March 10, 2014

Introducing New Players To An Older Game

The only thing that can be more difficult than introducing new characters to a campaign is introducing new players into one. Now, I use the world ‘can’ very specifically here, as this can also be a very simple and straightforward process, all depending on the players in question. Truthfully, the difficultly here depends solely on the players and how comfortable/experienced they are both with the rest of the group, the game you are playing, and role-playing games in general. More experienced players who are familiar with the game and comfortable with the other players already will normally have a very easy time fitting in and getting into the swing of a game while players who are not will find it much more difficult. Gaming is a great way to make new friends, but that does not lessen the initial difficulty of a first meeting. Add on top of that the somewhat earned reputation of gamers to be – on average – a socially awkward lot, and you can see how this may be a problem.

I have already discussed how to include a new character into a group, so I am not going to go into that here. As for the player, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, be sure to have everyone introduce themselves. Be open. No disinterested waves and hollow “hey”s going around. Actually introduce yourselves, which goes into the next thing. Make the new player feel welcome. Be glad that they have decided to join your group. This is especially important for new players and when I say new, I mean player’s first RPG new. This is the most vulnerable time for them, when they are not really sure this is something they want to be a part of or not, but they have shown initial interest. It is up to you, both players and Gamemaster’s, to nurture that interest. Help it grow. Sure, a new player is going to stumble with the rules a bit at first, but they will grow. The more they are interested in the game, the more they are enjoying it, the faster this will stop. Finally, and again, this goes along with the other points, include the new player in what is going on. Even if the campaign has been going on for years and all of your characters are fully invested in the story, it is up to you to help the new player feel apart of that. Having joined your game group, they potentially have just as much in stake as you do. Do not belittle them or dismiss them because they have not been with the game thus far, rather you should do all you can to help them feel invested. Let them talk about their character and their back-story – new players can be a very excitable lot, and at times this can feel annoying to veteran players who have experienced it all before. Just remember, you were like that once too.

I have been gaming for more than 15 years now, and in that time I have seen many new players experience their first games, and they have – for the most part – been entirely rewarding experiences. I have also seen potential players lose interest and walk away from table-top gaming as a whole due to their experiences at the game table, and each time I have seen that as a failure on the part of the players involved – myself included – to really include that new player into the game. Be open. Be inviting. This is a social game that everyone has the right to experience and enjoy. Cut all the elitist nonsense and see the game for what it truly is: a game.

As always, thanks for reading and I wish you all good gaming.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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