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Gaming Down Under Print
Written by Sadhbh Warren   
Oct 09, 2009 at 04:53 AM
Gaming Down Under – the social way to play!

It’s a dark and stormy night.

I’m in Sydney and lost in a maze of streets and closed malls. I have no idea what my contacts look like, what their real names are, or if they will turn out to be friends or foes.

Be there at nine, they said. And I am.

Two men walk out of an alley and towards me. One’s tall and blond, the other shorter; dark haired and dark eyed. They both wear long black trench coats in the Sydney summer night heat. That’s the giveaway. It has to be them.

Here goes. I shove on my friendliest smile. “Howya, I’m Sadhbh. The random new Irish gamer in town?”

And that’s how I met the Australian Camarilla, and Australian gamers in general.

While I’m from Cork (like), I’ve spent most of the last four years city hopping in Australia. It’s a bit bizarre to find yourself on the opposite side of the planet with no friends. How the hell do you meet new people? I’ve tried the drinking in bars alone thing and the putting ad’s online thing (and do I have some stories if you have three hours to spare and strong stomach) but by far the best method I have found is looking up the games clubs in every city you visit.

Finding a game in a city that I’m visiting makes my life a whole lot easier and lot more lively. The great thing about the gaming, and the thing that people tend to lose sight of when they start talking about gamers and types of gaming and frothing about cliques, is that gaming is generally a social hobby devoted to making people have fun.

Okay, for some people, fun is a quick board game and for others it’s a lengthy LARP bitch fest only slightly ruined by the fact that your fangs are making you lisp (a pint to anyone who can say the word “Priscus” with fangs without drowning everyone in the group in spit) but it’s still fun.

Both in and out of games, I’ve met people who have made me laugh and cry. I’ve been adopted by various gamers, and brought to games and convention and be shown around cities from Perth to Brisbane. I’ve joined in table top campaigns for a few weeks, and made friends for life. I’ve played D&D in Melbourne and lost my sanity in Canberra.

(Look at Canberra on a map and tell me that street layout isn’t a sigil to summon Cthulhu. Seriously. They even built a huge artificial lake in the middle of the place for the fishmen.)

I would cheerfully recommend being a travelling gamer to anyone. Okay, on the downside, you spend your entire time learning everyone’s names in character and then have to do it again OUT of character. And they have no Barry’s tea here for those long game sessions. Lipton is the brew of choice, which is to a decent cup of tea what the D&D movie was to playing the game.

Lipton tea leaves are what you get if you get a bald monkey, stuff him with caffeine suppositories, get him good and sunburnt and then scrap all the flakey bits of skin off into a bag. The stuff is foul.

On a slightly more serious note and non-tea related note, the generosity of the role-players in Australia has astounded me. I have been helped with everything from character creation to finding a flat and job. I have been given crash space and tips on how to get my apartment cockroach free. While we get together to game and merrily stab each other in the back, I have had nothing but friendship and friendly assistance offered by the various players I have met out of game.

And sometimes more than friendly assistance, but let’s not get into that. Although “Join the Camarilla, get a Hawt Australian free” could be a great advertising campaign. I’m just saying.

This approach did run into issues when I ended up 500 hundred miles inland in a place called Wagga Wagga but I am hopeful that someday there will be a Camarilla chapter or gaming society there. It certainly has enough local wankgst to start one off, although declaring yourself the Dungeon Master of Wagga Wagga may be a sure way to get your back yard dug up by very serious men in bio-hazard gear looking for missing backpackers.

Just try to remember not to ask them for a lend of their stuff as “props”. No matter how Steampunk they are. Gaming in Australia isn’t all that different. Steampunk is big and heavily costumed, D&D has a loyal following, some people spend the weekend in fields hitting each other with rubber swords and some people spend the weekend war gaming.

There are conventions here, a great place to try new games and catch up, where people stay up all night and GM’s complain when no one makes the Sunday morning slot. There are Tuesday night role-playing sessions (regretfully without Barry’s tea). There are people carefully closing the curtains to block the light from their monitor to sit down and play World of Warcrack with friends. There are vampires and werewolves and mages, oh my!

And there’s me. On the opposite side of the planet and pretty happy that my hobby makes it so easy to meet people and have fun. If you didn’t think of gaming as a sociable hobby, come to Australia and I’ll show you how those skills and interests from home translate into fun when you travel.

Just remember to bring me some Barry’s tea when you come.

Sadhbh Warren is from Cork. Having done time on the WARPS and WARPCon Committees while in UCC, she has spent the five years having fun on several continents. Last seen in Sydney, she has variously worked as an EA, PA, travelling carnie and one of Santa's Elves, and occasionally drops in on gaming groups and Conventions and refuses to leave until all the beer is gone.


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