The Addictive Traits of New Gamers

Since the start of the new year, I have been inaugurating my coworkers into the world of Shadowrun.  Most had never played an RPG in their lives before trying their luck with me.  The results have been nothing short of amazing (in my opinion at any rate).  From cautious interest with the idea, to mild investment after building characters to wholehearted fans as we’ve got a few adventures under our belts.  The eagerness and excitement these people have over the game has rekindled my passion for the game in a way that’s been absent for a while now, even though I hadn’t noticed that drive’s fading until it had been rekindled.

I’ve been asking myself why that might be the case.  After all, I still love Shadowrun.  I love the setting, the latest mechanics… it is still my all-time favourite game.  So why had my interest been waning over the past few months?  I can only think that the renewed interest has to do with the new minds at the table.  For the same reason I love running the game at conventions, it’s appealing that the people I game with at the office are seeing everything with new eyes.  I’ve been GMing Shadowrun for over a decade now and many of my players have been with me for a good many of those years.  No matter what I do, no matter the opposition, no matter the challenge, they are numb to anything I make.  There is never that wonder, or that moment of “Wow that was cool” any more.  Only a new blank obstacle for them to overcome.

New players see the grand scope of things and are still trying to figure out what works in the setting, taking everything in to try and see the overall picture.  I can almost connect the dots as to what my regular players will do now (the standard is to come up with the most unorthodox plan and use their now-insane abilities to make that happen).  Some of the characters in our game have been around for a long time and it’s nearly impossible for me to challenge them any more.  As a GM, I see my job as an entertainer, to ensure everyone has a good time.  However, as these characters get stronger and harder to challenge, I fear adventures become stale.  At the same time, there is a high level of attachment to these long-time characters and I never want to tell my players that their characters must retire either.  At what point do I have to tell people that the game is no longer enjoyable for me to run, as nothing I do makes them flinch?

I wouldn’t trade my regulars for anything.  I have a great group of friends as a result of this hobby of mine and whenever I get together with new players, either at work or at a con, I get to see a side of people that perhaps not many others have seen.  There is something to be said for seeing how people act when under the guise of an avatar.  More often than not, you get a true sense of how truly awesome people are when people gather around the table, enjoy the company of others, whether long time friends or new acquaintances, laugh and work together to tell a high-adventure story.  I know that I derive so much enjoyment from these games, that I love when I can introduce new people to the hobby and it resonates with them as well.

In any case, I’m rambling at this point.  I guess where I’m heading on this meandering road is this:  I love GMing new players.  the wonder and that sense of exploration.  How do I recapture this with long time players that I feel have become jaded toward all of my hard work and effort to entertain them week after week?  If you have thoughts or ideas, I’d love to hear them.

Thanks for reading, everyone.

J.

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~ by 1nsomniac on April 20, 2012.

17 Responses to “The Addictive Traits of New Gamers”

  1. New blood always revives a gaming group, I’ve found.

    • I agree. The trick of course is the sheer size of my group already. I have somewhere in the range of 8-10 players (though not all of them make it to every game). Adding more bodies to an already large group may make the table difficult to manage.

      That aside, I have been tempted to begin recruiting players again, solely for that purpose.

      • 8-10 is a massive group! Most group work is best done in groups of 4-6, studies show — from corporate environment, to fire teams in the military, to terrorist cells — above six becomes unmanageable (in the case of gaming groups, you have less “screen time” for the characters and it becomes hard to manage events); below four (including GM) and any absence can put the kybosh on a session and relationships between players become sometimes too comfortable and the play becomes stilted.

      • Despite the group size, I have five players that regularly make it out, so I do have a core group of players. The trick is now that characters were all created in vacuum, rather than having any form of synergy. I may propose creating a new team of players, whose skills compliment one another. Plus, by starting over, I might be able to challenge them once more.

        I suppose we’ll see…

  2. I say give it a shot. If it helps you feel excited about running the game again then I find that excitement tends to spread to the group as well. Plus your regulars are generally a pretty understanding bunch.

    One thing though, I’d suggest cutting out the “character roster” option. Starting each game with the question “So who is everyone running tonight?” just kills any sense of continuity for me.

    • Yeah, that whole practice began out of each character being built in a vacuum and having a lot of skill crossover. I’m hoping we can correct that going forward.

  3. If you can recruit, what about a “sign up”. You send out the email to announce the game for the week, and whomever responds first has a seat reserved at the table. All others are on standby and are welcome to come over, but they may be entertaining in the living room, unless we have a no show, which has happened a few times of late.

    Just a thought from your loving wife who gets to feel all the tension from everyone every week and still doesn’t want to play when it just feels like everyone is on everyone’s last nerve!!

    • I do like the idea of a sign-up, but unfortunately not everyone responds to the same means. We have those who only respond to emails, those who are more likely to see it on Facebook… there isn’t one consistent means to which everyone consistently responds to.

      I don’t want to become the game Nazi about it either… “No game for you!”

  4. I find with our work group we also have an interesting dynamic of people who have never played RPGs before. Our stumbling over learning the basics tends to make for great jokes and it’s a laugh-and-learn experience. It’s been an excellent stress reducer.

    • Indeed fresh eyes and new experiences helps add to the enthusiasm. I think that’s what’s so inspiring about the whole experiment. 🙂

  5. You recieve the messages, you can say who responded first by timeline. But I see the concern. Often no response is given for some and then they show. BD is a given. He let’s us know when he’s not coming! lol

  6. I think a changing of the guard approach might do wonders for your long-term group, and add depth to an already well-developed setting. Having the players generate newer, younger characters that are hungrier and far more willing to take risks and work for peanuts, while still knowing that their big movers and shakers are still out there could open up a lot of opportunities and dramatic doors. You might even get some of the original characters to start working as fixers and Misters Johnson themselves~
    😉

    No one has to retire, some can be involved as patrons, mentors, and inspirations, but the challenge, and freshness can be reintroduced.

    • I wholeheartedly agree. That process has already begun. We gathered for a game last night (the third of the Dawn of the Artifacts games) and discussed where we want the game to go. We’re going to generate a new team of runners, with good, in-depth backgrounds and all players are going to try something new, so no one will merely be rebranding their old characters.

      I’m hopeful that this will rekindle interest on my part so I might keep the story moving. I will still try to throw together high-powered games for the old guard, but it will be nice working with some fresh faces.

  7. Hi where at the comic con? My friend and I met a GM and we would be really interested to join your games, so whenever you are down to 3 players, do get in touch with us. I have never played but I’d like to think of myself as someone with an active imagination and let’s say there are more fantasy books on my shelves than any other genre. Plus my friend has played the game so maybe we could shake the complacency out of the old players?
    Let us know – pls email me on m30051981@hotmail.com

    • I wasn’t at the Comic Con this year. I usually run events at the Toronto FanExpo, but I don’t think I’ll be able to attend it this year. If you think you can make it out to the east end of the city, I run open events at a local comic/game store in Oshawa called Worlds Collide. (My next event is May 6th). They’re open to anyone who wants to play and you can bring your own character (or use one of my pre-gens).

      If I find myself short on players, I can fire an email. 🙂

      J.

  8. Tsk tsk, I’m going to have all sorts of fun at fan expo this year without you? I’ll send pictures!

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