Teaching RPGs to Corporate Co-workers

So I had a pretty awesome opportunity last week, and I’ve been trying to decide just how to share it.

For the past 8 months or so, I’ve been in a program at work designed to help corporate environment folks become… better corporate environment folks.

We take classes on topics like communication, innovation, and most importantly for this post, presentation.  Wednesday and Thursday we had a guest come in and educate us on public speaking, at the end of which everyone was required to give a short (10 minute) presentation to the class that put to use some of the skills we had learned.  Things like, “When presenting, don’t talk to your notes”, or the ever repeated, oft forgotten, “Make good eye contact”.  The list goes on.

The thing about this was that was were told to make a presentation on literally anything we wanted to (within reasonable limits).  We were not rated on content but on presentation, so the door was pretty open.

I struggled.  I’m in Information Technology, talking to nerds about gaming would be one thing, but these are people from all over a very well known organization in a class that actually requires a fair amount of effort to get into, it isn’t something to take lightly.  But I had a message I wanted to share.

I wanted to break stereotypes and bring information to those who might otherwise never know about tabletop role playing games.  Far too often we shelter our hobby away as some dark secret, never letting anyone know what we do with our nerdiest friends on the weekends.  The problem is that if we don’t share the hobby, then it will never grow.  So I shared.  I opened up to a room of 25 or so of my corporate co-workers.  I told them the basics about gaming, I broke myths about devil worship, I told them how passionate I was, I discussed the benefits of gaming for creativity, communication, and problem solving.  The room was locked in interest.  I found out that some, about 3 or 4, had played before.  Others had children who play, but never really knew anything about their son or daughter’s hobby.  But what surprised me the most was that I found an incredible interest throughout the room.  Everyone had questions and was genuinely intrigued by the concept.  I used props; they loved playing with dice and little figures I set out on the tables during my speech.  They had questions on how you could play a game that was cooperative, not competitive and asked how they can start, where they can go to get materials, what kinds of stories can be told, and so many more.

In short, I was amazed, and then something really cool happened.  I offered to run a game, I told the room that if any of them want to try it, I’m more than happy to bring them into one of my games or even run a game of just our own employees at the office some night.  In the hallway on a brief break, I was approached by two guys immediately, they wanted in right away.  Shortly thereafter a third and potential fourth.  Of this group, three of them have never played any pen and paper games, they don’t even understand the concept really, but they know that it sounds fun.  So, if everything goes well,  in a couple weeks I’ve got a one-shot getting started in one of the conferences rooms right after I get off, and I can’t wait.

It really is funny how we can become so afraid of judgment that we stow away something so downright cool when you give it a chance.  I can’t encourage everyone to do exactly this, obviously you have to know your audience and make the timing right, but I challenge those who haven’t spread the word yet, to bring someone else into the hobby.  Both the Play in Public and Read and RPG Book in Public Week campaigns are helping with these very concepts, and I think that’s a great way to start.  But really, if we want this hobby to thrive we need to make ourselves visible.  I know that can be difficult, but my attempt turned out pretty well.

Corporate Gaming

[tags]Gaming, Teaching, Role Playing, rpg[/tags]

15 thoughts on “Teaching RPGs to Corporate Co-workers

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  1. This is definitely a break through! I bet there are a ton of people who used to play back in the “golden days” of their youth or were too “cool” to be caught playing but secretly wanted too. It’s amazing that as adults we can let our guards down a bit and have a little more fun 🙂


  2. Way to go! There was an episode of The IT Crowd eerily similar to this. Are you sure the writers aren’t secretly monitoring your life and using it as fodder for the show?


  3. Congrats! I hope you all have fun on Wednesday. What game will you be playing? Are you taking advantage of the “this is for introductory purposes” Red Box or … what?


  4. I have had similar, though less dramatic experiences. Lately I decided to start wearing my favorite hobby on my sleeve, doing things like mentioning it when it comes up naturally in conversation and so forth. Over the past year, I have found 4 people on separate occasions who had played before in college or when they were young, but hadn’t in years. So I invited them to a game, and every single one has now joined my regular Savage Worlds game. One of them bought Pathfinder and started his own group before moving to another country and starting yet another group. Another guy bought 4e and made characters with his sons. I will say, though, when they suddenly outed themselves as avid rpg’ers it made their wives shake their heads in mild dismay.


  5. Great article and awesome story, Nick. Given that we talk about RPGs here, it’s good that we’re putting our money where our moths are, so to speak, and talking about them in our offline lives as well. In fact, I’ve got a speech I have to give for one of my classes, and I’m thinking I’m going to give a demonstration about how to create a Deadlands character using the card system.


  6. That’s awesome, Bif. That’s the idea, it doesn’t have to be in a place like work, but just not being embarassed by our hobby can go a long away. We have this really cool thing, we shouldn’t decide that others won’t like it and let that control us.


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