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What Can I Do To Help?

I frequently get emails and comments from others asking this very question. I'm not getting tired of hearing it by any means; on the contrary, I'm glad to hear from fellow gamers who would like to do something to advance the hobby. But to save myself a bit of repetition, I've compiled a list of things that you can do for gaming.

GM Dave assures us they're playing the Traveller RPG, despite the mishmash of game components they've compiled for this photo of their high school game club in Steelville, Missouri. From left: Cody, Dan (hands only), Dave (GM), Alec, and Samuel. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Play games. Simple, right? That's what we do already. But that's not all that I'm suggesting. Play them with people who have never played before. Play them with friends who haven't played in years. Play them at the park on a nice day, making sure to explain exactly what is going on to whomever asks. Find situations in which playing a game would help the public opinion of gaming, and then get out there and play some games!

Buy games. Also simple. You buy lots of games now, don't you? Well, good. The industry is in a constant state of flux. They need us. Support your favorite games, game publishers, authors, and artists. Don't download pirated PDFs. If your favorite game or game company has a devoted magazine, subscribe to it. Replace those worn-out dice, or get a few new figures for that campaign you've been planning. If you smoke, quit smoking, and spend your cigarette money on gaming stuff! (all right, maybe that is asking a bit much, but it will be a lot better for your health!)  Look into the indie gaming scene - there are many excellent RPGs produced by independent companies that deserve your attention (see The Forge for more info).

Join or start a gaming club. Get together with other gamers, try new games, play with new people, and recruit new members. Put together a network of gaming pals from whom you can call upon to help you with any other project you may find in this list. While you're at it, give them a copy of this list, and tell them to get busy! If you have the time, and feel that you would have something to contribute, join the CAR-PGa. While the Committee does not recruit for the sake of numbers, we can always use representatives, especially in areas that are currently without them.

Give demonstrations. In game shops, at schools and churches (if you can pull it off). Show people what the gaming hobby is all about, and most concerns and convictions will fade. Doing educational demos at a convention is a little like preaching to the choir, but it never hurts to help promote a game that you're fond of.

Do something good in the name of gaming. This has become more and more vital as time wears on. In an article in Comics Retailer concerning the Colorado school shooting, Mike Stackpole suggested that the best way to make gaming look more like a healthy hobby and less like an exclusive club for reclusive weirdos is to make a difference. Volunteer for a worthy cause, and do it in the name of your gaming club or local gaming shop. Hold a food drive, answer the phones at a telethon, sign up your whole gaming group in a walkathon, and make sure you mention that you are a gaming club when you do this. Having the public see gaming represented in such a positive manner can only help the hobby. For more information and ideas, visit BeQuest.

Teach kids how to play. There's nothing better for the hobby than passing it on to the next generation. Get your children, younger siblings, cousins, and nieces and nephews involved (visit The Young Person's Adventure League for more on roleplaying with kids). Volunteer to run an RPG as a young adult program at your local library (for more on that, visit Terra Libris), or at a youth club.

Write letters. Letters to the editor, letters to the school board, letters to your senator, your governor, your mayor, your representative, your parents… write! A letter, even in this day, is treated with more respect and credibility than a telephone call, or even e-mail (but e-mail doesn't hurt), because it takes more of an effort to compose one. Tell the editor how you feel about any gaming pieces you see in the paper. Let the gaming companies know how much you like their game, or what you would like to see changed.

Stay positive. This suggestion should be taken along with any of the others. Negativity is your enemy; avoid it at all costs. No matter how devoted you are to the hobby, it is not your religion. Do not offend the religious or moral beliefs of others, no matter how much they have offended you. Turn the other cheek. Learn to take a joke. Demonstrations are meant to attract people to our hobby and educate them as to how harmless it is, not scare them away and give them new things to worry about. LARPers, this counts for you double. You know who you are.

You can learn more about role-playing games by exploring the other FAQ files in this section: