Posts Tagged ‘newbies’

The Care of New Gamers – Part II

Indie Games Tracks and Game On Demand tables suck up players like sponges. It’s downright daunting how enthusiastic people get. For me, there’s three causes:

  • The GM isn’t beholden to any specific game, doesn’t have to contribute every damn thing, and can be fresh. They don’t have to invent a lot; they have to facilitate. And they’re not responsible for 80% of the fun.
  • The tables tend to be loud, with a lot of laughter and joyous surprise when players get power – maybe for the first time.
  • The games themselves are odd, and push strange agendas, whether that’s in the setting, situation, system, or the social reward of something like PTA’s Fanmail. This brings people out of their comfort zone, and they experiment with the form.

So when you watch all these smiling folk, who are sharing a game, and sharing their enthusiasm (loudly!), why wouldn’t you want to join in?

Here’s some techniques I use to get there:

  • I try to deliberately shake hands with whoever joins or visits the table and introduce myself.
  • I almost always explain how this is a shared thing – like really shared. So we’re all responsible, and this is an experiment.
  • I laugh a LOT at the table. I’ve had people tell me that was the first thing they noticed. That’s a good thing, right? Apart from the occasional person who thinks I’m laughing at, not with, this also encourages the group to support each other.
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The Care of New Gamers – Part I

A few years back, I saw this odd thing at a convention. The table was an Indie Games Track – tight, one-hour demos of various indie games, inspired by the hook you get when you play a hand of a CCG. “Oh, so that’s how it works. Huh. What happens next?”

So one of the GMs was pretty experienced – maybe 20 years of gaming under his belt. A couple of teenagers stopped by the table, and listened. In their enthusiasm, one blurted out a suggestion and was promptly told to fuck off by the GM. So they went away. And we didn’t see them back at the table.

Earlier in the day, I’d run a game where one of the teenagers had watched, but declined to join in. I’d been sure if he just got the right environment and saw how rewarding these games could be, he’d be hooked. But he never came back.