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Author Topic: Starting A Local Role-Playing Club -- Goals and Methods  (Read 2233 times)
Roy
Member

Posts: 153


« on: May 10, 2004, 04:25:01 AM »

I'm starting a local role-playing game club, as stated in these threads:
    [*]Starting A Local Role-Playing Club -- Need Advice
    [*]Starting A Local Role-Playing Club -- Need Advice on Newsletter
    [/list:u]

    In this thread, I'm posting my goals for the club and the methods I intend to use to reach them.  

    I would appreciate if you would read them then post any suggestions, additions, or corrections you may have.  I'll be glad to answer any questions you may have regarding my notes.



    GOALS AND METHODS FOR LOCAL ROLE-PLAYING CLUB

    [list=1]
    [*]Encourage people to actually play role-playing games instead of just collecting and reading them.

    How do I accomplish this?
    [list=a]
    [*]Schedule weekly events and promote them.
    [*]Encourage open play during weekly events.
    [*]Encourage existing role-players to mentor new role-players.
    [*]Suggest "protagonist play" as an alternative to traditional scenario design.  This should encourage some players to shift to a gamemaster role on occassion (due to simpler scenario preparation).
    [/list:o]

    [*]Help people who enjoy playing role-playing games network with other people who have similar tastes.

    How do I accomplish this?
    [list=a]
    [*]Post public member profiles and encourage members to contact each other directly.
    [*]Introduce new members publically during meetings.
    [*]Personally introduce people to other people that share similar interests.
    [*]Encourage people to post messages directly to our website.
    [/list:o]

    [*]Encourage people with similar tastes to form functional gaming groups.

    How do I accomplish this?
    [list=a]
    [*]Do not allow campaign-based play during club events.
    [*]Discuss social aspects and group dynamics through newsletter and website.
    [*]Encourage open communication between members.
    [/list:o]

    [*]Introduce people to role-playing games they may not know about.

    How do I accomplish this?
    [list=a]
    [*]Post links to games on website.
    [*]Mention games in newsletter.
    [*]Suggest games to people based on their interests.
    [*]Explain Creative Agendas in newsletter and suggest appropriate games for each Agenda.
    [/list:o]

    [*]Introduce new people to role-playing games in a positive way that encourages them to continue playing.

    How do I accomplish this?
    [list=a]
    [*]Create a free introductory pamphlet that can be distributed to interested people.
    [*]Feature a "what is a role-playing game" blurb in every free newsletter.
    [*]Encourage people to discuss role-playing games with new people outside of our hobby.  Teach people how to do this in a positive way.
    [/list:o]

    [*]Encourage open discussion about all aspects of role-playing games.

    How do I accomplish this?
    [list=a]
    [*]Encourage people to use the message board on website.
    [*]Post links to interesting articles on website and in newsletter.
    [*]Personally start discussions on message board.
    [/list:o]

    [*]Avoid supporting any one game over other games.  All role-playing games are valid.

    How do I accomplish this?
    [list=a]
    [*]State this explicitly.
    [*]Encourage people to try new role-playing games.
    [/list:o]

    [*]Avoid people forming insular groups that drive off outsiders with cliquish behavior.

    How do I accomplish this?
    [list=a]
    [*]State this explicitly.
    [*]Encourage all members to adopt an open and friendly manner.
    [*]Explain how this behavior hurts the entire hobby.
    [*]Do not allow campaign-based play during club events.
    [*]Privately call attention to such behavior and suggest ways to avoid it.
    [/list:o]

    [*]Avoid drawing people who just want a place to hang out, but who have no genuine interest in role-playing games.

    How do I accomplish this?
    [list=a]
    [*]State this explicitly.
    [*]Talk to people and find out what's stopping them from actually playing.
    [*]Privately call attention to such behavior and suggest ways to avoid it.
    [/list:o]

    [*]Avoid political manuevering and Machiavellian politics within the club environment.

    How do I accomplish this?
    [list=a]
    [*]State this explicitly.
    [*]Do not allow campaign-based play during club events.
    [*]Do not elect rotating club officials.
    [*]Privately call attention to such behavior and suggest ways to avoid it.
    [/list:o]

    [*]Avoid socially dysfunctional behavior that drives people away from role-playing games.

