Wait. What’s all this?
Ministry of Game started as a twinkle in a few people’s eyes all at once. There are two parallel stories that lead to the creation of Ministry of Game.
One day while surfing the web, a long time gamer in Hornsby found the website nearbygamers.com and was startled to realise that there was another gamer marked out in Hornsby. Thinking it would be good to meet this nearby gamer, he scrolled in, only to find that it was in fact himself, and that he had put himself there a year or two before and forgotten about it. Bummer. However, in the next suburb along, there was another gamer who had just two days before put up a post looking for people to play in his new D&D game. “Joining a game of complete strangers who meet over the internet? Sounds like a novel idea,” thought the gamer, and he and his wife signed up.
“So what?” you might think, “Viva the internet for bringing us all closer together.” Well, the thing is that more than twenty people replied wanting to play in this game. That’s a lot of people for a local game in Hornsby! Even months after the game had started, people were still contacting, wanting to come and play. The problem was obvious – too many gamers, not enough games.
At the same time, a couple of other gamers were sitting around thinking, “I wonder if there is anything we as Christians can do for gamers?” We all know that there has been long-running tension between the Church (as a general institution) and gamers (as an intelligent, disparate minority subculture). Wouldn’t it be nice if something could be done to start building bridges of understanding between Christians and gamers?
One day this all came up in discussion one day after a game of D&D. The conversation basically went:
“You know, we’ve been thinking about what we can do as Christians to help gamers.”
“Oh yeah? Well, we’ve been playing in this game where everyone found out about it online. There’s way more gamers out there than there are games for them, apparently.”
“Wait, how many GMs do we have just sitting around the table here?”
“Ummmm… four? And more who could probably run a game if they wanted.”
“So… we have like a half a dozen GMs right here, and we’ve got them all locked up in this one game?”
“We should all run games in the same place, so that more people get to play.”
“You know, we could just use a church building.”
“Our church has a bunch of separate rooms.”
“Yeah, and we could cook a meal and all the players and GMs could eat together so they can get to know each other.”
“And it might help gamers realise that not all Christians hate gamers and think D&D is evil.”
“It would be good for the church to actually be giving something to the gamer community.”
And it was a good idea. But unlike most good ideas, we didn’t just let this one fall to the floor and get vacuumed up with dropped chips and popcorn. We thought about it, we discussed it, we organised it, and now we’re running it. Huzzah!
Ministry of Game is an organised group of friends that wants to help gamers in the north shore of Sydney meet other people who enjoy our hobbies for the purpose of playing games and making friends who share their interests.
The organisers are wanting to serve the local gaming community by ensuring that the games are run in a safe environment where everyone involved can have fun and make friends.
As Christians, the organisers are keen to build bridges of understanding between the church and the gaming subculture, to mend old wounds between the two, and to help the church meet the needs of gamers.
With these things in mind, Ministry of Game has something of a guiding philosophy to help it meet its goals.
Yes, the games are run in a church, and the organisers are unapologetically Christian. Ministry of Game does not exist to preach sermons at people, though. It exists so that people can have fun, meet friends, and enjoy their hobby in a safe place. You definitely don’t have to be Christian to come to Ministry of Game – you can believe whatever you want. But it is God’s house, so all we’d ask is you show some courtesy and don’t badmouth the beliefs of the people running the show. Or anyone else’s, for that matter.
One of the things we want from Ministry of Game is for it to be a safe place. Not safe from hungry, roaming velociraptors or zombie apocalypse (we make no guarantees on this), but a place where people feel they can be themselves, play their games, have fun and relax without having to worry about being offended, marginalised, frowned at, judged, or ridiculed. It’s a place where people should be treated with respect and dignity.
Now, because we’ll be playing roleplaying games, it is important to make one or two things clear. What happens in the games that are run is NOT REAL. Even if you’re playing in a World of Darkness game based loosely on the real world, the characters, storylines and events that occur are fiction. As such, everyone has to take what happens in them with a grain of salt. A character might have a good reason to be racist (you’re playing an American Civil War game, for example), or certain beliefs, ideas, actions or groups might be mocked in game. We understand that. All we ask, though, is that you keep people’s feelings in mind. For example, swearing is sometimes unavoidable, and can do a lot to set ambience or express anger or exasperation, but don’t chain together thirty insults and throw them in another player’s face.
We’re all smart, free-thinking gamers here. Use your commonsense and be nice to each other. If someone says, “Hey, that wasn’t very nice,” or, “That’s kind of offensive,” then don’t get into a huff about it – just apologise and we’ll all get on with the games.
Ministry of Game believes that hard-working gamers who are lucky enough to get paid full-time to make games should be paid appropriately for their labours. Who knows? Maybe some day one or two of us might end up in those jealously held positions in the game industry, or running our own gaming store. For this reason, Ministry of Game only allows officially purchased game materials. So don’t turn up with a photocopy of the entire rulebook, please. Go out and buy it. Yes, even if the money is going to end up going to Hasbro or Microsoft or Viacom or some other faceless multinational.
Fun, Fun, Fun
Everyone comes to play games and have fun. People aren’t coming to have arguments, get upset, throw tantrums, and hurt one another. High-spirited debates and jocular joking is fun, but it’s only fun when everyone is laughing. If you’re coming looking for an argument, join a debating society. Obviously if someone is interested in your opinion, then share it! Just remember that the aim of the games is for everyone to have fun and enjoy themselves.
Who can play in these wonderful games?
Anyone! Well, actually, anyone over 18. This is for a number of reasons: child protection laws put a limit on who we would be able to have run our games; and we run on school nights during school term, and we’d rather not distract students from their studies. So our focus is on adults. But the moment you turn 18, head on over!
How much does it cost to play?
Nothing! The church gives us the building for free, so we don’t have to pay rent, so long as we keep it clean.
What about dinner?
Yes, okay, dinner will cost you something, just so we can recoup our costs on it. We’ll also probably keep drinks cold there so you can buy them. This isn’t a money-making exercise, though – the idea is that we have some out-of-game time to make friends. Any spare money will be reinvested back in to Ministry of Game.
Do I have to turn up for dinner?
No! If you don’t want nice food, at a reasonable price, and the chance to eat it with other gamers, then by all means you are welcome to turn up just in time for your game – or turn up early and watch us eat the delicious food.
Can I bring my own food?
Sure! In fact, we encourage people to bring snacks for their games, since roleplaying isn’t roleplaying without snacks. Just don’t make a mess you’re not prepared to clean up. And yes, you can bring your own drinks – like we said, we’re not in this to make money. We’ll only sell drinks for convenience sake.
Are the games at Ministry of Game one-off adventures, or ongoing campaigns?
While this is really up to the GM of the game, the plan is that the games are run over at least a term, so that people get to play with the same group, see their characters grow, and so on. Ask your GM how long they think their game will go for.
What happens if the GM of my game can’t make it this week?
We’re planning on having a bunch of board and card games hanging around for people to play in such a situation. So even if your GM can’t make it, there will still be fun for those who turn up in their group.
Wait, what’s a GM?
GM stands for ‘game master’. D&D generally calls them DM (‘dungeon master’), whereas other games have other names for their game master, like ‘storyteller’, ‘facilitator’, ‘head honcho’, ‘rules lawyer supremo’ – there’s so many titles to choose from, we just went with GM as a nice catch-all.
Can I run my adventure at Ministry of Game?
So long as you are prepared to abide by the values of Ministry of Game and of the church (their house, their rules) and we have sufficient space, then we can talk about running more games. Obviously more games running means more people at Ministry of Game, and more gamers to meet. Which is good!
What is the link between Ministry of Game and the church?
Ministry of Game shelters under the church’s public liability insurance and financial structures, uses its tables and chairs, cooks in its kitchen, and respects its beliefs. Basically, the church wants to serve the gaming community by offering what it has to offer. Think of it as the church’s way of saying, “Hey, we’ve got this building and these resources, come and use them for free!” If you want to know more about the church or Christians, they’re nice folk and they’re always up for a chat. But otherwise, just sit back and enjoy the games.
What can I do to help?
Glad you asked! We’re always looking for volunteers to cook the tasty delicious dinners. We’re always looking for volunteers to help clean up afterwards. And since transport to and from the church isn’t the easiest thing in the world for people without cars, if there’s someone who lives near you, or who you can drop off at a bus or train station along the way, that would be pretty cool. If you want to do anything to help, let us know.