Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Pusher's Dilemma

I host all of my RPG sessions online, through meetup.com, in the Arlington-Alexandria Regional Gaming Group (AARGG!) This group is a general gaming group; in fact, I believe I am the only one who ever schedules RPG sessions. The majority of the meetups are boardgame-oriented. When I go to those boardgame meetups, I often hear from people "Oh, you're that guy who's always posting role-playing games!"

So the question is, why schedule games on a meetup group not exclusively for RPGs? In the Northern Virginia/D.C. area alone, there are dozens, maybe even a hundred or more, RPG meetup groups. And they're dedicated to just about every genre or combination of genres imaginable, not to mention whole groups dedicated to specific games. So why is my first choice for organizing events a group that is primarily boardgames?

The answer, as I've aluded to in past entries, is that my primary focus are new players. I want to share this hobby of mine with the world. I want to suck in as many people as possible. I want everyone to know just how wildly creative and outrageously fun a good role-playing game can be. Hosting on an RPG meetup group is just preaching to the choir. I want new converts. I want to be the best damn ambassador to this hobby that I can possibly be.

So that's why I post on the AARGG. It's also why I agonize over game selection. Given my goals of bringing newbs into the fold, I often have to make some hard decisions about the games I choose to play. Take Warhammer Fantasy Role-play (WFRP), for example. WFRP is probably one of the best fantasy RPGs I've ever seen. It's almost unfair how good it is, because clearly publisher Fantasy Flight Games just threw wads of cash at the game's developers, and it's hard not to make a good game with that kind of support. I've shelled out a truly horrifying amount of money just to get set up with WFRP. Yet I haven't been able to get a group to the table for it. How do you pitch this game to new players in a way that's exciting and intriguing? Worse yet, most people out there associate Warhammer with the wargame. So even though WFRP is about as far away from a miniatures game as you can imagine, many people associate the game with that, and so are not interested.

This wouldn't be an issue if I simply went to an RPG meetup group and posted there, but that's simply not what I do. Instead, I have to consider D&D. I love D&D, but in a sense, D&D is like the Apple of fantasy role-playing games: a lot of its appeal is not necessarily the quality, but the brand. Hardcore RPG gamers will scoff at the notion of playing D&D because it's popular, but that's not something I can ignore. I can post a Warhammer group on the AARGG site and be lucky if I get two or three people interested...or I can post a D&D meetup and have all seven slots filled within 24 hours.

So I've got this tug of war always going on in my head...play what I want to play and stuggle to put butts in the seats, or play what's popular and pack the house. The best answer, of course, is to play what I want, and hype the damn thing so much that people come running to it. So that's what I try to do.

How do I do that? How do I take an indie game like, say, Apocalypse World, or even a mainstream game that just doesn't have a strong following, like WFRP, and fill the community room with enthusiastic gamers? Well, I've developed a few ideas on that concept, but I'll talk about them in a later entry. If any of you out there have any suggestions, I would love to hear them!


5 comments:

  1. Its the AARGGH. Nity pick, but its my nipick. We are here:
    www.meetup.com/AARGGH

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  2. ah, that's right, I forgot...the H stands for "homey."

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    1. The "H" is silent, and stands for either: human, hordes, hordelings, hunters, or whatever it needs to. We needed a sixth letter to get a url.

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  3. Also, you've identified a lot of the reasons i love the AARGGH. So long as its a game, the AARGGH's official policy says it can be played.

    But, yeah, there's this always and constant struggle -- do i play new games that push people, or oldies that i know'll fill? At melees, I typically go for the oldies, as those are -- for me -- more about finding new people than finding new games. Once I know I've got people I like to game with, then the experimentation begins.

    Or, maybe I'm just conservative in my game choices.

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