    How do I accomplish this?
    [list=a]
    [*]Do not allow flame wars or trolling on message boards.
    [*]Privately call attention to such behavior and suggest ways to avoid it.
    [/list:o]
    [/list:o]
    Logged
    Valamir
    Member

    Posts: 5574


    WWW
    « Reply #1 on: May 11, 2004, 05:00:34 AM »

    I think this list looks pretty solid.  I've had only 1 experience with a roleplaying club myself, and it turned out to be nothing more than a way for a handful of adult friends to game using campus resources and get a stipend for ostensibly including college students in the "club".  It was not a good experience.

    However, one aspect that was interesting was that Penn State had a "Free University" program which allowed student clubs (every thing from stamp collecting to spelunking...there were a couple hundred of them) access to on campus rooms, supplies, and a modest stipend for promoting extracurricular activities.  Might be worth checking into to see if any local colleges have something along those lines.


    The one thing I think is missing here is the most important part.

    What's in it for you?  This will be a tremendous amount of work and potentially a source of some frustration.  What do you hope to get out of it.  What about the experience will make it worth while for you?  How will you measure success and personal satisfaction?

    I see the club goals, and I think those are all good "mission statements" for the organization.  

    But what will you find rewarding about taking on this task?  Altruism alone won't carry you far.

    Whatever that thing is, the most important step, I think, is determining how to integrate that into your goals and methods with the club.
    Logged

    Roy
    Member

    Posts: 153


    « Reply #2 on: May 11, 2004, 05:45:51 AM »

    Hey, Ralph!

    Quote from: Valamir

    The one thing I think is missing here is the most important part.

    What's in it for you?


    There are several things that I really want to get out of the experience.  In no particular order, they are:

      [*]Find people willing to playtest my game designs.
      [*]Find people with similar tastes who want to form a gaming group.
      [*]Find other people willing to run games so I can play for a change.
      [*]Promote indie RPGs.
      [*]Find people I enjoy socializing with.
      [*]Start a convention in my area (nearest is about 2 hours away).
      [/list:u]

      I'm going into this with my eyes wide open.  I know it'll be a thankless job, often filled with conflict, but it will all be worth it if I can make a difference in the role-playing community here in Northwest Arkansas.  I love this hobby and I want to share that love with other people.

      Thanks for taking the time to respond, Ralph.  

      Roy
      Logged
      Valamir
      Member

      Posts: 5574


      WWW
      « Reply #3 on: May 11, 2004, 08:22:27 AM »

      An excellent set of goals.

      I don't have any experience in establishing a gaming club to share.  But it seems to me from a project managment perspective, that the sort of thing that would be most consistant with those goals is to start small.

      Rather than an open invite "come one, come all" approach, you may get more mileage out of a smaller group with a stated goal to experiment with alternative (indie) RPG play.  Maybe 8-12 members of whom 3-4 could be reliably set to meet at any given time for sessions where'd you'd initially GM to set the tone and introduce the titles, with the upfront expectation of rotating the GMing duties.

      I would expect that the 8-12 initial prospects would be whittled down a good bit by interest, scheduling, and chemistry to a more dedicated core of folks who at some point would all be sufficiently adept at running the sorts of games you're interested in.

      To find these people, I'd actually start by advertising for them.  Not advertising for players, or for a specific game, of course, but for "GMs, experienced and novice alike, who want to join a group dedicated to exploring and experiencing a wide range of RPGs off the beaten track; and then playing those games and teaching them to others"

      Such a group would meet most of your own personal goals and give that base of satisfaction to work from.


      From there, I'd be tempted to implement Phase II, which probably should be a stated goal of the group from the beginning.  And that would be to transform your tight group of GMs into a group of active demoers, who could go out in pairs to local game stores, campuses, etc and get people playing the games that you'd been "practicing with" during phase I.  A clever group name and some t-shirts and you could become a recognizeable group (like the folks who regularly run Cthulhu games at cons).  

      From my limited exposure to LARPs I get the impression that this is how many (if not most) LARP groups work.  A dedicated core of individuals who then together and seperately run LARP events throughout a given region.  Might be a good model to follow, and I know there are a number of LARP organizers who've been posting recently.

      This phase II aspect would be where you start to hit your ultimate group goals from your first post.  Encouraging actual play, building a network of actually playing gamers, promoting through actual play (the best kind of promotion) your favorite Indie-titles (with the side benefit of creating more players for yourself to enjoy playing with), etc.

      After having built a reputation as a group who runs great games, you could start doing small cons.  

      I do have some experience with this in helping a FLGS owner plan mini cons a few years back.  Shop around a bunch of conveniently located (both distance wise, and street access wise) hotels which have convention rooms / ballrooms available for rent.  Ask them about rates and when their least busy season is.  There will usually be some point during the year when they will rent the rooms dirt cheap.  Then rely on the networking and word of mouth that your actual play teams have generated to help promote the game day.  I'd recommend a single day 10AM till 10PM type of event (or whatever hours fall in the range for the room rental) and charge enough to recoup costs.  

      A friend of mine runs regular wargame game days like this using a donated conferance room from his place of work (he happens to work for Peter Perla, of wargame design fame, which is convenient) and its successful enough that he often has a local retailer willing to set up a table in a corner for a few hours with a selection of product to sell.  Selling snacks and beverages is another good idea, but any such sales would depend on the willingness of the venue to allow it.


      That's the order I'd try to tackle it in any way, given your goals.  I find its important for the activity to meet your goals first.  That way if it never reaches Phase II, or if Phase II doesn't work, you've still gained and benefited from the effort.
      Logged

      Mike Holmes
      Acts of Evil Playtesters
      Member

      Posts: 10459


      « Reply #4 on: May 11, 2004, 10:04:55 AM »

      Quote from: Roy
      [list=1]
      [*]Encourage people to actually play role-playing games instead of just collecting and reading them.

      How do I accomplish this?
      [list=a]
      [*]Schedule weekly events and promote them.
      [*]Encourage open play during weekly events.
      [*]Encourage existing role-players to mentor new role-players.
      [*]Suggest "protagonist play" as an alternative to traditional scenario design.  This should encourage some players to shift to a gamemaster role on occassion (due to simpler scenario preparation).
      [/list:o]
      What do you mean by "open" play? Games open to anyone who arrives? This might end up with a GM with no, or almost worse for some games, one player.

      The "protagonist" play as you've got it here seems to be a personal preference. That is, I don't know that it encurages any more play to actually occur, especially if some people don't know what it's about. That is, I think each GM should do as well as they can, and try whatever works for them. Successful play is repeat play. Don't allow your biases to drive anyone off.

      Quote
      [*]Help people who enjoy playing role-playing games network with other people who have similar tastes.

      How do I accomplish this?
      [list=a]
      [*]Post public member profiles and encourage members to contact each other directly.
      [*]Introduce new members publically during meetings.
      [*]Personally introduce people to other people that share similar interests.
      [*]Encourage people to post messages directly to our website.
      [/list:o]
      This sounds good at first, but it misses something important. Where's the social aspect. Just having a name for a person, and a list of their prefs, doesn't mean that you know them. You need to have mixers or something; some activity where people have to be social and get to know each other. That's when you'll note real connections being made, and games being set up, I'll bet.

      Social compatibility first, agenda compatibility second. With social out of the way, agenda compatibility is almost a non-issue. While people say that they prefer X or Y or Z, what they really prefer is doing any of them well, with people that they like.

      Quote
      [*]Encourage people with similar tastes to form functional gaming groups.

      How do I accomplish this?
      [list=a]
      [*]Do not allow campaign-based play during club events.
      [*]Discuss social aspects and group dynamics through newsletter and website.
      [*]Encourage open communication between members.
      [/list:o]
      Again, actual social events will take care of this one, I think. Have a sign up sheet for each GM available at the party, and require each person to note a game that they want to be in before leaving. Or something like that. That's not a committment to play, but it allows the GM to contact the person and talk them into it.

      Quote
      [*]Introduce people to role-playing games they may not know about.

      How do I accomplish this?
      [list=a]
      [*]Post links to games on website.
      [*]Mention games in newsletter.
      [*]Suggest games to people based on their interests.
      [*]Explain Creative Agendas in newsletter and suggest appropriate games for each Agenda.
      [/list:o]
      All good stuff, but remember to stay away from pigeonholing, even people doing it to themselves. The last thing you want are G, N, and S cliques that don't cross-polinate. Instead of preferences, have people list what they don't want in a game, maybe. The idea being to get them to see that they might be able to have fun in more games than they previously thought.

