I first played Dungeons and Dragons when I was 13, but my appreciation for the hobby really developed when I was in high school. My high school had a science fiction and fantasy club, which I was a member of for all four years, and president my senior year. Though the intent of the club was originally as a place for students to share their interests in books and movies, it eventually turned into my own recruitment pool for role playing games.
My favorite memories from high school were the days I’d come in to a club meeting with all of my Cyberpunk 2020 books, 20 photocopied character sheets, and a spiral-bound graph paper notebook, and set up a table after our club meeting. Anyone who wanted to could come up and make a character. Of course, this was never a productive way to play a game, but that wasn’t entirely the point. Lots of people were interested in this game, and some days I’d have ten to twelve people sitting around, puzzling over the character sheets and asking me questions. I think, over the two years that I did this consistently, I played maybe two full sessions. But that was OK.
Having that forum to teach people about role playing games was a great benefit to me, because no matter what setting or situation I’m in, I end up teaching people to play games if I want to play myself. Having an interest in games like Cyberpunk 2020 and GURPS means that, at best, I’ll walk into a room of people who know how to play D&D. If I’m not interested in playing D&D, I’ll have to teach people a new system. And thanks to my experiences in high school, I know how to do that.
Gamers are a closed-off group in some ways, though many of the stereotypes that used to surround Dungeons and Dragons and games of its ilk are beginning to lift. This is a perfect time to expose others to the hobby. At the very least, you’ll give someone a better understanding of the hobby. At best, you may have a new addition for your gaming group.
Recently “Read an RPG Book in Public Week” ended, and I think this is a great event for trying to bring tabletop gaming into the public eye. In my opinion though, there is more to be done. More people have to be given opportunities to learn how to play, and explore the hobby. And it’s current gamers who will do this.
In Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Library in Oakland has held D&D games in the past as part of their teen department event series. Events like this are a great way to introduce people to role playing games, and give people the sort of opportunities to play that I had in high school. If your local library has events and lectures, ask about volunteering to run a game day. It’s both a great way to introduce people to the hobby, and a way to give back to the community as a whole. And this is by no means the only way to do it: we’re a creative bunch, and I’m sure that people can come up with many great ideas that I haven’t.
Read an RPG Book in Public Week ended on March 6th. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only time of the year to bring the hobby out in the open, and show others how engaging and how much fun it can be.
[tags]Role Playing Games[/tags]