This isn’t the post I set out to write. But it’s helpful in understanding that one, which I hope to write next, so I’m posting it anyway. I think that examination of the kind of gaming context you’re in can really help to identify where you’re coming from and help explain why things do or don’t make a particular kind of sense to you or someone else.
Some demographics from my face to face gaming world:
- There are 11 folks who comprise the majority of my face to face gaming in the last five years or so, down from about 20 in the five years before that and 40 or so in the five years before that.
- Six are men and five are women.
- (edited to add: ) We fall, fairly evenly spaced, between the ages of 28 and 37. There’s a significant cluster of around 5 sitting at 32-33. The average age is 33.
- All are “white”. Ethnicities represented are: Greek, Irish, English, Scottish and “Mutt” (their word, not mine).
- At least four have some degree of self-identification with the word “queer”. At least one has been involved in committed same-sex relationships.
- We cover a wide socio-economic band. Historically, we come from lower lower middle class to upper middle class backgrounds. Currently, we fit all fit somewhere between upper middle class and middle middle class.
- Six of us have an identification to an organized religious group. None would be considered by the group to be particularly devout, only one would be considered adherent, one would be considered moderately adherent. Of the religious affiliations represented, we have: Mormon, Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Buddhist and Wiccan.
- Ten of the eleven are married couples. Three of those couples have kids. Three of the couples own their own houses.
- Two of us have graduate degrees, four more have undergrad degrees, two more are enrolled to complete or came close to completing undergraduate degrees, one has specialized training, and two have high school diplomas. Of all the degrees mentioned, all are in the arts, save for three degrees earned by the same person, two in science and one an MBA.
- Three grew up in metropolitan centers with a population of a million of more. One grew up in a metropolitan center with a pop of 300-500K, and three grew up in cities with a pop in the band of 100-200K. We all have spent the majority of our adult years in Toronto.
- Six have lived in other countries, and five have traveled the world fairly extensively.
- Politically, every one of us is left of center, most moderately, a few extensively. At least half would self-identify as socialist, and at least a couple maintain communist leanings.
- We have three teachers, two business professionals, one illustrator, one chef, and one contractor among us. The others have jobs in television arts and customer service.
- Ten of the eleven are historically very good friends. Some of these folks I have known for 15 years, others only 5 or so. I socialize with them both in game and outside of game. I have been to all of their weddings, and I have looked after their kids, their houses and their pets. These ten folks make up about two thirds of the core folks that I consider good friends. The others are non gamers. The extra one is pretty new in the last year, however, I have no doubt that if we continue to play that we’ll end up there too.
Notable (and possibly related) Experience:
- At least half of us have been involved in theatre at some point or other. Of these, at least five have been on stage acting (in a play that required purchased tickets to attend). Of those, and two of us have had extensive theatrical training including improvisational theatre, playwriting, directorial experience.
- Three have a background in public speaking, one of which has been a radio broadcaster.
- Four of us have been paid as published writers. Two of those have more than five publication credits and one of those have made a living on their writing alone.
- Two are extensively trained in and make their living by fine arts.
- Six have GM’d games in which I was involved, (five of the men and me).
- Nine of these have substantial LARP experience, and most people met each other through that experience. Of those, five still play LARP at least monthly, and one of them runs the biggest (and most successful) LARP in Toronto.
- Only one of those people is new to gaming in the last fifteen years or more.
- Eight have played around in new fangled hippy systems or hybrid concepts and seven play there in a fairly regular basis.
- Two play CCG’s competitively. Three more play occasionally, and two more have played frequently in the past.
- All of them, save one loves them the boardgames.
- None of them came out of a history of war gaming, only three of them have played any at all, and of them none play with any regularity.
- Two are heavily into MMORPGS
- About half have extensive online MU** experience.
- Only two of us have a voice in any online forum, blog or community that centers around gaming (can you guess which two?) and only two more even occasionally read anything on said forums.
On the games:
- The games I’ve played in the last five years with these eleven folks: Dogs in the Vineyard (4 games), Exalted (4 games), Unknown Armies(3 games), Crime & Punishment (2 games), Tribe 8, Truth & Justice, Witchcraft, My Life with Master, The Shadow of Yesterday, 7th Sea, Breaking the Ice, Mage: the Awakening, Buffy, Nine Worlds, and Nobilis.
- Eight of these games (four of the Exalted games, two of the Unknown Armies Games, the Truth and Justice game, and the 7th Sea game) represent the majority of my gaming time, were/are very involved games running anywhere from 1-4 years in length with sessions averaging 5-6 hours. Most of those were played either weekly or biweekly.
- Six of them (The Mage game, one Dogs game (still playing), one Unknown Armies game, the Nobilis game and the Tribe 8 game, Witchcraft) were mid-length games that had 4-15 episodes of play at an average of 3-6 hours per session played over a year and a half.
- The rest (TSOY, MLWM, BtI, Buffy, Nine Worlds, the other Dogs games) were all in the 1-3 episode range, and were either meant to be one offs (MLWM, BtI, one DitV), short plays (Buffy, one DitV game) or just didn’t work for us (Nine Worlds). The sessions would range anywhere from 2-6 hours in length. The two C&P games were, obviously, playtests.
- None of these games were based on pre-written campaign adventures.
- Several of the long run games were shifted or hybridized to change the dynamics of the game or suit the social contract at the table.
- All of the long run games, and most of the mid run games were very dynamic. Most told epic stories and had evolving characters that faced brutal challenges. Most of the stories had a novel-like structure with the longest of the games being serial novels. Their stories were, full, evolved, and well developed stories, each having a beginning middle or an end. The longest ones had multiple beginnings middles and ends, and felt kind of like like trilogies (quadrilogies, whatever). Of those games that are considered over, most of them ended at a completion point, rather than falling apart or abruptly ending mid-stream.
So as not to discount their experiences with me, I should say that there is another half dozen folks that I have played with virtually, in this time. In these cases, we come together to play TT games in a virtual environment, rather than coming together to play a game that exists virtually (like a MUSH or a MMORPG). I have also played in pick up, one-shot games with approximately a dozen other people in the last couple of years. These kinds of games do not form the bulk of my gaming time (as I know that they do for some) and so do not have nearly as much impact as my other body of games.
If you’re up for it, I challenge you to take stock of your own gaming census and post it in your own blogs or forums, to give others a better sense of where you’re coming from.