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Author Topic: Creating the Gamer, not the game.  (Read 7781 times)
FilthySuperman
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« on: September 04, 2001, 10:15:00 AM »

This is the closest folder I could find for this.

Well it's happened. Here I am, years of gaming experience.. member of the elite "Forge" group of heavyweight discussors (is that a word?), creator of my own game (Any Town, U.S.A. - why haven't YOU checked it out?), and all around RPG afficianado... yet I don't have a gaming group. Having moved to this new area I'm pretty much stuck. Where I work, dead end. Where I live, dead end. Trying to find a group of face-to-face gamers on the internet is about as satisfying as a kick in the cheek-bone. (You try finding someone who isn't interested in ONLY ADnD) And I still haven't gotten into this whole PBeM or WebRPG thingy yet. So here's my question.. how do you create the gamer? How do you take your average drinking/football game watching/video game playing/whatever - buddy and convert him/her into a gamer. Don't get me wrong.. gaming isn't for everyone.. but I'm sure of all the people who've never played, a significant number of them would enjoy it if they did. The problem, to me, is this:

RPGS are for -

Nerds, geeks, dorks
people with no friends
people who don't appreciate a good game of Quake 3
people who read WAY too much
satanists
kids
-insert stereotype here-

So how do you create the gamer?
How do you clear away the stereotypes, and what game/s do you start them on? I'm not talking about "Which is the easy system to learn" Because as a GM I can make any system tailored down to the player. I'm talking about.. how would you suggest casting the line and sinking the hook.

Cause.. I don't have anyone to pway wif!

T.

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Zak Arntson
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« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2001, 10:17:00 AM »

Quote

So how do you create the gamer?
How do you clear away the stereotypes, and what game/s do you start them on? I'm not talking about "Which is the easy system to learn" Because as a GM I can make any system tailored down to the player. I'm talking about.. how would you suggest casting the line and sinking the hook.


Okay, here's how I'm going about it ... non-gamer friends. Get them to try it out. But make sure it's a good experience. I'm grabbing an artist non-gamer friend for our experimental rpg sessions. We're going to probably play Elfs and maybe some other freeform something. I figure he's the kind of guy to have the most fun with a funny improv type game.

Actually, I've played Paranoia with non-gamers and that worked really well, too. Maybe a light-hearted funny game is the best way to get non-gamers?

Oh, and assure them that you're not going to play something geeky (unless that's what they want). When I say "Dungeons & Dragons" people get leery. But when I say, "Hey you want to come over and play this game with some friends?" and then describe that particular game ...

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FilthySuperman
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« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2001, 10:35:00 AM »

I can definately see (and appreciate your points) [Zak]


(as an aside, I've posted like 50 times or something and haven't figured out how to do anything with the text.. ie: centering quotes, text color, etc. Is it HTML tags? or what?)

I also avoid the whole Dungeons and Dragons term when speaking about gaming to non-gamers. Inevitably it gets brought up though.

"Hey you ever play any RPGS?"

-"Nah.. I'm not big on final fantasy and stuff, I'm more into Madden"

"No, not video games, like pen and paper RPGs"

-"ooohh.. uhh.. you mean those dungeons and dragons things.. no. Hey man I gotta go"


What I'm more looking for.. and I guess I'm about as good at articulating as I am at brain surgery.. is a good way to approach the subject. I know that "it depends on the person" but I really liked the example you used for your artistic friend [zak]. Anyone else have any examples? I mean it's never been an issue in the past for me. It's always been some random conversation element that ended up "Oh man! You play too? Cool let's get together sometime!"

Anyway.. I'm just grumpy and fizzled over sitting around staring at all my nifty new free games (not too mention having noone to play "MY" game with).


T

http://www.demihuman.evilfrogs.com
(go get Any Town, U.S.A.!!)
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unodiablo
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« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2001, 12:53:00 PM »

Hi Filthy,
If you have friends who are into B-Movies, try getting them to play "Grave Robbers from Outer Space", a $20 card game from Z-Man... If they can get into that, chances are you can wean them into role-playing by going, "how would you like to play another game like this?".

If they like playing cards, or video games, or board games, it's easier too. I've been trying to put a group together for a while now, and it looks like I only need one more willing player to get things going RPG-wise.

