddenly everyone goes their separate ways and nobody is left to game with. That’s where I come in. I’m going to give you the tools that you need to find a group to play with. No matter where you are there is somebody nearby that’s also looking to kick in the door and stab an orc or two.  

Inquire at Your Local Hobby Shop:

Chances are that if you live in even a small city that you have a local hobby shop. Even if you don’t have a specialized hobby store I’m willing to bet that there is a nearby comic shop. Take the time to drop by. Most hobby stores are active in the community and may know, or keep a list, of groups looking for players. Some stores also have a forum so be sure to check out their website. A great deal of hobby stores also have a drop in role-playing night or rent out a room during the evenings. Even if they don’t do these things you can bet that they know of any local events, which leads me to my next point.

Attend Events:

If you have a convention center or university in your town then there is a good chance that there is a gaming or comic convention at least once a year. The comic shops will know if there is, but a quick google search using the keywords “gaming”, “convention”, and “city” will bring it up. You could also check the Warhorn website. Many events are organized or advertised through there.

Go to an event. Spend the $20 and mingle with your peers. Sign up for an organized game while you’re there and make it known you are looking for a regular group. Chat with the local vendors and just have a good time. The other great thing about conventions is that they are organized and managed by someone. Find out who they are. If it is a gaming centric convention then there is almost always a gaming club or similar organization that arranged everything.

Local Clubs:

Gaming clubs aren’t the most common thing in the world, but if there is a university nearby then you probably have one. Drop by the university and ask around. You don’t usually have to be a student to join. Also check out the excellent Meetup website. Not only will it tell you if there are any nearby groups, but it will also tell you if there are people in your area that are also looking for an RPG group. This way you can join an existing group or stat your own if there is demand. Hobby stores, of course, will usually know if there are clubs in town and an Internet search of your “city name” and “rpg club” might bring up results. Don’t forget to check out your local Facebook groups as well, you might get lucky.

Organized Play:

You might not be aware of it but a lot of the major RPG publishers run “official” campaigns. These are called Living Campaigns and are a great way to find a regular game or just get your role playing fix from time to time. Paizo has the Pathfinder Society and WotC controls the venerable RPGA. Sign up on the website and look for events posted in your area. Sign on as a GM and advertise your own event or just check the registry for local players.

Player Registries:

I’ve already mentioned Meetup and Facebook as possible places to find gamers. There are actually other more specialized tools out there. Nearbygamers shows you exactly that and has a free registry service that shows you local gamers and also integrates with other sites like Obsidian Portal. While you’re on the Internet check out your favorite RPG company’s website and see if they have a player registry service.  The relatively new Wizards Play Network is a perfect example. Don’t forget about good old fashioned wanted ads. Craigslist may have become a bit of a cesspit, but it never hurts to try. Registries aren’t as active as Meetup or Facebook, but the more places you try the more likely you are to find something.

Ask Your Friends:

You’d be surprised at just how diverse the ROG crowd really is. Swallow your pride and bring it up with people you know. You might already know someone who games or maybe somebody will be interested in giving it a try. Don’t be ashamed of your hobby and don’t let social anxiety get the best of you. If you aren’t that brave you can always try reading your favorite RPG book on the bus.

Play Online:

Even if you can’t find someone nearby you can still play online. Great applications like RPtools and Fantasy Grounds have large online communities filled with people looking for digital players. You should be able to find a group on their forums with little difficulty. Heck, you might roll a twenty and meet a local.

Be Proactive:

There are numerous ways to find people to play with, but you won’t find a single person if you don’t work at it. You aren’t going to find a group by signing up at a few registries, posting one wanted ad, and waiting for that invite to show up. That’s what everybody else is doing. If you want to find a game you need to make some noise and let people know that you are looking for them. If you do you will find a group. Remember, you aren’t alone.

All groups split up eventually and those gamers have to go somewhere. They are out there, and they are looking for you.

[tags]how-to, irl, role playing games[/tags]

6 thoughts on “Getting in a game

Add yours

  1. Dan, that’s good stuff. I had great success with a variation on the ‘Ask Your Friends’ advice you gave; I asked my family members, and I was surprised at the response. When everyone can make it, I now run a game with 7 players. Try it, it can work.


  2. Thanks Rolling20s. I’m often surprised at who will give it a try. I’ve had more success starting people on games other than D&D though. A lot of people will just have a knee-jerk reaction to it.


  3. @Michael: Meetup is one of the best ways to find groups. I actually mentioned it under the “Local Clubs” section. I’ve met a good 30 or 40 role players through it.


  4. The local club thing is especially true. In Japan, the JIGG is the place to go for games and I see at a call for players on the forums and mailing list at least once a month.


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