Wednesday, May 15, 2013

VPA-2: Make New Friends

In the last installment, I said "be a friend." In this one, I say "make new friends." You might think it sounds like contradictory advice. But it isn't, because even the best of friends can grate on each other's nerves.

Even more so, sometimes you might find yourself in a gaming rut. Maybe all of your roleplaying buddies started playing D&D 4e and you'd rather play Pathfinder. Or maybe everybody is kind of tired of you beating them at your favorite board game.

The solution: make new friends. I'm not suggesting ditching your old gaming group. But going out and discovering new game can help you appreciate what you've got at home...

...or shed light that you might be gaming with a bunch of morons and its time to move on.

Victoria Praeparatio Amat (that's Latin for "Victory Loves Preparation") is a series that explores what makes a gaming session great, and what makes them suck. This series focuses on players of RPGs, yet players of wargames and boardgames can benefit from this advice, too. Furthermore, while there's lots of advice for Game Masters out there, VPA addresses both GMs and Players. 

You might be trapped in a "gamer ghetto" and not even know it. You're miserable but you don't know why. You might be a victim of one of the Five Geek Social Fallacies, namely "Friendship Before All." You'll come to one lousy game after another because these people are your friends. Well, that's your choice.

Here's a true story:

One day a fellow GM came to me and said: "I really wish you were back in my group. You're the only one who interacted with the adventure and actually tried to figure things out. As for my players now, its like pulling teeth to get them to take action. And then they wonder why the bad guys always get the upper hand."

He was right. He had a great story going along, but none of the players were really interested in actually playing--they just, for the most part, goofed around. And, worse, every time my character did something to advance the adventure, the other players would get upset and complain how it wasn't fair. So I left the group.

I told the GM to find new players.

Three years later--
"I really wish you were back in my group..."

Gah! Find new players! Make new friends!

To hell with that kind of loyalty. Friends don't let friends attend bad games. Friends don't inflict bad games on other friends.

If you're going to be a socially mature gamer (and person, for that matter) it's psychologically healthy to go out and meet new people. Why? Because you become like the six people you hang out with the most. You pick up their bad habits and quirks because you want to fit in, even if subconsciously.

And we all know that gamers can have some pretty bad habits. There's truth in the stereotype of the terribly out-of-shape gamer with terrible body odor who gulps down a 2-liter bottle of diabetic-inducing soda who couldn't get a girlfriend even if he was rich.

But he's a nice guy, right?

Go ahead and ask your girlfriend (or almost any woman for that matter), why she doesn't like going to your favorite local gaming store. Meanwhile, I'll be laughing at Big Bang Theory when Penny encounters Captain Sweatpants at the comic shop.

If you do fit into this stereotype and don't like it, then change and meet new people. And don't do it just because I said so. Do it for yourself.

On the other hand, there's plenty of gamers out there who break the stereotype...

Still, whenever I read or hear somebody say, "I've been with the same group of gamers for the last 20 years," my first thought is: that's great. My second thought, I hope they've gamed with other people.

It's because I've known three gamers who'd gaming together for over twenty years, every week. Even though their friends had moved on long, long ago.

This is why we have conventions. This is why there's now social networking sites. There's lot of other stuff going on out there, new people to meet, new opportunities to enjoy and stay young at heart.

Don't risk getting stuck in a "gamer ghetto." Make new friends.

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