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GeekNights Tuesday - Why Nobody can Find a Gaming Group

edited March 2013 in GeekNights

Tonight on GeekNights, we consider why the question of "how to find a gaming group" is so ubiquitous in every corner of the Internet. While it might seem cruel, and perhaps even mean, we posit that perhaps the majority of those actively seeking are some combination of:

  1. Not in a city
  2. Unable to find off-the-RADAR gamers
  3. Are "that guy"
Before this, we don't talk about the PS4, but then do discuss the Natural Selection 2 Gorgeous Update (babblers!) and the Kobolds Ate My Baby Kickstarter.

We're presenting Practical Game Theory and Mastering Game Mechanics at PAX East 2013! ConnectiCon is still accepting panel submissions! The GeekNights Gaming Grande Prix is underway!

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  • edited March 2013
    4. Not willing/able to run (or buy, for board games) the game themselves.

    Seriously, from the time I was a high school freshman, finding players was never the issue. It was finding a GM or the actual game that was tough.
    Post edited by Nuri on
  • Heh.. Even we basically force Alex to GM for us... ;^)
  • 5. Lack sufficient aura of awesome to magically convert all those around themselves into gamers.
  • I usually just have issues with time.
  • edited March 2013
    Having two friends that have run D&D panels at PAXen that basically amount to "how do I make and keep my RPG campaign", I feel like everyone glosses over some very obvious points that predicate all this shit. Answer these two questions.

    1) What are you trying to do?

    2) What is everyone else trying to do?
    Post edited by Anthony Heman on
  • I already own Kobolds, is there any real reason to buy the new edition? I don't care about color. What they should have done was expanded the book to include new campaigns. My friends and I played it 1.5 times and that was pretty much all the enjoyment we could squeeze from it.
  • Minor advantage of having tried to save/fix/salvage a bunch of "that guys", I have a lot of stories to tell.
  • So, was I "that guy" when we hung out at Paxes? Total honesty appreciated.
  • I've always been the GM for all my friends. I've probably run ten times as many games as I've played, and I haven't been a player for an in-person game pretty much since high school.
  • edited March 2013
    I live in the suburbs and there is particularly a swarm of people who want to play, it's the DM's that are the hardest types to find. That and getting schedules to adults.
    Post edited by Cremlian on
  • If you can't find a DM, be a DM. Seriously, just do it. Being a DM when you'd rather be a player is better than no D&D at all.
  • There are way better versions of that first thing of the day balancing act online. Why pick the longest one filmed by pointing a camera at a tv with shit all over the screen?
  • I'm going to have to listen to this one. Although I hope not I bet we can conclude I'm that guy. I mean it's even my name! >:(
  • edited March 2013
    If you can't find a GM, this thread on Story Games, a few posts down, has a list of 95 GMless roleplaying games. I don't think you can go wrong with trying out Universalis, Fiasco, or In A Wicked Age (which, the thread mentions can be run with rotating GMs, but neglects to note that it's almost GMless already, and running it GMless is so easy you can do it by accident without meaning to).
    Post edited by Xefas on
  • edited March 2013
    I'm going to have to listen to this one. Although I hope not I bet we can conclude I'm that guy. I mean it's even my name! >:(
    After talking with you at Burning Con, I am confident that you are Totally Guy, but probably not that guy. At least not that smelly, unsociable guy.
    Post edited by pence on
  • edited March 2013
    Perhaps the "how to find a game group" panels should be replaced with "how to not be 'that guy' training." You could still call it by the first name, but make it a bait and switch.

    It's not just that "that guy" can ruin a local game group, he can actively prevent one from forming. Specifically, I recall an effort on BGG to start a Facebook group for North Jersey pickup gaming. This struck me as odd because North Jersey is already grouped the fuck up. Why not use existing channels? The group got around 20 members in the first few days, surely enough to start getting people together, right? Nope! Mr. Creepster comes in an starts writing DAILY posts asking people to come play with him. Nobody ever reaches out publicly via the group b/c they are afraid the over-eager creepster will immediately latch onto their post. Group dissolves without ever meeting in the first place.

