Gaming Monogamy

edited June 2009 in Story Games
I hear this all of the time, it goes down like this:

It is a thread about some game, let's call it New Hotness and someone pipes in and says something to the tune of:

"I just bought New Hotness and really like it. I can't wait to play but will have to wait until a con or something because my group just won't go for it. I mean, one of my buddies is a fan of the novels that NH is based on and another friend of mine is up for anything but the other people in the group just hate the idea and love their characters in the ongoing campaign of Olde Hotness that has been going on for years."

So, why not just grab the two folks who are down with playing New Hotness, poke around among your friends and/or local games club and see if anyone else is down for trying something new, set up a game night and get playing? I don't think I'm inventing the wheel or discovering fire, here but this idea that we have one gaming group and must game with all of them just seems off to me.

Comments

  • Judd: my sorta-bi-weekly storygaming group came into being precisely in the way you describe. Each of us has a standing "trad" game with an established group, but we all want the opportunity to shed our trad skins and play some avante garde stuff.

    I, personally, have found it extra rewarding because most story games I'm exposed to are played as one-shots. Having a regular group to play with means we can have multi-session games, which I find important because it takes a few sessions to learn how the game works.
  • Posted By: Maedhros
    I, personally, have found it extra rewarding because most story games I'm exposed to are played as one-shots. Having a regular group to play with means we can have multi-session games, which I find important because it takes a few sessions to learn how the game works.
    Neat, David.

    The only real one-shot engine I can think of among indie RPG's is Shock: and even that I am sure would get way more interesting after a dozen sessions or so, though it works fine as a one-shot. This myth that indie RPG's play as one-shots si born from convention play and it needs to be taken behind the chemical shed and shot.

    Something is going on in my head today about assumptions.

    Anyway, thanks for offering up your own experiences, David. I appreciate that.

    What have you folks been playing?
  • Posted By: Judd
    So, why not just grab the two folks who are down with playing New Hotness, poke around among your friends and/or local games club and see if anyone else is down for trying something new, set up a game night and get playing?
    At least in my experience, the problem's often one of finding time for more gaming. I can't fit in more than one night a week, typically, at the moment, and neither can most of the other folks I game with, so to take up The New Hotness would basically necessitate at least a break from The Olde Hotness. Now, sometimes that's a good thing. (And like David, I too have a biweekly "short runs and try things out" group that alternates with a "let's get the long-campaign D&D going" group.)

    - D.J.
  • I did that at one time, Judd, and now both groups are friends, and cross-breeding.
  • Hi Judd,

    Great question. My problem is that my gaming group tends to map to my close circle of friends. A few of us are parents, most of us are writers, and it's hard to find the time to socialize with them AND game. Finding time for a second group is really hard; it's challenging enough to get my primary group together.

    Add to this the wrinkle that most of the group is either DnD focused or system-agnostic (i.e., don't care as long as it's not complex), and I'm the only one with a yen to experiment with new systems. I've dragged them through Trollbabe, Wushu, FATE, Ars Magica, and a little Heroquest. Most of the players want long-term campaign play, which also makes it tricky to try new games.
  • At least in my experience, the problem's often one of finding time for more gaming.
    This, times one million.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarI did that at one time, Judd, and now both groups are friends, and cross-breeding.
    Us too. My two groups have cross-pollinated and now I have a pool of like 20 people to pick from for any given game or idea.

