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Author Topic: Roleplaying as a place to pick up chicks  (Read 4486 times)
sirogit
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Posts: 503


« on: February 15, 2004, 04:37:51 PM »

To clarify abit, I'm thinking of the possibility of a roleplaying game/environment designed as a place that adults can meet people, with an emphasis for the possibility of a sexual companion. My desired model would be like an upscale nightclub or a friendly but hip hangout, not a pick-up bar. Pick-up bars turn alot of people off, including myself, because the environment has a heavy basis against making lasting connections to anyone, paticularly sexual companions.

First off, I'd say there's obvious a precedent for this, looking at the SCA, which has a high amount of sexual activity. I would question if this is the sort of "friendly, possible to extend to a lasting relationship" sexual activity, but it's there. Perhaps less than what some people claim, but still.

There's alot of stigma iniatiilly attached to the idea. Roleplaying, as a somewhat disdained social activity, falls into the same holes as chatrooms, where it can be socially acceptable it most cultures to dive into and be weird in, but relationships formed out of are looked at as somehow wrong. I'd say to a degree, online relationships have a natural impediment to being functional due to the fact that they do not nessecarily require any actual knowledge about the person, neither do they nessecitate physical desire to iniate. The right roleplaying environment however, could work around this.

And then there's the undesirable element. I would have to admit it's present, but I'm not sure how anymore than typical social environments. In the gaming campus group I used to frequent, it has about 30 regular members, 3 of which I've known for a fact to be, for lack of a better term, "Hardcore stalker types", that is, they tend to continually press sexual/romantic advancement on a number of people, despite their blatant rejection, occasinaly in threatening manners. I've known several people driven away from the group because of instances of such.

On the otherhand, in the extended social groups I hang out with, among about 30 people, there's maybe 1 person that I would classify as a "Hardcore stalker type", so it's not all that different.

From iniatial inspection, I would say that the roleplaying games that seem the "sexiest" are also the most personal, and usually require few players to GM-ratio. I would say that LARPS hold alot of advantages over Tabletop games for the purposes of this model, because

A) They involve people being seen, acting, etc, not being imagined.

B) They support large amounts of people.

C) They provide a good method for people to act on sexual intereasts in a way that is not overtly sexual. Dancing has this quality. You can get close/touch people in the context of the game, and it wouldn't nessecarily be uncomfortable if the feelings are not exchanged or become overly awkward in a social setting.

D)Excuse to dress up.

The reason I've felt LARPS I've observed wern't overly sexually attractive and a failing point contrasted with my tabletop expiereince is a key point of why I think RPGs can be a sexier social setting than vanilla gatherings: It's not the fact that you can look impressive, be rich, powerfull, etc etc, any fundamentals of being someone else, it's the fact that you can be  who you are , in an Intense enviroment, which is just harder to achieve in your average social enviroment.

Comments?
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james_west
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« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2004, 05:41:49 PM »

Hello, Sirogit,

Interesting thoughts. You'd think I'd have something relevant to say about them, given that I met my wife at a convention game (of All Flesh Must Be Eaten, at that.) However, I think it was the social dynamic outside the game that worked in my favor, not anything that took place in the game itself (some of the other folks there had read an article I'd written recently, and were discussing it with some enthusiasm, which put me in a socially advantageous position).

OK - in order for something to work properly as a pick-up activity, it needs to involve the ability to meet a wide range of different people. Tabletop RPGs have the disadvantage that, even at a campus club or game store, you rapidly break up into very small groups, and don't interact with anyone else present.

Next, there's the gender balance issue; a proper pick-up activity needs to have a roughly equal balance. The 1:5 ratio that, I suppose, has been established for players of the age at which one normally engages in such things is very poorly conducive to use for this purpose (don't know what the ratios are like for LARP, or Vampire type games).

Finally, there's the issue of needing a game that highlights your own character, rather than hiding it.

So ... I'd say that to design a goal to achieve this end, you'd:

(1) Need to make it involve a large number of people. This isn't necessarily a LARP; a friend of mine in Atlanta, Frank Branham (I think he actually designed the first LARP rules for Vampire) designed some clever high-player games that didn't seem like traditional LARPs. One was essentially a trading game, with 40 players in it when I played. You were trading both stocks, and information about which stocks were valuable.

(2) Need something to draw enough women to achieve rough parity. How you'd do this, I'm not sure.

(3) Need something that would allow enough personal interaction and exposition of character in order to allow one to get a decent idea of the others' personality.

