During a recent conversation, a friend living in another city lamented how hard it has been to try and establish a regular gaming group. Despite having several people express interest in starting a campaign, she’s been unable to get anything off the ground with any consistency. Several attempts have been made at scheduling, but each time the game seems to die on the vine before it even gets started. It’s an incredibly frustrating position for a gamer to find themselves in, especially when they REALLY want to game.
A while back I talked about GMs having to take on the planning duties for their gaming group to keep it going, but another aspect of that I didn’t touch on was how to get a gaming group started in the first place. Many of the same planning and coordination issues are still a problem, but you have an added obstacle in getting people to show up for that first session. When a game exists in theory only, it’s very easy to say ‘Yeah, that sounds awesome!’ but it’s another issue entirely to get people to commit several hours of their meager supply of free time to that game.
If you’ve never been in the situation where you needed to find or found a gaming group, I envy you. My first experience with this was after my high school GM joined the reserves and disappeared, leaving me to try and find a new gaming group. Steeling my nerves, I joined a gaming club and found my college group. We had several years of sporadic awesome, but eventually adulthood responsibilities crept in and we eventually stopped gaming altogether. There was no clear line drawn for when we stopped, but eventually there was no gaming, just talk about gaming.
I kept holding out hope that the group would revive, but eventually I realized I needed gaming in my life even if my friends weren’t going to do more than talk about how awesome gaming was. My second experience trying to find a gaming group was a bit of ick combined with a bit of luck. I eventually found a game through a social networking site, but the GM was absolutely awful and very creepy for so many reasons that aren’t worth going into here. Luckily, the other players were cool and after most of us stopped showing up for the creepy GM’s game, we formed our own group. With some ups and downs, we’ve been gaming together for ten years now.
So what’s the key to getting a group off the ground? Sometimes it’s just lightning in a bottle of getting the right people together at the right time. Everything just clicks with the group and everyone is already looking forward to the next session. Other times it’s going to be a balancing act of lowering expectations combined with perseverance. For my friend, I suggested that she keep pushing to get people to commit to game nights, but to also be satisfied if she gets just a couple of committed players. Having a couple of solid players should be enough to get something started and maybe that commitment will attract other good players.
I’m honestly curious what your experiences are with this. Are you one of the lucky few that has never had to work to find a group, or are you like myself and my friend, where at one point you struggled to find a new group to keep gaming alive in your life? And if you did have to work at it, how did you get it to all come together?