The GM is Responsible for Making Sure Everyone Has FunThis is the first and last law of GMing. Every good GM realizes their art is a largely selfless craft. If there is a problem, it the GM's problem. I learned that lesson a long time ago, but I failed to apply it to group management, focusing solely on the plot, setup, mechanics, and so forth. Previously I had gamed with either existing groups with a long history, or with friends I knew well. I didn't have experience managing player conflicts or new groups, and I had trouble until I pulled my head out of the sand and made those issues my problem.
Yes, it'd be nice if everyone behaved and got along with each other, but they don't, and someone has to fix that. By which I mean that I, the GM, have to fix that. There are other problems that came up, but most of them were fixable once I realized that I had the responsibility to make the game happen, including players and player dynamics. When you're moving to a new medium of play, make sure to remember that.
I wasn't an inconsistent GM, but I didn't go the extra mile to make sure the game happened at first. Now I've made it a requirement for myself. If there won't be a game, its because I didn't run it, and I told everyone well in advance: at least 48 hours in advance (though I might have once had to do 24) and hopefully a full week.
I don't know why this is, but I've found it important to remind players to come to the game. A simple email or line in the game chat works wonders: people show up on time, they tell you if they're going to be late or miss the game, and that half-hour of windup becomes an hour of play. A penny of reminder is worth a pound of play. I wish I'd realized this earlier. Its so easy to email or send a chat message along the lines of "I'm looking forward to tonight!"
Small Talk is Important
|Gaming is at its core a social activity|
The Players You Want are Out There, But it may Take TimeWhen I started GMing, I made some bad mistakes. I took too many players into my group at once. I played a campaign I really wasn't gung-ho about. I made those mistakes because I was afraid of having no one or only one person show up to game night. The thing is: people will eventually come. If you're being a good GM and worrying about making sure the players are having a good time, the right players will show up. For me it probably took about 12 months. It might have taken less if I knew more about building online groups, and I wasn't sure I had a good group until a few months after that. I have fairly stringent demands: we play for two hours on Tuesday from 7 to 9 central time, and I have a low-combat, high-investigation play style. So I had a reasonably hard slot to fill. But people who wanted and enjoyed that style of game in that time slot were out there, and I eventually found them.
I also noticed when looking for players that the school year has a huge effect on things. Remember this and don't be discouraged: your players will come. Just be a good GM and keep trying.
AcknowledgementsI did not figure this all out on my own. I had advice from a number of folks. Some of them were players. Some of them were bloggers. Some of them were forumites. Special credit goes to Mailanka, who reminded me about the GM's duty to make the game work when I was trying get by with the minimum of work. If you haven't checked out his blog, you really ought to do so.
I hope all the GM's looking for players find them, and I hope all the players looking for good GM's find them as well. The internet is a marvelous thing, if we can only figure out the best ways to use it. Good Luck!