I have very little idea, at this point, how you achieve these three design goals.

- James
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Callan S.
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« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2004, 06:20:24 PM »

Quote
Finally, there's the issue of needing a game that highlights your own character, rather than hiding it.


This doesn't need to be done directly though. You could simply give a description of a character (perhaps a stereotype), they try and portray it and then the system keeps asking the player what they think of that character to be verbalised. People don't talk about themselves casually, but they would be pretty happy to talk about a character/character type. And you can tell a lot about a person by what they think of a certain character type and/or how they think it would be portrayed.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Doctor Xero
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Posts: 433


« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2004, 07:04:24 PM »

I've known a number of people have who dated fellow players, but those were always in groups for which RPG playing was simply one of a number of shared hobbies.

Doctor Xero
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"The human brain is the most public organ on the face of the earth....virtually all the business is the direct result of thinking that has already occurred in other minds.  We pass thoughts around, from mind to mind..." --Lewis Thomas
clehrich
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« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2004, 08:05:24 PM »

Quote from: james_west
Next, there's the gender balance issue; a proper pick-up activity needs to have a roughly equal balance. The 1:5 ratio that, I suppose, has been established for players of the age at which one normally engages in such things is very poorly conducive to use for this purpose (don't know what the ratios are like for LARP, or Vampire type games).
Admittedly, it might work extra-well for women to pick up men, if they're interested.  I mean, they'd sort of have their pick.
Quote
Finally, there's the issue of needing a game that highlights your own character, rather than hiding it.
This one I don't see as necessary, although I take your point.  Fundamentally, you learn a lot about someone from how he or she plays at being someone else.  As players, we always have at least two levels of consciousness active; this is one of the things that bugs extreme immersionists, but it's clearly true of almost everyone.  So long as you can look at the game both through your own eyes and through those of your character (assuming the latter is desirable in a given game), I think everyone gets a pretty good sense of each other as people.  I suppose a game that doesn't emphasize immersion might be helpful.
Quote
(1) Need to make it involve a large number of people.
This would certainly be the biggie.  I could see an "event" in which everyone did a whole bunch of very short games, swapping players around.  Along the way, people would also swap telephone numbers (or room numbers, if at a convention).

While you're at it, you could just have a whole bunch of gaming "booths" and then a big sort of cocktail bar in the middle.  People swap cards or table numbers or whatever, then meet in between games.  I mean, if this is a singles event, the idea is that everyone plays games in order to get relatively close to desirable others, and then they get together in an equally accepted forum to talk one-on-one.  With luck, they then go back to somebody's room and {this post censored from here--D. Rumsfeld}, hee hee.

Chris Lehrich
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Chris Lehrich
John Kim
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« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2004, 10:58:27 PM »

Quote from: sirogit
From iniatial inspection, I would say that the roleplaying games that seem the "sexiest" are also the most personal, and usually require few players to GM-ratio. I would say that LARPS hold alot of advantages over Tabletop games for the purposes of this model, because

A) They involve people being seen, acting, etc, not being imagined.

B) They support large amounts of people.

C) They provide a good method for people to act on sexual intereasts in a way that is not overtly sexual. Dancing has this quality. You can get close/touch people in the context of the game, and it wouldn't nessecarily be uncomfortable if the feelings are not exchanged or become overly awkward in a social setting.

D)Excuse to dress up.

The reason I've felt LARPS I've observed wern't overly sexually attractive and a failing point contrasted with my tabletop expiereince is a key point of why I think RPGs can be a sexier social setting than vanilla gatherings: It's not the fact that you can look impressive, be rich, powerfull, etc etc, any fundamentals of being someone else, it's the fact that you can be who you are , in an Intense enviroment, which is just harder to achieve in your average social enviroment.

In my experience, many LARPs are exactly what you say.  The April '95 issue of "Swing" magazine had a cover story by Douglas Rushkoff billed as "Necking in the 90's: The New 20-Something Social Scene".  It begins with this:
Quote
The isolation of a computer-driven lifestyle and an ever-present fear of AIDS have spawned a new generation of vampires.  They're part of a live-action, role-playing game that may be the fastest growing social scene since the rave.

This certainly fits with my experience of vampire LARPs in Chicago, where there were regular sessions at the nightclub Excalibur downtown.  My impression from friends is that many fantasy LARPs (primarily played outdoors, like NERO or NERO West) also have a singles mixer side to them -- albeit with a different crowd.  

