Written by Head Goblin
As always when passionate about a hobby, one will try to introduce friends and loved ones because one wants the ones close to share the fun one have when doing it. This applies to every kind of-hobby no matter if it is water skiing, trekking, (star-trekking) and of cause roleplaying games. Though the reputation still isn’t that good, and still considered geeky, it has increased the last 15 years with increased positive publicity from media and movies with larger budgets.
First thing to remember is that you cannot force a hobby down on anyone. You can introduce the game to someone and then they have to make their own opinion about it. Roleplaying games is some part acting, and people think that kind of acting is to move out of their own comfort zone. Second, roleplaying-games just isn’t for everyone – And it is a good idea to remember this.
A few tips to introduce the game to others:
Argument that they should at least try it once, before they dismiss it: I know a lot of people who never tried it and they thought it was silly, but once they participated in a game they thought It was pretty fun and decided to carry on playing. (I also had people trying it and figure out that it was everything they thought it would be, don’t push them further)
Find a basic rule system, or a cut down version of an advanced: You really don’t want a new person who never tried roleplaying games to sit with the most advanced version of GURPS choking in rules. Rules are cool if people know them to make the game smooth. But remember especially in this case that it is roleplaying games. Not dice rolling games.
Start on their own terms: If it is a person who likes my little ponies. Don’t start off in a fantasy world where you work for a horse trainer, make a game with my little ponies. Watch a few movies, put together a very basic system and play my little ponies. If you don’t care enough to watch a few movies for the sake of introduction, how could you think the person you want to introduce would care enough to try out your interests?
Watch a few movies about the subject of the game: Is it fantasy, try to start a spark with lord of the rings, Conan series. If it is western styled try with some of the trinity movies, and if it is alternative western- there is always wild wild west. There is a few steampunk alternatives out there, but it shouldn’t really be difficult to find a movie or two in the genre you want. It might start a spark.
If the person is afraid to express her self: Try making a 1:1 game, where you run the game. Try to overplay in the beginning (but without being silly). That way the other person tends to be more open. And not feeling so silly talking in character.
The last tip - might even be the best: Bring your friend to a game session. Let them experience the fun in the group. The laughs and the fun everyone have. Show that it is not just the game, but the food (if you eat together), the movie you saw last night. The date last week or your newly bought movie, that you already watched 14 times this week because it was so good.
So remember, take it slow, and don’t force something that isn’t meant to be. Start on their terms. Don’t be afraid to be in game a lot the first few sessions, try to start a spark, and let them experience the fun.
I’m not saying it is a fool proof recipe, but it will almost always increase your chances. Don’t forget to mix this with a spoon of common sense.