Labor Day in the United States marks the end of summer, a day when municipalities close their outdoor swimming pools. Schools in the northern states used to wait this late to start, but niceties such as high school football and mandated number of school days nixed that.
The other seasonal tradition is the fashion-maven’s adage: Don’t wear white after Labor Day.
The origins for this are a bit obscure, except it was perhaps a way for members the leisure class to distinguish itself from the working class during the summer. The rich can wear white on holiday simply because it can get away with it — while the rest of the poor slobs are in the same drab clothes they always wear.
Of course, few people actually adhere to the restriction on wearing white. And why should they? Gamers should take up the same disregard for the rules.
For gamers, Labor Day also marks the end of the convention season. The days of all-day/all-night gaming sessions, of buying sprees for the latest thing, of cross-country travel to re-aquaint with gaming friends, are at an end. It’s back to the grind — be it school or work or vocation.
Some GMs take advantage of the seasonal switch to launch new campaigns. September seems to be a natural beginning for such thing. The prospects of regular gaming would support this approach.
But, there’s nothing wrong with wearing white after Labor Day, either. Here’s a few things you can do to carry on the carefree feel of summer once the days get shorter and the shadows get longer:
An all-night session on the weekend
Set aside the dinner and a movie, and opt for a dinner and a dungeon, instead.
Run a game day
Try holding a game day (or mini-con) at a local game store (you might find a willing partner in the store owner) or, while the weather holds, in your backyard. Make this an opportunity to try out a new game, new module or product from the summer you’ve been dying to play (but haven’t had the opportunity to try out). It means rounding up a handful of GMs willing to run games for the afternoon and some flyers (and e-mails) to spread the word, but beyond that, there’s nothing like having a gathering of like-minded folks all rolling dice at the same time.
As a gaming group, save up your pennies and then plan a trip together to a gaming store. It’s not quite the same as walking the convention floor, true enough. But shopping together, especially if a couple of car-loads descend on the same place at one time, can be a neat experience. And since you’re together, you can get a consensus about what games you will really want to play before you buy them.
Set aside a “one-shot” Saturday (or Sunday, if you prefer). This is the equivalent of breaking open a box you’ve just purchased at the convention and setting up in a corner and asking all-comers to play. Look for a lull in your regular campaign, which you can set aside for a weekend, to try this out. Everyone brings that “one game” purchased during the summer that they’ve been dying to play. Limit the trial for each game to a couple of hours, so you can try more than one. The person who brings a game is responsible for running an introductory session (for rpgs, at least, most come with an introductory modules for this very purpose).
Have a short’n’sweet seminar. Unless you happen to have an industry insider living close by willing to drive over to your group and lecture for an hour about a subject near and dear to their heart, this can be the next, best thing. Before your next session, make sure everyone in your group is responsible for bringing something gaming-related they can share with the others. It could be information about an upcoming product, podcast, gaming advice (print out an article from Gnome Stew, perhaps), or even a thread from an interesting message board discussion. Distill it down to a 30-second spiel, and go once around the table to discuss each item. It might be a good way to give the pre-game “bull session” a little more structure and provide information the others might not know about. What’s a convention seminar, anyway, but a bit of “show ‘n’ tell”?
With a little bit of forethought, you can replicate a bit of the summer convention season experience for your gaming group.
But this is list is hardly exclusive. What are some other ways to keep summer gaming going? What do you do to wear white after Labor Day?
I love the idea of running a seminar and having everyone do a show and tell. Summer is usually the time of disruption for my group, and we’ve just settled into a long term campaign. Right now, is the time when the people who could game over the summer but can’t now, or the people who couldn’t game in the summer but can now start switching in and out. There isn’t a session in the last month that has had everyone at the game. Usually we switch to one-shots and game with whoever is available.
I think all gamers should try and run more public events. It helps our hobby in so many ways. Thanks for the ideas, Troy!
I believe that the actual origins of the “don’t wear white after Labor Day” go way back in history.
As you all know, Labor Day marks the end of summer, a carefree time when you can stay up all night gaming, travel on a lark and a shoestring budget to visit far-off friends, and wear whatever you want.
When the US government was looking to put Labor Day (in recognition of the American worker) on the calendar, they were faced with the need to put it somewhere other than commie-inspired May 1st. Putting it at the end of the summer was a masterstroke of genius; everybody would make the connection and know that it was the end of summer.
Why? You see, many of us said a fond ‘farewell’ to our carefree days when our first child was born. This was to us parents a magical day, but it was known only to our single and childless friends as “The day labor started”, or Labor Day. Even before it was put on the calendar, the carefree time in one’s life has always ended on Labor Day.
If you have a kid, you already know why you don’t wear white after Labor Day. If you don’t, you’ll probably find out eventually…
(The above statements have not been verified.)