Reach out to potential Gamers


My girlfriend Jai has been trying to understand this whole “roleplaying thing” that I’m into. She wanted to watch me play it, but I don’t currently have a group, and we all know that watching a game being played is boring as hell.

So I sat her down, made a character with her, and threw her on a modern day sci fi/horror adventure based off of the novel Stinger by Robert R. McCammon (great one shot adventure).

My girl has only played a couple of sessions under her belt so far, but the addiction is subtly setting in. She’s already looking forward to the next session. She wants to know what happens next. My evil plan is working nicely…

But you guys don’t wanna know about all that. What you DO want to hear about is the rather remarkable idea that Jai had.

Jai had recently read in the New York Times that due to the recession, people are shying away from past-times that require money. Movies, going out for dinner, dancing, whatever. People are staying home more because they can’t afford to go out.

So they sit at home and watch movies or TV, and we all know that there are only three or four shows on TV worth watching anymore.

Families with children 12 on up are especially affected. When you can barely put food on the table, you’re not gonna give your kids an allowance and right now, they can’t even get a job at McDonalds.

So what you have is a ready made group of gamers who are aching to have something to do in their free time that doesn’t cost money.

Jai’s idea was to teach people to play roleplaying games for money.

She believes that families would be willing to pay to learn how to role play and wrote out a curriculum and everything. Not only that, but she believes that colleges may ad roleplaying as a creditable class, much like creative writing.

Teaching someone to roleplay is fairly simple.

Session 1: Character creation.
Session 2: Review character, begin adventure.
Session 3-7: Review what happened in previous session, spend experience points, play.
Session 8: End adventure and Wrap up. Discuss what happened, what they liked, and what to look forward to.

That’s eight sessions, $20 each, spread out over eight weeks. Anyone can learn to play a game in that amount of time.

Jai also added in the fact that there could be differing courses. Beginner’s Roleplaying. Advanced. Learning to Run a Game. World Design…

Four courses, each with eight sessions spread out over two months.

She wants to make a business out of this. And this is a girl who had never heard of roleplaying a month ago.

Jai asked me what it cost to play a game. I told her that a player really only needs dice, something to hold them in, a pencil, and a notebook.

But the Gamemaster needs books, and they cost about $20 a pop.

If you think about it, you could set someone up with a game like GURPS which needs 3D6 and the 3rd ed Basic Book in order to play. That’s it. And since there is now a 4th ed, 3rd ed is pretty cheap.

I thought that this is an idea that bears merit. After all, we can always use more gamers in the world, right?

I’ll give you an update on this in a month or two. In the meantime, feel free to try this out where you live.

Have a great day!

Sorry about the choppiness. Wrote this at 0350 in the morning at work. Not productive to coherent writing...

lol this sounds really interesting. I think you've got something here. You could really advertise this as a free thing, too, just to get people interested. That could give you that group you've been looking for...

Yeah, you would start out with a base system like GURPS or D&D, and then, perhaps offer a second course, this being Advanced Roleplaying, in which you look at other games, particularly indie games, introducing them to other ways of playing and "schools of thought" in gaming. Also, at the end, you could invite those you like to your own games.

You might wanna make sure you include group formation in your curriculum so that once they've left the class, if they're still interested, they can know how to find people or create their own groups. Perhaps, using this, you could create a list of contacts they could use to organize games. This sounds like an excellent way to build up a roleplaying community where you live.

How would you advertise this though? The Classifieds?

Thinking of putting up flyers at colleges, book stores, and maybe even Craig's List. That and word of mouth.

As for groups, I'm interested mostly in targeting families with children ages 12+. That way I can pitch this as a family gathering, bringing families closer through game play. The bonus to this is that you have a ready made group. I LOVED playing with my wife and our friends while our children played together. Once our kids get older, they'll join the game. My daughter was already being as helpful as she could by rolling dice and getting drinks for everyone (and she was six!).

Parents are always looking for things to do with their children (or they should be). This is fun, exciting, interactive entertainment that allows for moral lessons to be taught, problem solving, and promotes communication.

All good stuff...

Nice idea. I've always thought thht for those of us that are really *good* at this that there ought to be a way to make a bit of scratch off it. I recently lost a girl of 11 years...and so I'm in the process of writing an article about getting the players you really *want* for the campaign that you really *want* to run...rather than just the players you found at the game store, or the guys you've been playing with since high school (who may or may not be interested in the campaign idea you're into now). Not to mention my recent push towards story above all, and getting the "game" out of it a little further. I firmly believe the roleplayers of the future are not the gamers of the present.

