Gaming Hermits – The Silence of 10K Feet

Aug 30, 2012

Games and gamers come in many forms. Some thrive on the liveliness of conventions and large groups. Others prefer small events focused on smaller groups of well known people. I like both, on occasion, but consider the small group dynamic more enjoyable overall. For the last several years, my original group with a few additional people have headed to a central location for a gaming weekend.

Mt. Evans Field STation

The preferred location has evolved after stints in cramped hotel rooms and crabby neighbors into gaming at the University of Denver’s Mount Evan’s Field Station. The location is far removed from camping — it has central heat, two bathrooms and a full kitchen. You might even get a internet connection if you are lucky but you will not find cell phone access. Life without the annoying chirps of incoming email, texts, or notifications from social networks is one of the perks. Decoupling yourself from electronic attachments is not for everyone. You must be ready to just game, socialize face to face, and take advantage of the setting.

The idea originated from a discussion between Kevin of KORPG and myself several years ago. The gathering was dubbed Convergence. It slowly evolved into the modern incarnation of friends arriving from several states into a long weekend of game playing, socializing, and solace in a remote area. The original intentions have long been fulfilled and continue to be relevant today.

As the gathering evolved, disparate intentions emerged. The diverging intentions were not intentional. Rather, it was just a matter of group dynamics. We all learned during our childhood that a square peg does not fit in the round hole. If you place one person in a small group dynamic who wants to showcase games of little interest to the other attendees, critical mass is broken. Group dynamics are key in a small gathering. Everyone needs to be on the same page as to what they want to play or would enjoy doing. Each member needs to speak up early and often if the game at hand doesn’t fit for them.

Call it gaming via democracy. I’ve been very pointed in noting to new attendees that the original group is very old game oriented. We’ve tried out a fair share of different systems but everyone agrees that early D&D fits our fancy more than most. Furthermore, those key people don’t play a particular edition but rather a mutant incarnation of several editions ranging from Basic to 1E and through 2E. A huge number of the rules are outright ignore. Perhaps we are gaming neanderthals but we can make games get moving quickly and simply without hours of downtime.

Time is a critical component. The players want to play not spend hours generating characters or learning rules. It is far easier to fall back into a comfort game than to dig through rule books for hours. We will degenerate into telling true stories and drinking beer if the wait is too long. Or bust out a game of MtG.

One new guy gets it. He brought up the possibility of running CP2013 — the original cyberpunk game. He thought it would fit with us and it does in spades. Chargen is pain but it can be streamlined easily or with an assortment of pre-generated characters to choose from. The game systems are not really the question, it is frankly the interest and engagement of the group.

As for time fillers, I have Drinking Quest #1 ready to roll. Couple that with incoming copies of the new revised edition PLUS Drinking Quest 2, the sequel. Bust out the beers, the pretzels, and assorted appetizers.

The end of September is going to a fantastic time.

1 Comment

  • I like to go for both sides of that coin. We have a gaming society with roughly 50-60 members that meet up once a week for long style campaign play. You tend to find a game that interests you, and play for as long as the university term, with drinking and socializing book-ending the gaming, as we meet in a pub.

    Other than that, my girlfriend and a few friends get together when we can, usually after band practices, as we are all in a band too, and get to play short term games of what we all want to play. It can be anything from an old game one of us hasn’t played in years, to a brand new purchase to just give it a try, or just rocking a board game or two to unwind. Like yourselves, we know each other, and know what to put in front of the group for consideration.