    When I decided to expand beyond my circle of friends about 3 years ago, I was making trips up to NerdNYC b/c it was the most public and visible example of a group with a low "that guy" rate, even though it was a bit far for me. Since then, I've found the layer of local groups that exist just below public advertisement.

    There are tons of North Jersey meetups and several hotel cons, all of which are flooded with undesirable characters. However, by going to a few of them and connecting with the normal gamers, I got invited to a series of regular private events. So these public meetups and cons basically serve as a filter, where those who run good private events can pull new blood in at their choosing.

    I also have a really good weekly Wed night group that has it's own interesting dynamic. The only acknowledgment that this group exists is a 6-year-old BGG thread in the Northeast forum. Unless you are really searching for NJ group threads, you'll never find it. I don't know how they've been so lucky, but they are "that guy"-free, even with 2 or 3 walk-ins from this random forum thread each year. That's how I found them. The group has about 16 people and they regularly get 10 to show each Wed, it's a little slice of gaming heaven. I just wish I could make it every week!
    Post edited by Matt on
  • "That guy" is probably the most toxic aspect of gaming group culture today. He's the reason so few groups are willing to be "on the RADAR:" they fear he'll catch wind and start showing up.
  • "That guy" needs love too. :-(

    I was probably "that guy" in high school, but in my defense I got that way through merciless and ever-present bullying from age 6 on up, by almost every other student in the school, literally. Like, in most schools, I think the kid-who-gets-picked-on rotates a bit. Not in our school. I was like an anti-mascot or something.

    But how do you fix "that guy"? Fuck if I know.
  • How to fix "that guy" is probably a Thursday show.
  • I still managed to find (small) gaming groups, though. Played the heck out of some Battletech, and we invented our own game using MegaForce:
  • I know a "that guy" that opened a gamestore so he could be more "that guy." Place smells of mold.
  • Oh God we have a gamestore like that near us. Alliance or Allegiance or something like that. They have tables set up practically wall-to-wall for Warhammer, with barely any room to move inside. The walls are festooned with blister packs that you can't help but disturb as you pass. My daughter went in there once to look for dice, and all eyes were on us as we entered, browsed very briefly, and left. Not one person said a word the entire time, even though there were like, 18 people in there.
  • If you listen to the show, we do make the very important point that "that guy" is a relative thing. I am "that guy" to light/casual gamers who don't want people to try too hard to win (they exist).

    But in this case, the particular "that guy" is the "that guy" who self-invites to events where he is guaranteed to be "that guy" to those people. This "that guy" is desperate, and is the primary reason established gaming groups don't publicly solicit more people even when they need them.

    Established gaming groups are basically just friend groups. They grow organically.

    "That guy" requires structure. He needs to "form a group" to play games. He's on active SONAR desperately pinging for other gamers, while surrounded by silent subs doing their damnedest to not be seen by him.

    Nothing is more terrifying than "that guy" with a firing solution on your game.
  • edited March 2013
    Here are a couple things I have noticed "that guy" doing at conventions.

    Being way too hyper, energetic, excited, etc. Chill the fuck out. It's super awkward and embarrassing for the people around you if you start shouting out random pop culture catch phrases and such. People who aren't that guy are chill and easy going.

    Perhaps because that guy is that guy, they will come pre-prepared with physical objects of social currency or topics to discuss. Maybe it's a swag they got in the dealer's room, or maybe it's a deck of Chez Geek cards they really want to play. When that guy attaches themselves to your group, they will keep trying to steer the conversation towards their pre-prepared topics. When nobody is paying attention to them, they will attempt to use their social currency swag.

