When friends or random internet people are on the fence about starting another group or event in their local community, I typically encourage them; the more options people have for things to do, the better. Those who go are also more likely to find like-minded people at more specialized events. Back in the olden days of yore, there were two munches locally per month, as well as one demo. Now, there’s more than that in just one week. We have roughly 20 active local groups. There are so many events now that it’s impossible to go to everything that I want to. It’s a fantastic problem to have.
But I also let these friends know about the most likely problems they’ll face so they can be better prepared:
- Running a group immediately makes you a target. There are those who will spread rumors about you. Some will smile and call you friend, then talk trash about you as soon as you leave. Filtering these people out of your life can prove more difficult than you’d think.
- You will eventually have some form of consent violation take place at one of your events. Whatever decision you make in dealing with this will be wrong.
- You won’t make money on this. In fact, you’re likely to lose money if you aren’t smart about it.
- Armchair quarterbacks are everywhere. Every decision you make will be loudly criticized. People will complain about how you’re doing everything wrong while simultaneously refusing to lift a finger themselves. Be ready to publicly defend every decision you make.
- It will feel like a job at times. An obligation. You won’t feel like going, putting in the effort, or being social. You’re exhausted, stressed, had a horrible day at work, and your dog pooped on the rug. But you slap on a smile and get out there anyway.
- Other times, it’s nearly effortless and a total blast.
- There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into it. Hours of planning, difficult conversations, private messages, and dirty work that people never see. The larger the group/event, the more that goes into it. You will have to deal with grumpy or unreliable venue owners, zoning laws, accessibility issues, people breaking their word, and other such pleasantries.
- Avoiding a clique-ish environment can be trickier than it seems. One thing that helps is to break away from your close friends and go talk to the new people. Make them feel welcome, introduce them around.
- You will have to arrive well before everyone else and leave long after they’re all in bed for the night.
- You will have to remove people from events and deal with people who engage in creepy behavior.
- You will always be “on” at events, whether you realize it or not. You will scan the room for excessively dangerous play, consent issues, clueless behavior, creepers, etc. even if you’re not working a DM shift. You will be called on to put out small fires all night.
- People will look to you for guidance, good example, and education. You will need to have your shit together.
- There will eventually be a medical problem at one of your events. Be ready. When it happens, everyone will get the deer-in-the-headlights expression and look at you. I recommend knowing CPR and defibrillator use, the heimlich, and basic first aid. Learn the symptoms of various neurological (spinal cord and brain) injuries, as they can mess up your day quite a bit.
So why do it? I can’t speak for others. Here are my reasons:
- I have a soft spot for new people, as I had a tough time myself when I was first breaking into the community. I nearly gave up on it soon after joining; I don’t want others to do that.
- I want to give back to the community that has benefited me.
- I enjoy the fact that I’m helping to take a bite out of all the crotchwagons who try to vomit their venom all over the place.
- There is also the basic realization I had when it comes to some special-interest groups: If I don’t do it, no one else will. If you want to make it happen, you have to get off your ass and do it.
- Running things serves as an ice-breaker. I suck at small talk and meeting people. Running events introduces me to more people than I’d meet normally.
- I like educating, chipping away at stereotypes and misconceptions, and helping to break stigma. All the mistakes I made (and continue to make) can be useful tools for teaching others to not make those same mistakes themselves.