Sunday, November 13, 2011

Got a good group? Be grateful for what ya got

(pictured above: some gamer dudes trying to look cool and casual in the presence of a purty grrl)

My posting has been a little sporadic the last couple of months, feast and famine, due to being busy with work and other good life stuff. As it has been fun (mostly) having even a tiny voice in the online gaming community, the time I devote to game shit lately has actually been devoted more to actual gaming and less about droning on and on in a blog about the geeky side of my fairly non-geeky life. I have no aspirations to write games or adventures, fanzines, or to share charts and maps from my own games. And hell, there’s just too big a glut of all that anyway, just like gaming blogs. You either make that a big part of your life or you don’t. I don’t read more blogs, join more blogs, or seek to increase my following more because I just don’t have time to do it. Plus it is not as exciting to me as it was when I discovered there was an OSR around three years ago. Honeymoon period over, you know? And in recent months I’ve realized the truth of it; the actual gaming is far more important than talking about it or reading about it. Playing the game is always more fun than hearing about it.

It seems to me that so many blogging GM’s out there aren’t so into playing the game as they are writing about it. Getting more followers on their blogs (usually by joining each and every blog out there), having people read their game material, printing personal fanzines, or just plain having a voice in the OSR. If they get actual gaming going on, it seems just a thing to do so they can continue to do the ancillary things based on it with some amount of gravitas. But shit, if you have a group and it’s good, that should be the focus, right? But it is often not, it seems.

As we approach the holidays, a time when I am never sure how much time I am going to have on my hands to indulge in the secondary and tertiary life things, I wanted to take the opportunity to post about something I probably don’t do enough of; gratitude for the people I have the pleasure of being around a game table rolling dice with, bullshitting with, arguing with, and for the love of Mike getting actual quality gaming in with. This post is for the people at my sessions who put up with me and my wingding style, and keep coming year-in, year-out. This bud’s for you, bitches (who mostly don't even read this blog, so I feel safe calling them "bitches").

The more and more I look at the local gaming scene in So Cal, the more I realize how grateful I should be that I have a regular group that has been going strong for over three years now. And thanking God they are (fairly) normal people who happen to be gamers. But what I think really makes this group special is, despite a couple of “unique” personalities, is that not a one is what you would call a geek, dork, or spaz; At least in my moderately critical and judgmental eyes. Everyone is fairly interesting and fun without being extreme personalities. They are genuinely special without being wanna-be game designers, pretentious “artists,” or "retired" sex workers, edgy or otherwise.

I’m basically speaking of my own selfish joy here. I took around 8 years off from gaming (see my last post for an exception) because I didn’t have enough people around me to play during that time who would have been a right fit for a game group. I spent a bit of time in the 90’s recruiting gamers from non-believers that I knew who I thought would enjoy it. And they usually did. But it came to a point when I got older and didn’t have that kind of crowd around me, at least that lived locally. I’ve never been ashamed of gaming, but I certainly never told everybody I knew I was into it. As if. If I wanted to approach somebody to play in a game, I had to feel secure they would not just smile, look down, shake their head, and go back to talking about The X-Files or Seinfeld or whatever.

And I sure was not going to go hang around game shops or cons to try and sift through the flotsam and jetsom to find people I could stand being around the table for several hours with on a regular basis. I mean, if I did not have this group and was willing to do anything to get some gaming going, I’d have to go to more cons, gimmicky pay-to-play sessions held at stores and comic book shops, or monthly Orange County gamedays full of aging gamer dad’s trying to get their bored kids interested in the hobby they grew up loving by making them sit through sessions, mostly done by eager but strangely subdued DM’s, who run games that consist of reading aloud from the box text of old TSR modules or Pathfinder adventures in monotone voices (yeah, I visited and saw all that)– when they have D&D going on at all. And getting involved with private groups in the area is usually unsatisfactory and often verging on the disturbing.

So while other local groups come and go like the proverbial wind, or consistent groups made up of an open door “temporary players” situation seem to struggle to carry on from one week to the next, here I sit somehow blessed with a great group made up of four of us who have been there the entire three years, and three of us who are now on their (more or less) two year anniversary of play, well, what can I say? Sure, I bitched about some of the power/meta-gaming here and there (mostly because I was not used to being around it, these were mostly seasoned gamers compared to my 90's groups), but now we are used to each other and our particular peccadillo's. We know what we can get away with, and what we probably should not try to get away with unless you are Dan Dan The Power Game Man(tm). And it there is a certain security in the fact that we have to turn down at least one person a month who wants in the group because we are at maximum occupancy.

Do I deserve this good fortune, gamewise? I dunno. I’m basically a decent person who generally focuses his over emphasis on passion and outgoingness in good and positive directions, including into the games he devotes time to. Hey, anybody who has devoted a certain side section of their life since childhood to a hobby of pretend deserves a group like this, and it’s unfortunate not more get to experience that. I’m blessed, I tells ya! How long will it last?

So do you have a strong group you are glad to have? Or are you just happy sporadically playing out there in the gaming jungle?


  1. My gaming group currently consists of Google+ people, but they are solid.

  2. Bitches? BITCHES!?!?!? Why I oughta....

    Except you're right. It has been good. And wingding. A good mix of action and interaction that let's the creative juices flow for a few hours every other week.

    I do have to say, it's something I always look forward to. Thanks for putting the effort into it!

  3. TS: do you do the online gaming because you have to, or just as a seperate experience?

    Andy: Right back at ya, nibs. Couldn't have done the last three years without you.

  4. @Brunomac: I've recently moved, and one of my steady face-to-face players was 'left' behind and has no means to join us here.
    --I've run games both at a local shop, but you know how that can be, and at others' houses (as well as hosting), but I found those folks to be disingenuous. So far, the Google+ folks have proven to be more committed to the game/setting, and nicer, to boot. :)

  5. TS: I'm glad that with the move and all you still have venues for it that you enjoy (and the bad experiences make for good venting at least).

    I don't know how it would work out with me yelling at Dan Dan the Power Game Man through a computer. Half the fun is being in person with him. He's bigger and stronger than me so in person it has all the devil may care fun and excitment of train spotting or an episode of Jackass!

  6. Thanks for this. I really needed to hear someone else sing the praises of being lucky enough to find a good group of people to game with. It's not easy, not at all. I've been really really fortunate as well this year. I've been gaming pretty regularly since March with a small group of folks who are a pleasure to be around. Count those blessings, man. You never know when they'll disappear like so much smoke...

  7. Nice post. I so envy you. I have moved to UK from Italy five years ago, and for four years I did not play at all. Ten months ago I found a wonderful group of people, people who I would hang with even without gaming, and for the first time in more than 20 years I had 7 players sitting at my table, playing Classic D&D! Alas, it was not to last: we had to move again, and I lost the group. Now it has been six months since I stopped playing again, and quite frankly, I am seriously thinking of leaving the hobby for good; being a dad of a 2 yo, living in a foreign country, and having zero friends makes things really too complex :(

  8. Antonio: It'll come back out of the blue again. It's OK to say "I guess I'm done gaming for good." When I finally said that *bam* I got this group. Be patient, and also keep an eye on what is going on in your area. You may be one Andy-away from building a steady gang.