My friends are painfully aware of the fact that Sundays tend to be non-negotiable family days for me. It’s a Traditional Catholic Family thing, it’s a Pinoy Family (specifically, Batangeno) Thing, and it’s an “I Am the Only Daughter In This Brood” Thing. Hence, you can imagine how sad I got when I heard that Gamers and GMs Philippines holds their mini conventions exclusively on Sundays. This yearning only increased after What’s a Geek released on article on one of their mini-conventions late last year. However, this time around, I got lucky just in time for Love and Gaming, their most recent event.
In my experience, tabletop roleplaying has always stayed on the fringes of the geek scene. Beyond the fact that it’s difficult to explain even to other geeks, it also takes effort to get involved in a gaming group, much less run a campaign for longer than a single session. Furthermore, most folks gravitate towards TCGs, tabletop strategy games like Warhammer, or board games over pen-and-paper RPGs. Others are interested, but don’t really have access to people who can show them what tabletop RPGs are all about. Gamers and GMs Philippines doesn’t just provide a space for people to get their feet wet and experience a campaign: they also host talks that are geared towards helping players and GMs/Storytellers become better at the table. Love and Gaming, for example, had talks about story construction, and handling romance and intimacy as roleplayers. The convention even had a workshop on Dramaturgy and RPGs!
And of course, it’s not just a matter of hosting panel discussions/lectures to begin with, but the content of these discussions. I was told that Gamers and GMs Philippines is all about providing a safe space for people to talk about what it’s like to be enthusiasts of pen-and-paper RPGs, engage in discourse on tabletop, and bring up issues that they normally wouldn’t be able to do. I wasn’t disappointed.
Anyway, as mentioned above, for those of you who are tired of the special sort of stress (hell) that comes with scheduling campaigns or looking for groups to play with and you’re just looking for an excuse to roll some dice, Gamers and GMs Philippines makes it a point to provide us with many opportunities to enjoy themselves in excellently constructed oneshots with no strings attached whatsoever. You don’t even have to prepare a character beforehand: most of the GMs that they get for their conventions have pre-generated characters, or will devote some time before the session to build somebody that you’d like to be for the next few hours.
Their organizers, their speakers, and the GMs running one shots represented a healthy range of sensibilities and positions. They are not shy about discussing topics that most players try to avoid, or feel uncomfortable about. Heck, what OTHER group would dare to discuss roleplaying romance in a smart, candid fashion in this country? What other group can offer people really effective means of developing characters and storyboards for their own campaigns? Furthermore, when has anyone managed to find a group willing to do all of this, and are always open to feedback on how they can improve their conventions? I don’t know about you, but I’m one to appreciate a progressive, competent lot that’s always out to better themselves and give their fellow geeks more fun things to try out. Friendly, geeky spaces deserve more attention.
This also needs to be said, especially since I’m a girl gamer, and I identify as bisexual: beyond the beauty of their enthusiastic discussions on tabletop gaming, mini-conventions by Gamers and GMs Philippines are breathtakingly inclusive. Only too many tabletop gamers fit the stereotype of distressingly heterosexual male gatekeeper, especially with their propensity of their conventions to be ridiculous sausage fests. Love and Gaming did not have that vibe at all, and they do seem to be out to foster an environment that frowns upon bringing old biases and prejudices to the table. If the participants look a little skewed in favor of straight guys for an observer, I believe that’s hardly a reflection on the organizers. Us straight girl and LGBTQ tabletop gamers should just pile on down here to – and I’m only saying this because there’s no other way to put it – “even the odds”. We’ve got nothing to be worried about with this group.
Gamers and GMs Philippines generally holds their mini-conventions once a month, give or take long vacations, the busy levels of the organizers, and logistical concerns. In fact, while they won’t be hosting something in March, they’ve got a really interesting event planned this April. Three of their GMs are going to host a shared storyline across their individual campaigns for two sessions, and I do believe that they’re looking for players. They’re also always on the lookout for more people who are willing to host a discussion, or a newbie-friendly oneshot campaign for any system during any of their other events, be it World of Darkness, Dungeon World, Dungeons & Dragons, Fate, or whatever else. I’ve also confirmed with the organizers that they’re fine with GMs testing out their homebrew systems on interested participants. This is a huge selling point for me since I’m interested in game development, and in making my own settings and systems that cater to gender, cultural, and racial demographics that the general tabletop market hasn’t quite managed to tap into yet. I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in this.
In case you’ve still got doubts about whether their events are worth going to, I’ve included recordings of some of the talks. This first one was done by Adrian, as an intro to tabletop roleplaying games:
This second one is “The Game of Love” by Tobie, which I mentioned above.
And this last one is by Jay. It tackles story construction!
Did you love what you just watched? Spread the word and come to their conventions in the future! Chances are I’ll see you there.
Credit for the featured image and all images in this post save for the picture of their program + Storm goes to the admin team of Gamers and GMs Philippines team. More pictures of the Love and Gaming event can be found in this album. The videos were uploaded to YouTube by the Gamers and GMs Philippines team.