There may be some tie ins between this idea and that article...any objections to me mentioning this?

Go for it dude. I know how hard it is to find people that play the games that you wanna play, or tell the story that you wanna tell. It's a lot like those commercials or whatever in the movie theaters that state "It takes a lot of calls to make a movie, but only one to ruin it." The dude writes a script for a movie about Jack the Ripper, it gets picked up, and then all these idiots wanna change it. Make a more family friendly Jack the Ripper. Wait! Make it a musical! Jack the RAPPER! WTF ever...

That's how roleplaying goes sometimes though. I wanna run a serious, realistic, gritty campaign, and I get one douchebag who wants to play a gay gnome who designs naughty lingerie for men in a medeivel fantasy setting. For example.

So ya, your article fits with this idea. Feel free to incorporate as much as you want.

My only thought on reading this is that it would be a mistake to only teach one game. Every college course I took involved at least 3 or 4 titles. I would be more interested in this course if it cycled through at least three games of different types and genres.

In a college setting, that would work perfectly. However, here I m talking about simply teaching people how to play within 8 short (2-3 hour) meetings over a 2 month span. Ideally, you would want a game that can be picked up and taught easily, with as few dice as possible, which allows for different kinds of games.

GURPS is prolly the best game for this. GURPS requires 3D6. That's it. The rules can be as simple or complex as desired, allowing gamers to progress on their own. The system is universal, allowing for any genre or type of game wanted and has a HUGE library of supplements on everything from Ancient Greece to Martial Arts to building space ships. The rules are intuitive, logical, and easily understood.

And I can teach someone how to play it within one or two sessions. I've done it before.

So I've decided to go with GURPS. If I did an advanced course, I'd add in WHite Wolf (prolly Exalted), Shadowrun, and Boot Hill (if I could find a copy) for variety.

Just a few things to add:

As Tzuriel said, I'd make the first lesson free to attract customers. Second, 20$ sounds a bit much per studet, I think.

In addition, three of my RPG group work for different firms as RPG instructors (guides?) for kids. Essentially they run RPGs (mostly D&D) to groups of kids for pay. In effect, instead of the kids going to a swimming team or chess club, they play D&D. On one side, this is more profitable for the instructors (a.k.a. GMs), as they have a steady income, not a limited 8-part course. On the other hands, it doesn't neccessarily TEACH what's needed for (good) GMing/playing.

I don't remember what my point was...nevermind

I was actually thinking of $20 per session for the group, not to be charged individually. I want to target falimies, and $20 is MUCH cheaper then going to the movies or bowling or out for ice cream or something.

I'd like to know more about the firms that teach RPGs for kids. That sounds really close to what I have in mind. Can you send me some information on that? My email is listed under my profile information.

Thank you

I'm sorry about your campaign, Calamar, but that gnome idea is awesome. That'll entertain me for the rest of the weekend, at least.

Hey, zip, if you're sending people info on that, could you send me some, too? Or just put it here, it doesn't matter. I've often thought there should be stuff like that but it's almost impossible to find.

Ask away, guys - what do you want to know? I'll keep you posted on the ansewrs.

What are these firms? How does one go about supplementing his income with them? And what are the rules that they have in this? Does it have to be D&D?

Things of that nature...

As far a I know, two of them work for a nation-wide (for Israel, maybe nation-narrow is more appropriate) company and a third is independant, but used to work for one.

Generally they run RPG sessions (usually D&D, and I think it's dictated by the company, which also supplies them) for groups of kids (5-10) divided by age.
They are paid by the hour and have one to three groups (i.e. weekly sessions) each.

for more details, I'll ask my friends and get back to you.

Dude, that sounds awesome. I'd love to do something like that. A passtime that I can get paid for! Awesome!

Oh, I wanted to ask. Why is Israel so interested in this, or, more accurately, Israelis? Here in America, most people put up the cross at the mention of D&D (bit of an exaggeration but you get the point).

First of all, I wouldn't say role playing a very common hobby in Israel. That in mind, Israel (indeed, most countries) doesn't have the history with D&D that the US has. There's no wide-spread fear of magic and Satanism, for example.

While I don't know any orthodox Jews who play (or what that group's stance on the issue is), I know some observant Jews who do and it seems that their parents manage to not panic over the use of make-believe gods and such (as most here start playing as kids). Other than that, it is still considered very nerdy and more people here would recognize the name D&D over Role Playing.