    Someone who is not that guy has valuable things to contribute to most conversations. When they don't have anything to contribute, they calmly listen to what the other people are saying, and perhaps even ask questions. That guy rarely asks questions. That guy doesn't listen to others since they are so focused on figuring out how to get attention on themselves and get the conversation onto the topic they have prepared. Chill people don't need to prepare. They can go with any flow. The thing they have prepared is usually something they think will really impress other people, but they often don't give a fuck.

    The last thing that guy does is follow someone around who they just met. This person you just met has only known you for a minute or two because of polite greetings in a hallway. It is extremely awkward and weird for you to follow them around and spend as much time with them as the people that they are extremely close with.

    The close friends I have made at conventions were people who we grew close with over the course of years. Take a lesson from the master of friend making, Chase Gordon. We met him at a PAX concert for a few minutes. We did not see him again until the next year for the same few minutes. He didn't follow us or try to attach himself. He gradually and spontaneously kept appearing and being cool for a few minutes at a time over a very long period of time. If he had followed us out of the PAX concert and constantly tried to meet up with us the entire next day, we would not be talking about him.

    And that brings us to the final thing "that guy" does. Tying all of the above together, that guy reeks of effort. They are actively and obviously trying to belong. They are clearly thinking about how they can be your friend. It's not a bad thing to want, but it's self defeating. Belonging is something you can only achieve by not trying. Putting any thought or effort into it, even consciously desiring it, will result in you behaving in such a way that is counter to that very goal. The only people who can achieve this with effort are known as con artists.
    Post edited by Apreche on
  • I also know a "that couple". The analogy would be that how "that guy" was anathema to any female friends, they were anathema to any other couples. Full on swinging invitations and erotic role playing were always on the table.

    I actually get along fine with most of the people that I'm qualifying as "that guy". At the core of it I'm just as peculiar as most of these cases, I just mitigate it and manage it to a sufficient degree. I'm just not particularly differentiating about people. I like just about everyone most of the time. I can usually relate to the most socially awkward of people fairly well, because I'm an outsider 99% of the time.

    That said, my current RPG group as opposed to my wider gaming circle has become a bit homogenous lately. Everyone has a different doctorate and is in a committed relationship or married, with the exception of me as DM. I kinda miss having the one or two wild-card players that created some chaos simply by wanting different things out of the game, though this group is definitely "easier" to run with and more consistent.
  • I can definitely relate to being a try-hard. Its a product of years and years of rejection.
  • Food on shoulder.
  • edited March 2013
    I can definitely relate to being a try-hard. Its a product of years and years of rejection.
    Well at least you can admit it.

    When I decided I needed to go out and meet more gamers, it was because I didn't want to be "that guy" and push all of my friends into playing heavier games they weren't up for, or always wanting to play board games when we got together. I was probably over-eager a bit then too, but everything Scott said is 100% correct. Relax. Chill out, and just have a good time.

    Post edited by Matt on
  • I'm "that guy" about cards against humanity. I kinda hate that game. I can play it, but it has never resonated with me very much. Further, seeing every person ever playing it at PAX and hearing the same jokes every five steps really kills the novelty. That said, I won $5 off Rym at PAX, so there's that.
  • /tg/, as usual, has some great stories about That Guys. Probably the most famous, or at least the best, one is Luke, Plagueson of Nurgle (Warhammer fans will get the joke. Otherwise...).

    I will otherwise agree with what Rym says; outside of a few stereotypical stories, That Guyness is relative. Someone who wants to do an erotically charged My Little Pony game in a group of people who want to play Exalted would be a That Guy; in the same way, someone who wants to play a prudish ranger in an erotically charged My Little Pony game is just as much That Guy.

    In terms of reformation, I think they can be reformed, if caught early. There's a young gentleman in my Marvel game on Mondays who is a proto-That Guy: he's playing Deadpool, jokes about how "random" and "funny" he is, and wants to be the star of the show no matter what's happening. By catching him early (this is is first game ever) I'm able to steer him toward the light (I hope). I think there really is an event horizon, though; there's a point past which there is no redemption for That Guy. He's either determined not to change, or has become so set in his ways that it's nearly impossible.
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