      Quote
      [*]Introduce new people to role-playing games in a positive way that encourages them to continue playing.

      How do I accomplish this?
      [list=a]
      [*]Create a free introductory pamphlet that can be distributed to interested people.
      [*]Feature a "what is a role-playing game" blurb in every free newsletter.
      [*]Encourage people to discuss role-playing games with new people outside of our hobby.  Teach people how to do this in a positive way.
      [/list:o]
      Eh, I'm leery. These sound hard to accomplish without coming off as "cultish." What I think is best is the last point, and just have people do recruiting of friends into games, first, club, second. That is the prospective player should feel that he's entering the activity, and not some group first. See what I'm saying?

      Quote
      [*]Encourage open discussion about all aspects of role-playing games.

      How do I accomplish this?
      [list=a]
      [*]Encourage people to use the message board on website.
      [*]Post links to interesting articles on website and in newsletter.
      [*]Personally start discussions on message board.
      [/list:o]
      Link to RPG.net, and here, and to other sites that support this stuff.

      Are you using a Yahoogroup. I highly recommend them.

      Quote
      [*]Avoid supporting any one game over other games.  All role-playing games are valid.

      How do I accomplish this?
      [list=a]
      [*]State this explicitly.
      [*]Encourage people to try new role-playing games.
      [/list:o]
      but people are going to have favorites, and run/play what they want, anyhow. I think the point above about exposure is good enough here. You don't have to proseletyze.

      Quote
      [*]Avoid people forming insular groups that drive off outsiders with cliquish behavior.

      How do I accomplish this?
      [list=a]
      [*]State this explicitly.
      [*]Encourage all members to adopt an open and friendly manner.
      [*]Explain how this behavior hurts the entire hobby.
      [*]Do not allow campaign-based play during club events.
      [*]Privately call attention to such behavior and suggest ways to avoid it.
      [/list:o]
      Seems to me that the big difficulty here is that each game sorta becomes a clique, almost automatically. That is they share an accomplishment together that the others don't. I suppose you could force people to rotate groups. But that seems a tad draconian. Hmmm.

      Quote
      [*]Avoid drawing people who just want a place to hang out, but who have no genuine interest in role-playing games.

      How do I accomplish this?
      [list=a]
      [*]State this explicitly.
      [*]Talk to people and find out what's stopping them from actually playing.
      [*]Privately call attention to such behavior and suggest ways to avoid it.
      [/list:o]
      I'm not sure this is a good idea. I mean, what's the harm, really? Do people who don't want to play prevent others from playing? You may be excluding friends of members for little reason. If they're really disinterested, and don't play, what will they be attending anyhow? If, OTOH, they want to give seminars, and not play, maybe that's OK, too?

      Quote
      [*]Avoid political manuevering and Machiavellian politics within the club environment.

      How do I accomplish this?
      [list=a]
      [*]State this explicitly.
      [*]Do not allow campaign-based play during club events.
      [*]Do not elect rotating club officials.
      [*]Privately call attention to such behavior and suggest ways to avoid it.
      [/list:o]
      I think the most important point is not to have any power to abuse. Do not collect dues (make food and space a matter of individual donation). Do as much organization as possible democratically, on-line, and where people can see it all. Nothing should happen by surprise, or by back-room deal.

      Quote
      [*]Avoid socially dysfunctional behavior that drives people away from role-playing games.

      How do I accomplish this?
      [list=a]
      [*]Do not allow flame wars or trolling on message boards.
      [*]Privately call attention to such behavior and suggest ways to avoid it.
      [/list:o]
      [/list:o]
      Also monintor social behavior in FTF events, I assume. But what happens if you have an incorriible member?

      Mike
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      Roy
      Member

      Posts: 153


      « Reply #5 on: May 12, 2004, 04:28:13 AM »

      Ralph and Mike,

      Thank you both so much for taking the time to respond to this thread.  You both make excellent points and made me think about the endeavor in new ways.

      I'll probably post again later after I've had some time to re-evaluate my goals and methods.

      Roy
      Logged
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