    p.
  • I had to put my 2/monthly but very ongoing-trad-rpg-oriented group on a 1/monthly diet for the summer to squeeze in 4-5 sessions of Bliss Stage over the next 4 months. Time is really the big limiting factor for playing outside the familiar. The other one is inertia - sure, I could cut back on/put on hiatus Olde Hotness to make room for New Hotness, but we know OH is fun, we only think NH will be... and disrupting the momentum of OH might do it real harm. I've had more than one game that was fun, well-attended, etc. just fail to re-integrate successfully after a hiatus. Not lack of interest, just other things had occupied the life space during the hiatus.
  • Posted By: Judd
    The only real one-shot engine I can think of among indie RPG's is Shock: and even that I am sure would get way more interesting after a dozen sessions or so, though it works fine as a one-shot. This myth that indie RPG's play as one-shots si born from convention play and it needs to be taken behind the chemical shed and shot.
    Now, surely there are plenty of one-shot games as well? Without having to think about it, I can name Breaking the Ice, Under the Bed, my own Zombie Cinema, Dead of Night, Contenders, Death's Door, It's Complicated, Mist-Robed Gate (maybe), Sweet Agatha and Geiger Counter. At least three or four of those have concernedly been designed to play specifically within the one-session constraint, so saying that indie rpgs as a category are not intended as one-session games is a bit extensive.
  • Posted By: Eero Tuovinen
    Now, surely there are plenty of one-shot games as well? Without having to think about it, I can name Breaking the Ice, Under the Bed, my own Zombie Cinema, Dead of Night, Contenders, Death's Door, It's Complicated, Mist-Robed Gate (maybe), Sweet Agatha and Geiger Counter. At least three or four of those have concernedly been designed to play specifically within the one-session constraint, so saying that indie rpgs as a category are not intended as one-session games is a bit extensive.
    What I should have written, Eero, is the only one-shot engine among the indie RPG's that I have played regularly is Shock: (and I should have added Zombie Cinema too).

    I know there are others. Sorry, poor writing on that one. Good catch.
  • Don't forget Montsegur 1244 - definitely a one-shot! (And an awesome one, at that!)
  • edited June 2009
    JuddWhat have you folks been playing?
    We started with a PTA game ("No Man's Land") which was a supernatural action/mystery series that took place in the trenches of WWI France.

    Then we switched to a six-session IAWA game that ended up being about Shakham the Dark Priest of the Old Gods.

    Next up was a Sorceror game set in 1968 Berkeley. The characters were an eccentric scientist at the University performing experiments on himself (cf. William Hurt in "Altered States"), a Vietnam-vet Black Panther from the bayous of Louisiana and an ex-astronaut (the lone survivor of the Gemini IV disaster) running for U.S. Senator.

    Current project is a PTA series entitled "Sanduski's Rock", which is a family drama set on a mining colony in space. Characters are all children of Conrad Sanduski, the mine supervisor: Saul, the oldest, is a firebrand labor activist (i.e. a space-Wobbly). Kyle, the middle child, is a high-school jock coming to grips with his sexuality. Natalie, the youngest, feels ignored and is acting out by seeking dangerous thrills. So far it's been outstanding.
  • I'm in the same group as David, for the same reasons. My "regular" group (which I see maybe once every three months or so) is very much into the long-term Olde Olde Hotness. Now I only game with them when it's something I really want to play because I have other outlets (the "indie" group with David and others) for the New Hotness. Now when I *do* game with the OH group I'm a lot more relaxed and not as inclined to "fix" their gaming, since I know I've got other outlets for my crazy hippie gaming.

    So, go gaming polygamy! OK, that sounds deeply odd. Anyway...

    In answer to your original question, though, there are a lot of reasons. Scheduling is a biggie for me. I'm married with one child, and my wife and I both work. So, not as much flexibility when trying to juggle commitment to two groups. For other people it might be a lack of interested players, geographical limitations, or who knows what. So, even if the motivation is there, there may be obstacles.
  • edited June 2009
    Limited free time is definitely the main obstacle to gaming multiple nights a week. There was a brief window of time where work, social, and family responsibilities let us all fit in two or maybe even three sessions a week as adults, but that passed as soon as people started getting houses and better jobs and kids. We make a commitment to play once a week and we can do that, but playing twice? That ain't going to happen with my schedule.

    Our group seems to have sidestepped Judd's problem, though; we tend to run games that have ENDINGS, and the idea of a game lasting years just sounds weird to me now. (Our games last anywhere from 10 to 24 sessions, I'd guess...3-6 months' worth of gaming.) And that's not including weeks where not everyone can make it there, when we might decide to play something else or watch movies or whatever.

