As gaming grows as a hobby and an industry, one of the things keeping it alive is the infusion of new blood. New gamers become our best friends and loved ones; some of them are also the future designers, artists, podcasters and publishers we’ll often grow to cherish. So, when a friend or relative new to games says they’d love to learn, these are five starter tips that will hopefully lead to countless nights of gaming.
Consider Their Tastes
If someone’s stone cold new to gaming, keep their tastes in mind. Their preferred books, movies, or other kinds of games can be a great starting point to match them to a game. If you have a friend who is a diehard fan of action flicks and says they want a game just like their favorite movies, you can guide them towards systems that are geared for action. Always check to make sure they want to follow their usual tastes—people will often surprise you by stating they want to pursue something new.
Don’t Trash on Other Games
It’s a damn hard line to walk, but don’t trash games to new players. There’s a world of difference between telling someone “it’s very heavy on mechanics” and “you could pay me to remove my own pancreas before I’d play that game.” You may have had a negative experience with a type of game, but that may be the future go-to favorite for that new gamer. People will often trust the taste and opinions of their friends, but new—ideally all gamers—should explore games and find what works for them. In a perfect world, that exploration never stops. If you shut down a gamer new or old, about a game they think sounds interesting, you’re not necessarily doing them a favor.
31 Flavors and Counting
If someone wants to be a gaming omnivore, devouring RPGs, card games, board games and everything else available, help them find ways to experiment with everything gaming has to offer. Not everyone has an Endgame (hi Oakland!), but there are amazing game stores across the States (as well as other countries) that host events, allow booking space to play games, and can provide an additional hub for gaming experiences. Consider loaning folks games and pointing out reliable retailers to buy their own copies from.
If they’re keen on social media, a new gamer’s access to the community can go global in the time it takes to set up a Twitter account. There’s also G+, Facebook and a dizzying array of podcasts, forums and blogs out there in various languages, which can create a “drinking from the fire-hose” sensation. The best thing you can do once you get them plugged in is to point out some social media accounts they may dig, step back, and let them explore the online community on their own.
Pack Those Bags
If they can afford a trip to a local con, or one away from home, encourage them to try one out. There are shows known for their games content (Origins, GenCon, PAX), but numerous regional cons will have their own games track, officially or not. There’s a lot of crossover between the writing populations of fiction and role-playing games, so where there’s a genre fiction conference, there may be an unofficial gaming track going on in the bar. And in 2012, many of the designers you find in the bar play Cards Against Humanity while they’re there.
Want to share a story about the folks who got you into gaming? Had a great time with friends at your first games convention? You can share those in the comments!