Book Review: Filling the empty chair by Johnn Four (

When you’re in school, it’s easy to find gamers. I remember playing with people in junior high and high school, in college and even immediately after college. But at some point it starts to get difficult. People have jobs and families and other commitments that don’t let them game as often as they’d like. Or maybe they’ve had to move for some reason (work, family, or school being the big three reasons)… Or perhaps a game has just drifted apart over time as they sometimes do.

How do you find other gamers in your area? Well, Filling the empty chair from Johnn Four of Roleplaying Tips fame ( aims to help you find other like-minded individuals near you to keep your gaming habit alive. Finding a good gaming group is sort of like finding a good pair of sneakers. You may have to try a few out before you find a good fit, and even then they may wear out over time. But don’t be discouraged… As Four says in his Introduction, “Gaming is too important as part of living a balanced, healthy and enjoyable life. Do not let it go by the wayside.”

The book starts by providing a list of eight pages of some of the best websites for finding gamers online. Sites include everything from some of the RPG-related sites and to and I’d never heard of many of the sites listed, but hope to take advantage of some of them to put a new group together myself.

The bulk of the book however is dedicated to tips on finding a group or recruiting players. The 28 tips included cover everything from having business cards you can pass out if you find someone who’s interested to hanging out in game or bookstores to inviting your family and non-gaming friends to join you. It’s never too late (or too early) to bring new people to the hobby.

Advertising that you’re looking for a group or for players is like most other advertising endeavors. You have to repeat your message everywhere you go, get people’s attention, and be willing to talk to complete strangers. Using business cards (tip #1) and creating a t-shirt (tip #18) are great ideas, as are hosting a board game or card game night (tip #10) or organizing an introduction to RPGs workshop (tip #7) to bring people together.

But these tips only work if you’re willing to work with them. Even some of the options like advertising in stores (tip #2), going to the library (tip #3), and placing ads on some of the website listed earlier are all great ideas – but you have to follow up on them. The “If you build it, they will come” philosophy doesn’t always work by itself…

And the last major section focuses on building a successful online profile that you can post on some of the websites, a blog, or on other social media options. These tips are more of the “common sense” variety and should also be viewed as advertising. If you see a misspelling on a sign are you more or less likely to pay attention to the message it’s trying to convey? I’m guessing most people are less inclined.

When I moved to Arizona back in 2001, I wish I had something like this book to help me find a gaming group. As it was, I did use (which is listed among the websites in the book) to find a group on a couple of occasions, but neither group was a good fit and they didn’t last more than a session or two. However, now I have more tools in the arsenal.

Filling the empty chair is available in electronic form (PDF) at the site here for $7.00 USD. Considering that 7 bucks is about the cost of a small paperback or a beefy meal at a fast food restaurant
these days, it’s a minimal investment in my book and well worth the cost for a great collection of tips.

(By the way, if you’re looking for gamers in the Colorado Springs, Colorado area – be sure to check out The Colorado Springs RPG Meetup. There are some great folks involved and they’d love to have you join them!)

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5 comments to Book Review: Filling the empty chair by Johnn Four (

  • Sounds like a cool book, and definately a universal experience. I played for a dozen years with barely a thought as to where to find players, then one day at 23 I suddenly realized that I had no one to play with. For five years I struggled to find players through every method I could think of(including those you listed) till one day I realised the error in my ways…

    When I was a kid I never had trouble finding gamers because I wasn’t looking for gamers. I made other people into gamers to support my hobby. I started doing this again seven years ago, and have never been wanting for players ever since.

    • admin

      @The Red DM – Very very true. I think bringing people into the hobby is sometimes far easier than finding people who are already in it. 🙂

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