But I also have 5 other friends who are up for a game of GROS anytime we have 30 minutes to kill!
Sean
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Laura Bishop
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« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2001, 01:45:00 PM »

I don't know if there's really any Secret Formula to creating the gamer.  Ultimately, you can only give them the opportunity and then have to let them decide if they want to take that leap.

My advice though is to play off of popular culture.  Do they like Star Wars?  Do they like Star Trek?  How about Hercules and Xena?  Big Law and Order fans?  Everyone loves Indiana Jones!  Each of these offers the non-gamer a chance to step "into the ring", if you will, with at least a substantial understanding of the setting.

In cases like Star Wars, Star Trek, Indie, Herc or Xena, it's going to be easier: a bit campy at first perhaps, and you'll end up with a lot of stereotypical characters (the Jim Kirk, the Han Solo, the Warrior Princess), but character development can come in time.  If you've got the friend with a serious streak, and thinks that RPGs are just for 'nerds', take a show like Law and Order, and convert it to a game of Sorcerer: a good lawyer has gone bad by binding a demon who's promised her Justice but instead has only brought her Grief.

Let me give you an example:

We have a predominately male gaming group.  It consists, for the most part, of myself, my Husband Unit, Joel and Seth. Yes, this would add up to one girl: yours truly.  As the boys acquired girlfriends, I've been involved in a slow, soft campaign to call them into the fold and -- for the most part -- have been successful.  For Joel's girl Jen, I simply handed her Star Trek: TNG RPG.  She wasn't getting our GURPS/Mage/Changeling/Tribe 8/TMNTs at all, and wasn't showing a big interest in AD&D (not that I blame her, but that's another story for another day).  But, once given Star Trek: RPG, a setting and characters she knew intimately, she "got it".   She's since moved on to 7th Seas pretty much on her own and is now a strong gamer in her own right.  Sonja, my brother-in-law Seth's girlfriend, was a bit of a harder sell.  She still doesn't "get it" totally, but she's willing to humor us.  She also respects our sessions enough that, when she does get bored, she doesn't pull any of the Usual Girlfriend Tricks: getting Seth to leave early, the loud sighing, or simply leaving the room to grab the PS2.  Sonja liked the Warrior Princess angle ala Xena crossed with the Diplomatic Princess angle ala Leia.  I guess I need to find Princess' That Kick Some Ass RPG (hmm, does Danger Girl have a mod yet?).  But she honestly seems to want to join in our fun; I'm just having a hard time finding that Magic Moment that does it all for her.  I'm hoping that maybe I can lure her in with Daughters of Sophia next time she drives up.

I know this isn't an exact parallel to your own situation: we have the advantage of an established group of people these two women respected as 'intelligent' and 'cool'.  But, what I hope you got out of my little round-about dribble was that these girls were able to at least, in partical, understand our RPG hobbie by viewing it in terms they already understood.

For your football friend... man, ida know.  No one likes sports around here. ; )

-- L
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2001, 01:45:00 PM »

(as an aside, I've posted like 50 times or something and haven't figured out how to do anything with the text.. ie: centering quotes, text color, etc. Is it HTML tags? or what?)

All the formatting I use is HTML tags. But you can also use BBcode. Check out the "FAQ" from the tiny link at the top right of the page. It describes how.

Also, the little "quote" link at the bottom of every message is a quickie way to end up in an edit window with the text of the source message surrounded in "quote" BBcode that results in the indented, quoted text blocks you've noticed.

Paul
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trelliz
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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2001, 01:08:00 AM »

The problem i've found is that if you explain a game to someone and you mess up the description, then there is no chance of that person wanting to ever play it. I tried explaining Little Fears to one of my friends as 'The things that go bump in the night are real, and you play as a kid trying to survive' and they went right off it before they'd even seen it. also that person wasn't really a gamer at all, so that was another factor.

I tried explaining LF to another friend, who was a gamer this time (although he does only play Warhammer 40,000), and he seemed interested, but ultimately he wasn't convinced, but i'll keep trying.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2001, 06:40:00 AM »

Hey there,

This is my call on the matter as presented - geez, almost a year ago - on the Gaming Outpost, edited slightly. It assumes a general Narrativist perspective.

