The Lonely Gamer

I’m going to guess that tons of people have written about how to find a game in your local area, but I have been living this delema for the last year of my life. So why not pass on any and all information I have garnered from this trial. I moved to Portland from Seattle about a year ago. I left behind tons of friends and lots of opportunities to game with people I had known for years. I left right as I was getting in to D&D so my newness compounded my apprehensions about playing with people I didn’t know. This was a huge obstacle, the idea of trying something new, with people who I had never met and who had a great deal more experience than I did was overwhelming. I began entertaining the thought of driving back to Seattle on a bi-monthly basis to play with my friends. That option was really not logical, or economical, besides it would have not solved any of my problems. I still wouldn’t have known anyone in this great new city, and I would never get plugged into the gaming scene. I had to get over my fears, and get past my timidity and find a group of people willing to let me join their group and teach me how to play.

First things first, I needed to find a game, and in any town or city no matter the size, this can be rough. There are multiple websites set up with forums dedicated to players looking for games, the only problem with these is the level of traffic, and how many visitors are from your area. The internet makes the world a smaller place, but trying to meet local people using the internet makes it feel much larger again. So there is a small list of web resources I have found useful to finding a game, or players for your game.

#1: Meetup.com – I know this might look like a cheesy dating site, but meetup has given me the most success in finding players in three different cities. It’s a great, easy to use site with lost of people using it. If you can’t find a meetup group in your local area, perhaps you should start one; this might lead you to more gaming opportunities than you think.

#2: Your local game/hobby store. – This one might not sound like an internet resource but bear with me here. If you have a good local gaming store they should have a website. This site, if like most, will have two tools that can land you in a group in no time flat. First is the forums: most forums for a local store will be frequented by local players, and those looking for fresh blood will be looking there. The second is the store: calendar, this will list store events, and using this you can actually meet other gamers at events like game days or delves with out having the pretense of being the new guy. You can size up DMs and other players in person and find people with whom you click.

#3. Pen and paper games – This is a huge data base of players looking for games, games looking for players and everything in between. They have  a connection with obsidian portal, so many of the games looking for players even have fun websites and descriptions, so you can read up a bit before contacting them. It has a great map feature linked to a searchable database, which will show you the location of local games, players looking for a group and so on. I have had a little luck with this one, though it often has a “post and walk away” feel to it. Often those groups looking for players don’t update when their groups are full or if they stop playing. So it can be hit or miss.

#4. WotC community page – Great tool and fun user pages but this one can be more miss than hit. The forums have a Lfg page, but again the users are so spread out that finding the few people from your area who are trying to find players can be hard. I would use this more for relationship building. Find players who frequent the D&D community pages who live in your area. Test them out a bit, send them game questions, add them to your friends list, and keep up with what they are doing. Once you have a good friend list of locals you will be more likely to catch wind of openings or new games starting up.

#5. RPG game find. I’m not adding this one because I have ever had luck with it, but because I operate under the auspice of  casting a wide net for a larger catch. I have yet to find a game using RPG game find, but it only takes once to land in a really great game, so I wouldn’t leave this one out of your search. It has a very simple database and is easy to use. Be warned though, it’s built for Internet Explorer only; if you use Fire Fox this site won’t work for you.

#6. *Craigs list* – This is in stars because it is an honorable mention. I have been in a group which formed though the use of Craigs List but it’s not how I found it. Results form this site can range from spam to ladies of ill repute soliciting you (believe me it happens), to even stranger stories. So use this site at your own risk. I have, in my past few searches, left this one out.

The Right Fit

Ok  it might be a while before this next information is useful. This is about figuring out if a game is right for you. Sometimes looking for a game can take a while, and if you have been trying for a good amount of time, desperation sets in. When you put out an ad or respond to one any, opportunity is a good one right? The short answer is no. No two gaming groups are the same, and you shouldn’t go in to a group with a fantasy that every group is a good fit for you. I have had my share of mismatches, and just down right awful groups. Sometimes you and some of the other players just don’t mesh, sometimes it’s the location. I’m 30, living a normal life; I’m not looking to spend my free time in a basement with high school teens. Nothing against teens, just not my idea of a good time. So here are some tips to make this part of the hunt a bit more fruitful.

#1: Communication. almost everything in life can be made more simple, more enjoyable, and much less painful with direct and clear communication. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions about someone’s game. Go deeper than just the setting and the meeting time. Ask about any home rules, ask about the age and maturity of the group; they don’t always have a corollary relationship. Ask questions about why they have openings, did the group split? Did some one leave on bad terms? Where do they meet? Are there pets there? Or kids? All of these are important. Though not all of them are deal breakers, it’s nice to know what you are stepping into when you are very new to a group.

#2: Set up a meeting. There is nothing wrong with meeting the DM and some of the players outside the game. At least try to spend some time with the DM, get a beer, or meet at a coffee shop to go over the history of the game, and possible character ideas. If you are going to be playing with these guys for hours a month it’s nice to know you can spend at least an hour with them out side of the game. If you can’t, chances are you should just keep looking.

#3: Shadow the game. No group should have a problem with you just sitting in on an hour or so of their game. Watching a full 4 hour session might not be all that fun, but at least watching an hour of the group dynamic will help you figure out if it is somewhere you can be comfortable. I often turn this around when I DM and  require possible new players to just sit in on a night of gaming to meet the players and interact. I am very selective about with whom I spend my precious few spare hours each week. I want D&D to be fun not a chore. If you get lucky you might even be able to shadow two or more groups in a night, but don’t plan on it.

#4: Have no problem walking away. Going to a game is in no way a a binding contract. If you skip all my other advice and find your self in a game where you don’t fit, walk away. Nothing can give you a bad taste for D&D, or any other game for that matter, like sitting through night after night of terrible game play. It might not even be that the group is bad, but more that you don’t fit. If they all share common interests and you don’t, then you stand the chance of being more of a glorified NPC than a player. I know it might take a session or two for you to find your groove, but if you have been going for weeks and you still don’t feel part of a group, just say thanks and goodbye. Give some one who might be a better fit a chance to find the perfect group, while you go find yours.

#5: When all else fails try starting your own group. Often there are not only players out there looking for a group, but DMs. This method might be a bit of a headache at the outset, but if you can stick it out you might just have yourself a gem. If you can take the initiative to track down other players who have been looking for a group and modify some of my advice from above (i.e., pull them together out of game, talk about what you all want in a campaign run a delve with them at a local game store, or coffee shop, perhaps run two or three and give everyone a chance to “audition” as the DM) it might just birth a new gaming group, and a whole new set of friends.

If all else fails you can always look into playing an online game. I know it lacks the luster and excitement of a live game, but I hear it’s a good way to get your fix. If you have other suggestions about websites, or ways to find a party please leave a comment. Any sites I like I’ll add to my list, and credit the person who suggested it.

T.

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Comments
One Response to “The Lonely Gamer”
  1. lollerkeet says:

    nearbygamers.com is ab lessing.

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