I don't think you can design a game too explicitly as a singles scene.   Games have to be fun on their own, or they become at best meat markets or more like simply don't work.
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- John
S'mon
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Posts: 126


« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2004, 03:31:21 AM »

Quote from: sirogit
To clarify abit, I'm thinking of the possibility of a roleplaying game/environment designed as a place that adults can meet people, with an emphasis for the possibility of a sexual companion...


Don't you have a girlfriend already?  :)

Personally I like the lack of sexual tension in my mixed-gender group.  I'm sure LARPs and SCA are a good way to meet people, but having that be not-the-point is probably what makes them attractive.  Once you make any explicit statement about the purpose being to pick people up you heavily skew the dynamics of the group interaction.  Likewise I think players with sexual relationships at the table can cause problems, especially with longer term campaigns - girlfriend player as GM's pet only the most obvious example.
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Walt Freitag
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Posts: 1039


« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2004, 05:46:16 AM »

Quote from: S'mon
Likewise I think players with sexual relationships at the table can cause problems, especially with longer term campaigns - girlfriend player as GM's pet only the most obvious example.


Especially when she's not the GM's girlfriend :)

For what it's worth, I can confirm the efficacy of LARPs (in my case, the 80s and very early 90s SIL-style indoor LARPs run primarily at SF cons, pre-Vampire days) as hookup venues. More than half of my closest friends' marriages (and my own) were LARP meetings and/or LARP courtships. And a much higher percentage if you look only at the happy non-divorcey ones.

It's possible that the LARP is not only a good practical place to meet people, it's also an ideal built-in first date for you and the newly-met person. This idea came from a Discovery Channel show (no, not the highest academically credentialed source, but still...) a few years ago that examined ten features of the "ideal" first date, "ideal" in the sense of more likely to nudge people (who don't already know each other well) into a closer relationship. As I recall, at least seven of the ten characteristics were notable features of most of the LARPs I'd run and played in, including "novelty," "fantasy," "risk or simulated risk," "shared problem-solving," "mystery," and "humor." (The only one I can recall that didn't apply, for our kind of LARP anyway, was "exercise.") Little did we know back then that we'd been enticing our friends and strangers alike into such dangerous, powerful relationship machines! (Surely that's what accounts for all those marriages, and the fact that our friends were mostly in their mid-late-20s at the time had nothing to do with it!)

- Walt
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Wandering in the diasporosphere
Doctor Xero
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Posts: 433


« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2004, 01:46:34 PM »

I have had gaming friends who have brought their girlfriends/boyfriends to games early on in the relationship, telling the sweetheart, "This is something I enjoy, this is the sort of person I am, and I want you to know."  The times I've witnessed this, it has always strengthened the relationship.

Doctor Xero
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"The human brain is the most public organ on the face of the earth....virtually all the business is the direct result of thinking that has already occurred in other minds.  We pass thoughts around, from mind to mind..." --Lewis Thomas
Christopher Weeks
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Posts: 683


« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2004, 07:45:48 PM »

Quote from: sirogit
To clarify abit, I'm thinking of the possibility of a roleplaying game/environment designed as a place that adults can meet people, with an emphasis for the possibility of a sexual companion. My desired model would be like an upscale nightclub or a friendly but hip hangout, not a pick-up bar. Pick-up bars turn alot of people off, including myself, because the environment has a heavy basis against making lasting connections to anyone, paticularly sexual companions.


I started reading this thinking you were talking about fooling around and getting laid and then eneded up thinking that you meant finding a spouse.  So, I wonder how different the approach to these goals should be.  And too, what differences from the base ideas are desirable/practicable/necessary if the goals include the construction of sexual relationships with a nature that is more exotic than m-f monogamous coupling?

What I'm wondering most, right now, is whether a game could reward or incent flirtatious behavior without just being stupid.  And how far could you push this idea?  I know of parties attended by adults (just fairly normal folks) in which sophomoric sexual games (spin the bottle, the thing where two people are shut in a closet for five minutes, etc.) are played under the banner of "retro" goofing off or something.  

I'm also assuming that most people would find it kind of creepy if it were overt.  What's the market for such an event?

Chris
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AnyaTheBlue
Member

Posts: 187


« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2004, 08:14:23 PM »

Hurm.

I can't help but think that this is a disaster waiting to happen...

I think you've done a good job of working out what the inherent weaknesses of a dating venue vs. a typical gaming experience are, though.