    So when someone has a burning need to test-drive the "New Hotness," well, there's not really an "Olde Hotness" standing in the way. Wait a couple of weeks until the current game ends and make your pitch, or wait until the Saturday when someone has to work and pitch it as a smaller-group one-shot, or whatever. If it sounds good, we'll play it. If it IS good, we'll keep playing it.

    Just, you know...not for years and years and years without stopping. Because 3-6 months from now, we're going to want to wrap it up so that we can play something ELSE.


    It's this attitude more than anything else that I think makes playing exclusively with the same gaming group work for us. Everyone likes endings, everyone likes switching things up and playing in a different genre or with a different GM or with different rules or what have you. Keeps things from getting stale.
  • I like my friends a thousand times more than I like games. Fortunately they are cool with experiments, though, otherwise I might like them less.
  • edited June 2009
    My friends got me into gaming. Before 1997 I never thought of gaming as anything other than that weird but fun thing my friends and I did together.

    I never collected Dragon magazine, didn’t belong to any online gaming BBs or IRC gamer related channels, and I didn’t read fantasy novels. I would see these inviting new game books at my local library and wonder… who exactly is playing these besides my friends?

    In 1997 I attended Origins, my first convention and wow. Seriously wow. Not only did I have a chance to play different games but play with different people. And I love people. And I love gaming. It was pure joy. Gaming wasn’t some secret thing. Nor was it special. Which was freeing.

    Before 2003 I never thought of gaming as anything other than that amazingly cool thing I do with my friends at home and strangers at Origins and Gencon.

    In 2003 a friend of a friend of a friend named Aaron started nerdnyc (which at the time was tiny and consisted mostly of Aaron’s friends and a few others). At Aaron’s wedding my gaming friend’s sister met Aaron’s friends and was all like “You guys play D&D? That’s that thing that my brother and his friends do! You should all meet.”

    We did!

    And then we met Luke Crane and his crew through Aaron. And it turns out that for many years prior to meeting any of them, I worked 2 blocks from where Luke lived and 1 block from where Aaron gamed. For years I thought gaming was just this weird thing my friends did at home or strangers did at far away conventions.

    Before there was an IPR (Indie Press Revolution), Aaron and Luke and friends were essentially IPR (Aaron even helped brainstorm the initial IPR concept with Ed and Brennan who were also part of nerdnyc). They used to sell their friends games and games from the Forge from their backpacks at local NY, NJ, and Philly conventions. The whole indie game Dreamation thing started with Aaron, nerdnyc, Luke, and the burning wheel crew. Luke would run demos of people’s games and then point them to the nerdnyc / burning wheel / indie game booth.

    Back to gaming monogamy. I had limited time but I wanted to play as many games with as many different people as possible. And due to Aaron and Luke’s efforts, the local scene was exploding, and there was no shortage of people to game with.

    In 2004 my friend Tim and I started pitching in to help organize nerdnyc. And to solve our thirst for more gaming Tim and I came up with the Gotham Gaming Guild. I didn’t want to play or hang out less with my old friends. So we brought all our friends together and all their gaming groups together. And every other Friday for 6-8 sessions, twice a year, we mixed everyone up and formed new groups with new and old friends to play new games! 5 years later we’re still rocking.

    Tomorrow we’re running our all day 4 times a year gaming event Recess… which is partly why I’m so excited and nostalgic (and I just finished listening to Clint’s interview with Luke on the Stabbing Contest podcast which reminded me how awesome Luke is and how much I like him).

    Interestingly, as we grew, a significant portion of the new people joining our community were actually former gamers (like used to game 10+ years ago), never gamed before, or were the friends or family of existing gamers. This is how I met the love of my life who used to game and was a friend of a friend connected to someone through nerdnyc. There is a lot of opportunity out there and many interesting and fun people to play with!

    Rock,
    John
  • I know heaps of gamers, all of whom know heaps of gamers. Nobody is going to get upset if you join a new gaming group, unless you're actually leaving an old one (in an uncool way) to do so.