*******
1) Talk to the folks you're thinking of playing with. Often this means starting NOT with, "Come on over and we'll play," but rather, "Come on over, meet for lunch, and we'll just talk." Ask questions about what they think role-playing is FOR (in terms of actually at the moment), give examples of play that you like or don't like and see what they think. Talk about movies or stories you like, and how you think their elements may be reflected in styles and methods of role-playing.

2) Don't go mad with jargon. Most folks I've talked to respond very well to GNS-light, but I don't recommend using any jargon, but rather examples that make the points instead.

3) Don't be all into what game you'll play from the outset, but rather have three or four to choose from; bring along the rulebooks so people can thumb through them. Even if you're dealing with hard-core fans of Some Game, try to get some freedom of discussion going about it. Maybe play a few sessions of Some Game, and then try a few of something else. Ask the other people what games sit on their shelves that they've always wanted to play.

4) In line with #3, plan for (and describe) solid, short scenarios that can be dealt with in 3-5 sessions of play and be done. Sure, maybe you have your 480 pages of original background you've been refining over the last fifteen years, but hold off. Just play in a little corner of your (or the book's) world and see if the GAME and the PEOPLE can yield a good time and a good story. Explain this to the other people too - that you are not expecting a night of every week unto perpetuity, and ALSO that you are not planning on a superficial little one-shot either.

5) Say no when necessary. Pick your role-playing cohort as subjectively and judgmentally as you please. Willingness to play is NOT itself a reason to include someone - think of it like a band, where the weakest or more irresponsible member, or even the talented one who cannot work well with the others, is a drag on everyone else. Say no, perhaps covertly by never getting back in touch, or overtly if that's more your style. A couple of years ago, I thought I was all set with a group, then realized how non-functional they were and simply cancelled the whole thing, starting my search over.

6) Ron's rule: so-called "experienced gamers" are often dysfunctional role-players. Look for those "secondary" players, the ones who know there's something they like about the activity but haven't quite been satisfied by anything. Be up-front in social settings about your hobby, show NO embarassment or deference about it, and then look for the closet role-players, who may have laughed in front of their friends, but then come sidling up and admit that they really liked playing 10 years ago.

7) Be a socially-competent human in terms of the larger society. If you're adept at the behavioral and verbal quirks of the gamer-fan scene, put all those mannerisms aside. Giggling, head-rolling, pitching your voice nasally when you mean what you say ... just stop it. When people react negatively to your statement that you role-play, they are REALLY reacting to your shoulder-hunching, submissive, apologetic delivery. Look them in the eye and speak slowly. Study martial arts.

Cool Related to #7: communicate to the female individuals that you are not (a) hunting babes via role-playing, (b) adolescent (look UP when you talk to her, yes, at her face), or (c) nervous around women for any reason. If any of these are a problem for you already, work to correct them. Remember, you may or may not get the woman to attend if you convince the guy, but you WILL get the guy to attend if you convince the woman.

Those are my first thoughts on the matter, anyway.

******

Best,
Ron


[ This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-09-05 11:36 ]
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Marco
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« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2001, 10:31:00 AM »

When I was in high school we got a new science teacher. He told us flat out that he enjoyed playing Star Fleet Battles, Dungeons and Dragons, and other stuff like that.

I nearly fell off my chair. Needless to say he headed up the HS gaming group (I was like "Man you gotta start one!").

The group got a lot of people who might not have been there because a teacher was running it. Something you might try is posting something where you work. If, for example, you work in the computer field, you'll find a lot of non-gamers who are interested and (probably) geeky enough to at least check it out.

My point is, be brave enough to ask around where people already know/respect you if they're even marginally geeky enough.

Addtional point: find computer programers. There's usually enough overlap that somone will at least be interested. Oddly enough the Armed Services seem to work well for that too ...

-Marco
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2001, 10:43:00 AM »

What Marco said about being brave. And others above. Apollogetic delivery will really kill any attempt to persuade anyone of anything. Subconciously.