About the only thing I can really add to what's already been said would be this:

Your description of speed dating really reminds me of a Convention Scenario, where you have pregenerated characters and a preset adventure, and you have many smallish groups running different stages of the game, and then everybody keeping the same role (ie, pregen character or GM) and swapping tables and partners for the next stage of the scenario.

The other thing that occurs to me is that most RPGs have characters who are staunch allies of one another fighting an NPC foe.  It might make sense to somehow make the game focus on player character rivalry as opposed to the NPC-vs-Party kind of setup that seems to prevail in most games.  I'm not entirely sure how you'd do this, but I think increasing the player interaction would enhance the "getting to know one another through conflict" kind of aspects.  Maybe something like Illuminati's 'unique goals' that would allow the players to scheme with one another to achieve their own secret agendas, allowing team-building inter-player drama to the whole thing.

I think that either Munchkin (which I've played with non-gamers who enjoyed it anyway) or Dungeoneer might work far better than an RPG, though.  They're pick-up card games, but I think the randomized structure and the ability to run a game 'GM-less' really makes it a more suitable kind of game for date-seeking.

Still, it's nice to see someone taking on a unique challenge =)
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Dana Johnson
Note that I'm heavily medicated and something of a flake.  Please take anything I say with a grain of salt.
Walt Freitag
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Posts: 1039


« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2004, 08:49:11 PM »

Quote from: Christopher Weeks
I started reading this thinking you were talking about fooling around and getting laid and then eneded up thinking that you meant finding a spouse.  So, I wonder how different the approach to these goals should be.


You out-of-control kids have it all wrong. It's first comes love, then comes marriage, then you have sex. Um, right?

Quote
What I'm wondering most, right now, is whether a game could reward or incent flirtatious behavior without just being stupid.  And how far could you push this idea?  I know of parties attended by adults (just fairly normal folks) in which sophomoric sexual games (spin the bottle, the thing where two people are shut in a closet for five minutes, etc.) are played under the banner of "retro" goofing off or something.  

I'm also assuming that most people would find it kind of creepy if it were overt.  What's the market for such an event?


The Arabian Nights LARP introduced a card game called Congress, invented by Andrew and Kristen Looney, the folks who now run Looney Labs. (Those are their real names, honest.) It's a completely abstract but at the same time surprisingly explicit simulation of sex. I forget some of the details, but the main rules are: A man and a woman play. Each has a supply of standard playing cards (numbers only, no court cards), which differs between individuals depending on their Prowess stat and other factors. During each turn, they simultaneously choose and then reveal a card. (The magnitude of a card played represents, roughly, the degree of vigor exhibited by that player.) The smaller card is subtracted from the larger, and that difference is subtracted from the smaller. The result, positive or negative, is added to a running total. If a certain total is reached, both players win. If the result of each of three consecutive rounds exceeds a certain number, the man wins. If the game goes ten rounds before either of these has happened, the woman wins. If either player runs out of cards before any of these has happened, they both lose. The woman gets her cards back immediately; if the man wins, the cards he expended are turned in to a GM and can be regained gradually over time.

This beats the sophomoric bottle-spinning games all to hell. With a little imagination (which if you haven't got, you're probably not playing in a LARP in the first place) it can be really sexy. Yet you can play it right in front of the eight-year-olds (that is, you'd still be considered perverts inside the game world, but no one gets harmed or emotionally scarred in the real world).

- Walt
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Wandering in the diasporosphere
Doctor Xero
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Posts: 433


« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2004, 11:05:45 AM »

Quote from: Walt Freitag
I forget some of the details, but the main rules are: A man and a woman play.


< laughter > Should I move this over to our sexism thread to consider alternate versions which aren't heterosexist? ;-)

Doctor Xero
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"The human brain is the most public organ on the face of the earth....virtually all the business is the direct result of thinking that has already occurred in other minds.  We pass thoughts around, from mind to mind..." --Lewis Thomas
Scourge108
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« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2004, 11:16:18 AM »

Personally, I try to keep my dating life and my gaming life as seperate as possible.  Both become more enjoyable that way.
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Greg Jensen
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2004, 11:46:59 AM »

Hello,

This thread is turning into an opinion-fest. Sirogit, you've done a good job of trying to focus it, but it's come to the time to close it unless you want to provide a much more specific inquiry or principle to discuss.

Everyone else, please let Sirogit respond with either "continue, focusing on X," or "close it."

Best,
Ron
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