Is your gaming group a constant or does it change?

edited December 2012 in Play Advice
Jonathan Walton said in another thread
"I pretty much never play more than a single campaign with the same group of people anymore. It's so great! I get to custom recruit a new, interesting group of people for every game I put together. Yeah, it can be a pain, but the upside is that I get to play a lot of different games with a lot of different people and don't have to try to arm-twist people into playing games they're not excited about or playing with people they're not excited about. "
And it struck a chord with me. At one time I played with mostly the same people every time through multiple games and campaigns, and now it seems that even the "solid" groups I have still lose and gain players all the time, and I also seem to be building specific groups for smaller games and such.
So what's you experience like? Is it a group of friends who play together all the time, several groups, specific groups for specific things, pick up games, some form of mixture. I'm interested, that's all.


  • edited December 2012
    I'm part of a pool of something like 20-30 people, of varying levels of acquaintance (some are longtime friends, some are new friends, some friends of friends), who basically form games out of subsets of itself on a semi-regular basis. There's a good level of variety in terms of material (we currently have ongoing games of Pathfinder, D6 Star Wars & DC Heroes, and one-shots and shorter campaigns of the 40K games, many S-G faves and recent releases), but there's relatively little player overlap between specific campaigns. That actually strikes me as kind of a best of both worlds situation, since there's enough familiarity with one another to eliminate the "feeling-out" period of assembling and getting simpatico with a totally new group, but enough variety of players so there's not a real problem pitching any specific game, since anyone with particularly strong dislikes can just sit that one out without having to worry about getting de facto exiled from the group until it's over.

    Looking over Jonathan's quote, I'm not sure if he has the same kind of thing going on; it sounds like he has 100% turnover between games?
  • As an added perspective, I've been thinking that there are two different attitudes people have towards roleplaying, and this colors a lot of how their group formation goes: On the one hand we have the social gamer who games with friends and because he's friends with other gamers. On the other hand we have the pro gamer who games because that's his chosen form of art. The difference between these personalities is slight in terms of practical playtime and taste in games, so it's not just about casual vs. hardcore gaming, but rather about the place gaming has in your life: do you do it to satisfy your artistic needs, or because it's a fun pastime. Both sorts can end up spending a lot of time with gaming, but the reasons are different.

    Among my own circle of friends I'm of the latter sort, a pro gamer. Jonathan is another one, it's always seemed to me, and I know a few others as well. (Really, most designer-types seem to be like this.) We're so into it that we're basically just going to start a new game group if that's what it takes. Every gamer like this that I know of tends to have some shuffle in their gaming groups simply because they're often much more committed to it than their environs.

    In my current situation my game group is actually relatively stable, but that's mostly because I live in the middle of nowhere and basically all the local gamers are either in whatever game I've currently got going, or specifically out of it because of some well-phrased reason like it's for adults only or it only fits four people or they've got a busy schedule this season. Technically we go through a group formation process for every new game, though, even if it's mostly going to end up with a subset of the same limited group of people every time.

    This differs a lot from how I've seen more socially-minded gamers building groups. I was, in fact, a socially oriented gamer in my teens, and even later on I used to game with a group of people who were into it predominantly for social reasons. In that sort of environment the question is not "Can I get a group together for this game?" but rather, "What do we want to play next?" Completely different questions!

    In fact, looking at the details of my current play situation, I'm sort of in a hybrid situation between these two polarities right now: I've got a younger gaming partner who's passionate about the art, and we play well together, so he basically ends up at my table regularly no matter what we play. I've also been so busy for the last year with writing work that I'm not doing much to organize gaming, which means that my partner's been doing the set-ups and social arrangements. So the local group formation process is basically "S. and I are going to be playing game X - who else can we get to try it with us?"

    Thinking on this further, there are several hardcore social gamers around here as well. These are people that might be termed gamer "geeks" in that gaming is their main social outlet, and they're basically "up for anything" as long as you allow them to continue gaming with you. The existence of this type of personality in the local scene tends to mean that game groupings naturally stultify: you talk about a new game in whatever group you're in currently, and the geek's going to volunteer to join in, because he's here to socialize and not to optimize a game group with an eye towards performance. Over a longer time-frame this type of behaviour basically amounts to always playing with the same people just because they are those people.

    (I should note that I've nothing against the sort of "geek" personality type I outline above. Some are annoying pests, as the reader has no doubt experienced, but others are nice and companionable people who are just a bit lonely outside gaming. Besides, the impulse of gaming socially makes a lot of sense; you hardly can avoid befriending people you enjoy gaming with.)