Vis a vis the D&D reference - Not that I'm all down on D&D really (OK, so I am, so what?), but I make the following suggestion. It's for when people say, "You mean like D&D?" in that "How could you be asking me, a real person, about something so geeky" tone (which I hear a lot, it seems). I respond, "Kinda, but that's a bad example; the stuff I play is more for adults." This is slightly disingenuous, because obviously one could run D&D for adults as well, but it works because people then assume that there really is another less geeky level of gameplay available.

And since I don't play D&D, no problemo.

Hope that little trick helps.

Mike
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2001, 07:38:00 PM »

Hey,

I agree with Mike in his tactic. It may be unfair to D&D, but I am repping for role-playing in general, not trying to re-fight the 1980 fight for D&D's mainstream legitimacy.

It got me lambasted at GO (although I stuck to my guns) a long time ago, when I said something like,
"AD&D is to role-playing what the Spice Girls are to music. Yes, they are part of music, but being a musician doesn't mean you like them or approach music in the same way they do."

Boy, did this get flamed. On the one hand were the D&Ders who were real mad, and on the other were the Spice Girls aficionados. Both missed the point entirely. You could insert ANY band, of WHATEVER quality, into that statement, as long as it was a band with a high-profile, superficial media presence.

Non-role-players know exactly what I mean by the statement, given how they react. Usually it's by (1) establishing personal respect toward me, to acknowledge that this is something that COULD be interesting and not stupid; and (2)expressing some curiosity about whatever it is I am doing with this activity. In other words, they react appropriately. I could, at this point, mention that the current revision of D&D is very coherent and much easier to grasp and enjoy than the previous (admittedly specialty-taste) versions. I could also describe some of the range and depth of long-standing games that few people know about, like Amber or Pendragon. I could talk about the burgeoning grassroots scene on the internet.

The point is that this statement - appalling as it is to the insider - is bluntly accurate in terms of its meaning to the non-insider.

Best,
Ron
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jburneko
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« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2001, 07:57:00 PM »

Quote

"AD&D is to role-playing what the Spice Girls are to music. Yes, they are part of music, but being a musician doesn't mean you like them or approach music in the same way they do."


Hey Ron, I have a version of this that has pissed my d20 gamer fanatic off to no end.  But if you like it, it might serve you better in future because you will only be pissing off D&D fans and not music fans as well.  My version goes:

"D&D is to Role-Playing as McDonalds is to Cuisine."

Just my take.

Jesse
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joshua neff
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« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2001, 09:28:00 PM »

Actually, I use a similar approach when dealing with people ignorant of comics--I dis superheroes & start seriously & soberly (but not apologetically or pompously) explaining how comics are more than just "people in funny tights beating the crap out of each other". (The popularity of Sandman has helped this, to a certain extent.) Then, if the person is still interested in talking comics, I admit that, in fact, I read a number of superhero comics & love the genre.

& yeah, it is unfair to D&D--but then, so is the general perception of RPGs in general & D&D specifically (&, in my opinion, the Spice Girls, who are brilliant).
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james_west
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« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2001, 06:44:00 PM »

Hello all -

I've found this a very interesting thread, because I am an extremely closeted gamer. While the thread started out as a "How do I get a game group," it morphed into, "How do you talk about gaming to non-gamers." A lot of good comments.

A trivial suggestion: Krayne's SOAP as a starter game. When I ran it at the last convention, I think the majority of my players were the non-gamer SO's of people who were downstairs playing miniatures, and they flat out loved it, and got into it very, very fast. We started new games until the time slot was up, at their initiation, using different genres. It's really easy, really fast, and gets people started in a nicely narrative mindset.

            - James
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Ian O'Rourke
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« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2001, 12:36:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-09-09 22:44, james_west wrote:

A trivial suggestion: Krayne's SOAP as a starter game. When I ran it at the last convention, I think the majority of my players were the non-gamer SO's of people who were downstairs playing miniatures, and they flat out loved it.


I'm not sure what the specifics of SOAP are, but as I understand it, it is quite removed from what most people would consider a traditional game. Anyway, linking in with that I've found non-gamers will quite happily play Murder Mystery weekend type games - and they will get a costume and role-play their hearts out.

So non-gamers can like the idea, it's just sometimes a mental block in their minds.


[ This Message was edited by: Ian O'Rourke on 2001-10-05 07:05 ]
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