The Mechanics of Creating Gaming Groups

Everyone up for a short post? Here goes.
Finding Your Group
Over the last year I’ve been stuck in Northern Houston, without access to a ride. I don’t have a gaming group here, and the other players I know all have family responsibilities or live in isolated areas that prevent them from forming a regular group. Of course once you’ve been bitten by the gaming bug, it’s hard to avoid thinking about gaming. Have you ever been in this position yourself? Are you in this position now? What is one to do?

Here are several ideas that come to mind.
1. The Sequel. Reach out to old gaming friends to see if they want to continue your old adventures – a “sequel” if you will.
2. Your FLGS. Head down to your Friendly Local Game Store and either look for a group needing a new player or try to start a new group yourself. Many FLGSs have bulletin boards just for this purpose.
3. Gaming Forums. Try hitting the most popular gaming forums and look for players in the threads of your favorite games.
4. Social Media. Don’t forget about Meetup and other social networking sites, which can be great places to find fellow tabletop gamers in your area.
5. Online Play. Keep in mind we don’t even have to play face to face anymore. Today we have Skype, Roll20, G+, Oovoo and other video software programs that let us game across distances. Other options include play-by-email, play-by-forum-post, chatroom play, and even play-by–SMS-text. There are so many options for distributed play, I’ll have to write a blog about it another time.

Where do you look for gaming friends and groups? Let me know in the comments.

Organizing Your Group
So you’ve found or started a group of people who want to play. Now comes the task of organizing this group: figuring out what, how and when you are going to play. Come to consensus on those basic decisions first.

Once the basics are set you all should start talking about the setting of the game. I talked about the first stage of this process a few weeks ago. First, you need to decide if you’re going to play a GM’d game or a collaborative GM-less one, or maybe something in-between, like rotating GMs, or GMs assigned to geographic areas, etc. Next, you have to determine the basic setting: where are you going to do your adventuring? Are you going to investigate mysteries? Kill evil monsters? Explore new worlds? Get the group talking about what types of stories they’d like to be part of. Around this time you should also be deciding on your genre, followed by picking a game system that speaks to all these decisions. I’ll talk about picking a genre in next week’s blog.

That’s a lot of stuff to consider, and it might take a meeting or two to get it right. That’s okay. If someone can’t work with the group during this stage it’s a good sign that they probably shouldn’t be in your group anyway. The point of this whole approach is to lay down some general rules and guidelines about how the group is going to play. This is commonly called a "social contract” – but to my mind it’s a gaming contract. Does your group use gaming contracts?

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