Tuesday 29 September 2009

Free resources to help you find players

You know you're a gamer, it says so on the label on your underpants. But how do you go about finding other gamers? Unless you live in a very friendly culture, you can't go around yanking on y-fronts and inspecting labels. Instead, wire up your difference engine to your elastic trickery pipe and take a thrilling ride on the global information super tramway. In the name of web journalism, I will be plunging into these sites and immersing myself if their online goodness. All that without any consideration for my own personal well being. How I suffer for you, dear reader!

How are you testing?

In the least scientific manner possible. I shun science! I put myself in your shoes, I want to find a game. I want to find an AD&D/D&D/D&D&DA&D&D&D game and a free game (Jags, Fudge, Icar). I will also search by location. As the internet still orbits the USA, I will pretend I am in Reading UK and in 90210, which is the only Zip code I know off the top of my head. Why? I'll let you figure that shame truth out. I generally found that searching by location was more useful than searching by game.

Access Denied

Inappropriately named and long in the tooth, Access Denied is part of the old guard of player databases. It has been online since 1997 and I can believe that as I found myself on there using a nickname I haven't used in at least a decade! You can search by city or by game. There are 2500 people listed as AD&D and I am not sure how many of those players are still active. I couldn't contact myself, for example. Icar is in there because, well, I probably put it in 10 years ago. I could find gamers in Reading but could not search by Zip code.

Board Game Geek

Board Game Geek is a superb website that concentrates on board games. There is an RPG version, Geekdo but I can't find the game finder on that site, so I used the BGG one. I tried to search for a game in blighty but it only accepted Zip Code. However, when I used my assumed 90210 zip, it did show a lovely load of gamers nearby. They might be board gamers, though and I know a few of them. From a distance. Through binoculars. I liked the Google Maps output, though.

Nearby Gamers

Nearby Gamers is designed purely for the purpose of finding your gamers. It uses Google maps and to get the most, you need to register an account. So I did. I managed to find some gamers both in Reading and in 90210. Gamers and games are categorised by tags, so it was very easy to find free RPGs (under the Indie heading). The level of granularity is just right, you can browse into the tags to find something new or head straight to an old favourite. The design could do with a bit of sprucing up but then so could this blog. I like Nearby Gamers, it works a treat.

Pen and Paper Games

Pen and Paper Games is a forum haunt that I like to drop in on once in a while. It has a registry search, which uses Google maps, of course. There are 9000 users in the database, I can't say how many of those actually appear on the map. I know I don't. Still, if you like having a community around the search facility then PaPG is definitely good for you. The site also lists people as either player or GM, which is a cool idea but what if you do both?

RPG Game Find

New on the block RPG Game Find is a text based tool that once you scroll past the huge header and adverts is a good game finder. Sadly failed to find anything in Reading without hopping on a plane. 90210 did turn up some results but the categorisation of roleplaying games is too coarse for me to locate a free or indie game.


Meetup is a social networking site that is general purpose and I didn't manage to find too many gamers on there. If you are organising a regular get together, it might be worth a look. I prefer those aimed at Gamers, though.

RPG.Net Gaming Gatherings Forum

If you're not afraid of your post sinking without a trace then the ever active big purple might be for you. It's not really a searchable thing but games are regularly added and you can't fault big purple for the huge number of people on there. I also made good use of their list of player finders thread to compile this.


My favourite? Still Nearby Gamers fits my bill. It does the one job and very well. And I like maps. With Google.

A final thank you to Derek (Little Sherpherd), without whom I would have never ventured to write this post!


Little Shepherd said...

Sweet! I'll help with a few clarifications and comments based on my own experience.

From rpg.geekdo.com, "find users" under the "Misc" heading up top is how you can find gamers. And I think the board game and RPG sections are kept separate, so your search actually was for board gamers.

Nearby Gamers is awesome, agreed! It's my favorite setup, mostly because of the tags. I wish they had more control over the tags sometimes(did you see how many there were for the *same* version of D&D, much less D&D in general?). And their forum is . . . meh. But I can find nearby gamers and see what games they like easily enough, so win!

Meetup isn't technically free, though it may or may not be for individual users. There is a fee per group, and whoever runs each group may or may not have a policy about splitting costs among the members.

AccessDenied is great, but you got it right -- that's if the people are still active. They do seem to have a larger number of inactive members than some other sites.

Pen & Paper games has one quirk that bugs the heck outta me! At least they're upfront about it . . . but the unavoidable "and" boolean(search items are INCLUSIVE) kinda sucks. If you want to find gamers available on Friday OR Saturday, you have to do two different searches. If you want to find gamers interested in Fantasy OR Horror, again, two different searches. Better use of standard booleans(or at least an option to make searches non-inclusive) would have gone a long way to making this easier to use.

That's really about all I have to add. Awesome post!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't find a review of the PDQ system on your blog. I was gong to run a Restoration/Age of Enlightenment horror with PDQ#, but things didn't work out.

Thought I'd pass them along.


PDQ Core Rules

PDQ# (PDQ Sharp!)

Anonymous said...

Sorry for being so rude, I posted the PDQ# link in the previous comment. I'm Nero at nrgrmss@yahoo.com . It's been a frustrating year.

Best Regards.

Nero Grimes said...

I've had this for a while and never gave it a serious try, I didn't need to.

Now Nanowrimo is around the corner and I won't have time to use it anytime soon.


Rob Lang said...

Hey Little Shepherd, thanks for the extra input. It's always welcome. Thanks for the hint on Finding Users. It's not nearly as well done as BGG, so I'll leave it be for now.

@Nero - PDQ is in the list! :)