I was recently relating this story to a guy over on BoardGameGeek, but he said he’s a young budding gamer who really doesn’t have that many opportunities to play games and doesn’t know what to do. I told him that he’s at that point in his life where he can really set himself up for some amazing adventures if he’s willing to put himself out there. As proof, I told him how I set up the primary gaming group that I had for most of my life.
Back when I was, say, 16 or 17, back in the early 80s, I really had nobody to play with. I had been gaming casually at the local comic-type shop where I had been introduced to D&D, but it was usually playing with older people and it was more of a “show up and if anyone is starting a game, jump in” kind of thing. I was very active on local BBSes at the time and I ended up meeting this guy named Rob who lived about 20 miles away and was really into all kinds of games, from roleplaying to boardgaming. I’ve talked about him in the past, his brother was a huge Napoleonics and miniature gamer who eventually opened a gaming store not that far from where I currently live, although his addiction to gaming ended up ruining his marriage and driving himself out of business after about 10 years because he was more interested in playing games than selling them.
So anyhow, we ended up meeting in person and found out that we had a ton of things in common. He was into gaming, I was into gaming. He was into anime, I was into anime. He was into comic books, I was into comic books. I was more into furry and conventions and kind of got him into that and he was more into gaming conventions and we went to those together, it was a lot of fun. Of course, with just the two of us, it was hard getting many games played so we started adding new people. He had a childhood friend named John who, while not much of a gamer, wanted to hang out and so got into it a little bit. I had met some other people online, including Charles, who would go on to be one of my lifelong best friends and slowly, we built up a band of 8-10 people who rotated into and out of the group over the years, some stuck around for years, others for a matter of months, but it was always interesting and there were a core group of 5-6 of us that were almost always there. That included John (a different John) who would eventually become my brother-in-law. I even met my future wife, his sister, at the gaming group, she decided to jump in and play some games and the rest is history.
Now I don’t write this because I want to toot any horns or spill my personal beans or anything like that. As anyone who has been reading my blogs for any amount of time knows, I tend to keep the details of my personal life pretty private, but I told this guy all of this to encourage him to put himself out there. Sure, it’s a risk. At the time I did it, I had never done anything like that before, to meet someone you only knew online through a couple of posts (this is before e-mail), that’s a risk, but I did it and it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. I’d argue that this one decision shaped my entire life in many ways. It’s through that one event that a lot of good friends and good times came into my life. Sure, I’m not friends with all of them anymore but many of them I am and had I not taken that step, I never would have met my wife and I never would have had a lot of the opportunities that I’ve had over the years.
So if you’re out there, wondering what to do and afraid to take any chances to expand your gaming horizons, I encourage you to take that leap of faith and reach out to your local gaming community and see if you can make a gaming connection. It might not work out the first time but don’t get discouraged, sooner or later you’re going to find a group of people that you really fit in with and who you can form a life-long bond. You never know what kind of opportunities you might find by trying, or maybe worse yet, what kind of opportunities you might never find if you don’t.
Try. What do you have to lose?