    If I'm allowed an idle hypothesis here, I might suggest that a socially-minded gaming group is naturally much more stable than one where the driving force of getting together is external, like a specific game or other "pro gamer" concerns. Combine this with the type of personality for whom gaming is an important social outlet (read: a geeky gamer), and we can see how roleplaying has ended up with a social reputation where "basement-dwelling geek" is a stereotype.
  • I have more than one group but those groups have been rather stable. One is the group of my childhood friends and we game when we get together but also skype especially to game. It for sure is a social thing there and it is mostly one game we are doing. Long term campaigns is what the group likes so that comes naturally too.
    Then there is the group I got into when I moved into town and wanted to roleplay because for me that is one of the main hobbies. I did not have a skype group running back then. Now the players in the group became friends with each other and we hang out outside of gaming, recruited other friends. It is just one activity that circle of friends shares but the one it came from.
    My third group is a town away and consists of people who met over the internet and united about a similar style. There has been lots of fluctuation in the group but a core remained. We became friends too as it happens, maybe I am good at forging friendships out of the hobby. This group is the most willing to try out new games and ideas. So I do not need to search a new group just to try out a game but instead just ask and we will probably fit it into the schedule sometime.

    I like to play with friends more than with aquintances I just know over the gaming. But that is true with other art forms as well. I would rather play music with my friends than with strangers as well. So I think I do not completely fit Eero's categories. But I would fit in more into the social thing.
  • edited December 2012
    While I like pick-up games and one-shots with random people (and friends!), when it comes to regular sessions, I've been gaming with the same gaming group for a decade. We play all kinds of games -- trad games, story games, weird stuff, tactical combat with minis, board games, whatever -- and they don't really care, so long as we're all having fun. They're enthusiastic about everything.
  • edited December 2012
    Interesting, especially the bit about you having a friend who's doing all the set-ups and social arrangements. Anyone who's interested in assembling optimized "Pros from Dover" groups for specific games really needs someone on that job, I think. You need to know a lot of people and be able to talent-scout effectively, or you'll end up with the same five people over and over again anyway.

    Anyway, I started out a "social gamer," transitioned to (and spent a fairly long stretch as) a "pro gamer," and then moved back to "social gamer" again once I was a few years out of school. I like learning games and improving my skills and all, but I just don't have the time or energy (or to be honest, the interest in gaming as opposed to doing any of my other hobbies) to spend chasing down new people to play with and, y'know, interacting socially with more strangers during my week. Probably why I've been playing with some of the same people for friggin' decades at this point.
  • Joe, yeah, my set-up is pretty similar to yours. Rarely do I gather a group together where nobody knows anyone else. There's a huge crowd of gamers in Seattle (you can't throw a d20 without hitting one, it seems), so it's usually just a matter of putting out feelers or sending out a few emails and seeing who bites. It's not always 100% turnover, but at least 50-75%.
  • edited December 2012
    I have a great local community.

    Part of it is that we have a big local roleplaying games club, it has about 80 members and there is always 5-10 diffferent tabletop groups running. The club holds mini gaming convetions 4 times of year to let people get to know people they don't regulary game with. Then there is a lot more people how not part of the club but still play roleplaying games and are apart of the local roleplaying gamer network. Perhaps 120-150 people at all in a local social network of roleplayers

    Of those my personal sub community is about 20-30 people I game with semiregulary, like I see them at Willhelms potluck cons or when people want to playtest stuff or just have a gaming night

    At the moment I have a regular roleplaying group of 6 people.


    When you have that many levels of community to fall back on it doesn't matter that group constellations change. New groups come together and old ones fall apart, and you get interesting new mixes of people you games a lot with and new faces. It creates a good and healthy situation with both safety and variety.

    Most of my group stick together unchanged for half a year or less. Then there usually some change. Some quit, or someone joins, or the group brakes up.

    At times I been playing in 4 different weekly roleplaying groups at the same time, partly with the same people, partly not. Most groups are mixes of both new and old faces, and there are at least a couple of faces change beteen each group or new campaign.
  • I fall in Eero's pro-gamer category. I'd rather play the right game with strangers than the wrong game with friends.

    It would be awesome to have a steady group of good friends to play the right games with, but it has been a couple of years since I was in that position.

    Like a vampire feeding off cattle I sustain myself via playing at house cons. :-)
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