    But yeah, adulthood. I play one Monday night RPG session a fortnight and I play HeroClix every Thursday. That's about as much gaming as I can regularly fit in.
  • I'm number three in David and Colin's group :). Number four being Matt Gagan. The Sorcerer game is actually the one we talked about on the phone, Judd. I also produced No Man's Land, and I played Shakham and currently play Natalie (who actually suffers deeply from the loss of her sister, which is the reason for her acting out; it's just that the other members of the family are too busy with their testosterone-driven spats that they don't see her descent...).

    So yeah, we all met at Go Play events and started our group after having played Shock:, Beast Hunters, and Contenders (and maybe others) together at those. I actually abandoned my D&D 2e group. Like others, as a father of three with a full time job, playing once every two weeks is about all I can manage.

    I still meet the people from my old group for lunch every now and then.
  • We struggle with time constraints too: We get together a few Sunday evenings per month, with two different RPG campaigns running in parallel. We're adding a 3rd Sunday a month exclusively to play other short-term RPGs in August (starting with InSpectres and IAWA I think). I also am starting a weekly Skype BW game with a couple of friends to try and squeeze more gaming goodness in. It's tough to get even 3-4 people together on a weekly basis nowadays though.
  • Seconding all the 'finding time is difficult' comments.

    One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that our experience of this hobby is, by far, the minority. Most gamers follow the 'weekly poker night' pattern - it is a way to spend time with your friends, and create common experiences by doing the same thing, working on the same skills, for long periods of time. Not that story gamers don't want that, and create it, but on top of that we look for other things - experimentation, intensity, exploration, different story structures besides the heroic journey. On top of that, once you have a group that's been together five years or more, you are probably talking about families and children involved, where the players have an absolute lust to spend time with adults, and that five hours of poker is their time with peers. I've babysat enough to develop a searing hatred of Barney the Dinosaur, something I think every parent of a young child can understand.

    Last week my sister begged me to take her to a movie that wasn't an animated cartoon.

    MJ's called-shot-sneak-attack-critical-to-the-head that killed the ogre mage in one shot six months ago replace LeBron's 50-point triple-double, D&D replaces watching cars go around a track, or a bowling league.

    If your group of six musketeers has been in the same bowling league for ten years, and you start a pool league, the impulse to get everyone on board is natural and powerful, and if you fail to do that, it drains your enthusiasm for the project, even if your group is fine with you doing something new. Another example: inviting someone new to join, or replacing one of the regulars with a stranger, even temporarily, is something that has to be negotiated carefully to avoid stepping on people's feelings.
  • In Guadalajara Mexico (where I live, obviously) you will be lucky to find people who RP... let alone people who play anything that's not DnD 3.5 or Vampire: The Mascarade.

    People around here are really closed to new games... even to new versions of old games... I'm lucky to have some little group of people up for some indie gaming, I would have to move (and most probably will move anyway) if I hadn't these friends.

    It's difficult to get a group... It's way more difficult to get part of the group to try something new... or find people who'll join the sub.group... Mexico Sucks...
  • It's also hard to go out and meet people; it was a big deal for me to actually start meeting those at the Toronto Area Gamers. My experience was overwhelmingly positive, but it's hard to go meet strangers - it's like cold calling.
  • I will now gather my new gaming group to play God of Small Things / Their Eyes Were Watching God the RPG.

    I predict having no problems finding players. After all every educated person in North America has read and internalized both of those novels, right?
  • I moved away from old group but continued to play with them whenever I was in that neck of the woods. Unfortunately they scoffed at anything that wasn't 3.5 D&D, which I wasn't very fond of. So I gathered a group around where I live and started introing storygames. Now both groups are playing 4E, which is cool by me, and we have a revolving cast of players with both groups and a little bit of cross pollination.

    Still, I know it is easier for me to pull out a new game with Group B than it is with Group A, and with recent loses in Group B it looks like I will be seeking out a Group C to get a more regular game going.
  • My group has been pretty open to new stuff but Burning Wheel is a sticking point for one player in particular. Actually, Judd, it was your recent posts on the BW forums that prompted me to do just what you suggest here and now we're scheduling a BW side game.
  • Posted By: Brand_RobinsAfter all every educated person in North America has read and internalized both of those novels, right?
    I've never even heard of the first one. I blame the poor American education system.
Sign In or Register to comment.