Now, since I have no data on how prevalent these sort of things are elsewhere in the world, I can't say whether this is more- or less common in Israel.

P.S I know I still owe you some answers... I'm still waiting for my lazy friends to write them down :)

You have to wonder why this is seen as such nerdy activity. Maybe D&D is understandable, but what about other games with more mainstream appeal, like WoD? It seems strange that the whole hobby has been relegated to the "unwashed."

I'd thought that I'd update this a bit as we've been working on it for a while. We have written out the curriculum, the adventure(s), and chosen a game system (GURPS by default). We are ALMOST ready to start running sessions for people when we hit a seemingly small but annoyingly rigid obstacal. We name a company name.

Now, for reasons that I won't go into, we are looking for a two word name that incorporates all the elements of what we are tryng to do, which is to bring people closer together by teaching them how to roleplay, and starts with the letters J and G. Gamer's Journey is the best that we've been able to come up with so far.

Any ideas?

As for the rest... We charge $5 per person per session. There are 8 sessions for the first course. Each session is 2 to 3 hours long. Class includes dice, character sheets, handouts, homework, and other "keepers".

So far so good!

We plan on getting this up an running within the next week.

"starts with the letters J and G"

Why? Names are very important. It is confining to work with two letters. If this is something you are doing with Jai -- believe me, you won't forget who is in the business together no matter what the name of it is. You won't forget the reasons why you are doing the business. In the end the name won't matter a lot to you, but it will matter a lot to your revenue.

I wanted those letters simply because we already had a logo. Just seemed convenient. We ended up going with the Gamer's Journey Group and are currently working on a website. I'll post the link when we're up and running.

Awesome! I won't pass the drinks around until I see the link but this is very exciting for you, man. Looks like a really cool idea. You find success, you could branch out, have people copying (probably using different systems), etc.

And just wondering if I happen to find myself in Denver, could you use some guest instructors? lol that'd be awesome

I was finally able to get my friends to write some about theor jobs, but it seems it's too late. I'll post the translations here anyway, in case someone else is interested, in the next two posts. There were a lot of specifics I didn't think were relevant, so feel free to ask questions.

Sefy says (and I paraphrased):

My job is running games for groups of kids, once per week each. These groups are divided by age and include between 5 to 10 kids at a time. sessions range from one hour (kids under 10) to 90 minutes, to two hours (16-18).
The younger kids play D&D, while I vary the games for the oldest ones: WoD, WWII, D20 Ghost in the Shell and Exalted-based Middle Earth have been played.
Important bits are:
1) keep everyone entertained
2) teach the rules
3) have them learn something while they're at it
4) keep a large group of kids under control (see section 1)

On holidays and on the summer vacation, we have extra activities with longer hours.

Yotam says (and I paraphrased):

My job is also running games for groups of primary school kids, once per week each. I run an hour's game for the younger kids and 90 minutes for the older kids, mostly D&D (now transitioning to 4th Ed for those groups interested) for both age groups.
While I get pre-made adventures and some books from the company, I dislike the stuff (mainly adventures) they give me, as it's uninspired and silly (and occasionally very bland) as they try to shove in "educational value".

It is difficult to keep a bunch of kids invested and entertained so I improvise a lot, trying to follow where I think the kids' interests lie. The younger the child, the shorter the attention span.

The sessions are done in schools or community centers.

That sounds really interesting, man. I'm tempted to start up something similar in my own community. I'm hoping I can help a lot of kids or maybe just get them off he streets or away from abusive homes for a few hours. They have a company that backs them up? That's pretty cool. It'll probably have to be service on my end, but it still sounds like something I'd enjoy. I've got enough money anyway :)

Yeah, they're backed up by a company, but a third friend of mine does it independently (he used to work for another company, but quit and essentially took the kids with him).

The kids pay around 25$ a month each and the two hired guys get paid about 10$ an hour.

That's some crazy stuff, man. Who knew you could make money doing what you love! lol

Tzuriel, isn't that the holy grail of all careers? Living off what you enjoy? (Not that you can really live off of running D&D for kids 3 times a week...

lol I know I was totally joking. But yeah that's what everyone wants. It's like this guy said in Metropolitan, "The way to measure it is how much you enjoy answering the question, 'What do you do?' Me, I loathe it." lol

Hey Calamar, any updates? I'm starting an afterschool RPG program in NYC this week and would love to learn from your experiences!