300 Games Later

You play a game, then you play another game, then you play another game, and suddenly… you’ve played a lot of games.

A few weeks ago I played my 300th game at Story Games Seattle. That’s a lot of candles on that cake. If you told me when I sat down to show people how to play Geiger Counter in March 2010 that we’d still be going seven and a half years later, I would never have believed you.

People tell me I have an above-average memory (or at least that’s what I remember them telling me), and yes even though that’s a horde of unrelated stories and made-up worlds (because they’re all one-shots), I can recall tons of what happened, in the game and at the table. So many fantastic games — and some terrible ones, because that’s how it works. Some of those early sessions are still iconic landmarks in my gaming landscape, back when Shock, Polaris and Geiger Counter were our go-to systems.

And you know how I always say we get new people all the time? Well, according to the logs, I played with 268 people I had never played with before. So not quite an average of a new person at every single game, but pretty darn close.

We’ve also been a haven of GMless games, which has caused some would-be attendees consternation, because here were all these great gamers, why can’t we play this GM’ed game I like?!? GMless games are a tiny percentage of the role-playing games played in the world at large — ultra-tiny — but I made a space for them because a) I liked them and more importantly b) I think they serve a valuable social purpose. I’ve never been very vocal about the “why” but my goal was always to get more new people to participate, particularly women, who are drastically under-represented in gaming. I’ve always believed that GMless games are more welcoming to people who otherwise might be turned off by the RPG experience. Instead of sitting down and having some stranger be the arbiter of what happens and what’s good (and even if you’re the best and most sensitive GM in the universe, that’s an inherently weird social situation) in a GMless game we’re all equals and everyone’s contribution is valuable right from the start. It’s a far more natural dynamic.

Does it work? Do we get more women at the table than the average gaming group? I don’t have numbers for gaming as a whole but anecdotally I think we do. It waxes and wanes but 30-40% women is pretty normal for us. Could it be higher? It could always be higher.

    Ben Robbins | October 11th, 2017 | , | hide comments
  1. #2 Ben Robbins says:

    Meetup.com is an invaluable resource for bringing people in, particularly people new to gaming who are just looking for something new to try. There are a few other “Story Games (city name)” groups that have gotten together, but I definitely think there should be more.

    I think the important thing is knowing why you’re doing it and what your goals are. I knew the core principles I wanted from the start — equality, inclusion, everybody at the table matters — so even as the setup evolved I could always check back to make sure I was staying true to those ideas.

  2. #1 MQ says:

    What a milestone, 300 games is extremely impressive! I’ve only been able to go to Story Games Seattle the few times I’ve been in town for GoPlayNW, but I love the comfortable and inviting atmosphere and look forward to it each year.

    I’ve been wanting to ask a few things about Story Games Seattle for a while and couldn’t find a good time/way to bring it up, so this seems like a good opportunity. I think it would be awesome if there were more gatherings like it. I’ve thought about doing something locally (though I’m not sure there’s enough interest) or even online, despite the difficulties that result from a lack of body language/context. What I’d like to know is:

    How do you get something like Story Games Seattle started? Getting people interested and spreading the word around, I mean?

    What advice would you have for yourself starting out that would have made things easier? Anything you would have done differently?

    What pitfalls or difficulties, if any, did you run into in the past 7 years?

    Frankly, starting new things and meeting new people can be challenging for me. Maybe I won’t ever get past the ‘wishful thinking’ stage, but any advice that could make that more likely to happen would be greatly appreciated.

Leave a reply