6. Attend a Gaming Convention
The good: It's possible to meet a gaming group through a con, though in my experience you should expect to go regularly for a while first (if there are any extroverted gamers out there, ignore that part). Cons are fun just on their own for the general con experience, and there are certainly lots of people there. Plus you can try out many different GMs on the same day/weekend, which is pretty efficient compared to how long it would take normally. You also won't have people thinking they should make plans around you or get stuck in a group that you sort of hate since no one expects you to stick around. This gives you freedom, which is power. And knowledge is power. So it makes you smart, too! Finding a local convention usually takes little more than a quick Google search, but looking for flyers at your local gaming or comic book store is a pretty good way to go.
Flyers will look something like this
The bad: Well, most people going to a con are going there to do con stuff. Which is to say that they might not be looking for a long-term romance, more of a one night stand of gaming. They may be from far away (though not under house arrest, since they're at the con) and that might not work (my wife and I once totally hit it off with some gamers only to find out they were from Arizona). They might be at con to get a break from their huge gaming group that is rife with rivalries and old grudges. Lastly, GMs don't always run games the same at con they do for their regular group, either better due to preparation or worse due to being very tired. So of the suggestions on this list, it's more of a long shot than most. Although it has the big bonus of being fun and satisfying its own right. Your local gaming convention is no Comic-Con and it probably never gets on the news, but it's still a great time, even if people do forget to eat, sleep, and shower.
7. Try Gaming on Internet Forums
The good: Well, let's say you like a bunch of different games or some game that is so obscure they can't even manage a web presence. Or you have some pathological hatred of the official manufacturers due to their shutting down your fansite with mean lawyers. You could sign up for a site like rpg.net and be independent! They are agnostic as to game systems, plus you can game online. This is a place where I honestly am behind the tech curve due to liking in-person gaming, but I know people who have success with Skype and Google Hangout among other places. People also just post turns on a forum, which is great for scheduling or for people under house arrest as you can work it around your normal life.
RPG.net is pretty good place to start
The bad: Most forums have their own mini cultures, and you may be judged harshly if you are not in compliance. You may get dozens of replies or none, depending on how people judge your requests to play or if you post at the right time. Although I know people who enjoy playing by forum post, given the number of verbal exchanges in something like a combat round it seems like it must be a positively glacial method of play. You also lose the in-person aspect, which could make things a bit more distant and preserve Internet anonymity, which can be a bad thing for some people. Online play can get a tad strange, though this is more of a chat thing than a forum thing, or so is my understanding of the stereotypes involved.
8. Open Gaming at Your Friendly Local Game Store
The good: Fifteen years ago there were a dozen game stores within an hour of my house. I had my pick, but the quality was hit or miss. Some were dirty, stinky and full of employees who thought their job was to game and look at Magic the Gathering Cards, enough that this became the stereotype. These days, game stores in general are more rare, but in my experience friendlier and a lot more helpful. They also look less like basements and more like real businesses. It can be a hard choice between supporting your FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) and just buying on Amazon sometimes, but there's one thing they do very well, which is bring gamers together. Most gaming stores have a list of local games, and many of them host gaming at least once a week and sometimes longer-term games as well. They also provide space to play, which can be critical.
See? Nothing like a basement (Photo courtesy of DiceHouse Games in Fullerton, CA)
The bad: You don't have to be under house arrest to have trouble finding an FLGS. They may all be closed, or you may have an owner who passed through the hard times for game stores despite his fundamental dickishness and now uses it as a reinforcement for said dickishness (dickitosity?). Here you have a very small, but potentially very good pool of people who both game and live near you, but they may not need players or they may hate your favorite game. You never know how many people look at your actual ad, or if you might as well stuff your game request in a bottle and drop it off a boat. Preferably a yacht.
9. Try Craigslist
The good - I know a few people who sell goods on Craigslist. Once when I got really irritated with finding a place to rent I found a good one on Craigslist that was only slightly crime-ridden. (Our neighbors got broken into once, but the rent was so low! It was awesome! This is not a joke, I mean it!) It has a large pool of people, and you can find some really funny posts, especially the really pathetic ones in Missed Connections (I bought a latte, you blew your nose and it was so beautiful - I can only hope you read this ad and contact me, I was the college student in the corner quietly crying to myself). I don't know any reason why you would have any bad results from posting an ad on Craigslist, though if you aren't under house arrest you might want to make sure you meet in public (to be serious for a moment, this is ALWAYS the best idea). Also, if you are very clear in your ad, people probably won't think you're selling drugs.
The bad - Craigslist used to be just one of those things the media didn't understand except that it was high tech. However, in recent years, it's become clear to everyone that it's mostly about prostitutes and drugs and murdering people. Sorry, that's a stereotype; the murdering part is exaggerated by the media. But basically, the potential creepiness of Craigslist makes Meetup.com look like amateurs. It doesn't have to be that way, and plenty of non-creepy people probably log on to Craigslist every day to read weird postings and look for naked pictures before going on to do something useful with their lives. But it could be an issue. Assuming you're not a murderer. Not that there's anything wrong with that; this list is a no-judging zone.
Nothing creepy going on here. (See that URL? This happened. For real.)
10. Start a Facebook Group
The good - Let's say you've come this far in the article and have now amassed a huge group of followers. Er, players, I mean. You want to keep things organized and make sure there aren't any creepers around. My personal preferred tool is Facebook Groups. Here you can set up a secret group, invite only the relevant players, and keep a running discussion of the game. This can be good to get bookkeeping done between games, to keep up a running journal for players that miss sessions due to illness/vacation/house arrest /etc, and just generally keep in touch. People are busy these days and something like this can help a lot.
We make a lot of these. It's kind of addicting.
The bad - You need players and all the other things covered above first. You need to make sure not to get too controlling or obsessive about your gaming Groups. You also need to not log on to check your Groups and end up sucked into following people's feeds or that little stalker box off to the right that shows you everything they're doing. Facebook can be habit-forming and may cause you to waste even more time on the internet. It can also be awkward when dealing with people who don't like Facebook or are afraid of computers, although those people are silly. Note - please do not print this email and give it to someone who does not have a computer. That would be hurtful to all involved.
Previously by David N. Scott: