[RPG Blog Carnival] How Far Will You Travel to Game?

This month's theme is travel and games and travel in games.

How far will you travel to play a game? The answer has varied for me over the years. I have, on occasion, found myself on the road alone or carpooling for two hours for a roleplaying session. That was back in the days of an exceptionally engaging Stargate: SG-4 campaign that wandered from St. Johnsbury to Johnson to Montpelier as needed. It was a phenomenally fun game, but ultimately the travel involved put me off staying enaged. Add an hour or two of travel to an evening game that may break up late, and then go to your early morning job a couple times and it’ll take the shine off any recreational activity.

That has since become my rule of thumb for gamers in general. People will travel an hour or two infrequently, but even the energetic ones willing to sign on the long haul often find themselves wanting or having to bow out. It may have something to do with the geography of Vermont and northern New England. Vermont’s a fairly small state, but it can take a bloody long time to get anywhere because we’ve only got two interstates, both running north-south, and a plethora of state and local roads in a wide range of states of decrepitude. Add to that the rough and winding ways so many people live on and it’s no surprise everybody’s so eager to host the weekly game.

Conventions, on the other hand, tend to act like gravity wells. The bigger they are, the greater the draw. TotalCon, based in central-eastish Massachusetts, can draw people all the way down from Burlington; I knew one fellow who, with his regular gaming group, used TotalCon as their annual road trip. The reverse, however, doesn’t hold. I would be greatly surprised to see a high volume from southern New England come as far north as Burlington, even if the Burlington convention scene somehow contrived to rival the scale of a TotalCon or Unity Games. Regardless of scale or quality of offerings, Burlington’s just out the way, tucked in the northwesternmost corner of New England, with a big old lake to the west preventing easy access from that direction and a single high speed corridor connecting the valley to the more populous regions of the southeast.

Similarly, I’ve heard tales on podcasts like Role Playing Public Radio and All Games Considered of eight and ten hour road trips from across the midwest to attend Gen Con in Indianapolis. One of the perks of being the mother of all conventions is all the Mohammeds very cheerfully come to you. Eight hours from Burlington would put one somewhere in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, which works for the World Boardgaming Championships in Lancaster. But then you find yourself up against that New Englander tendency to avoid travel again.


8 thoughts on “[RPG Blog Carnival] How Far Will You Travel to Game?

  1. Yeah, I agree with this. I knew a guy who played in a regular campaign, but he had to drive all the way from Santa Cruz to get to the Bay Area. So when he quit after a few months, it’s understandable.

    I used to drive two hours one way when I lived in KY for a Star Trek game and really enjoyed that, but the other games were too much suckfest that I quit driving. Add traffic and snow and there’s no way I want to go so far as 15 minutes for a game.

    Since I live in CA now, I only drive 15 min and that’s to go pick someone up along the way; otherwise, it’s just less than 5 min to my friend’s house.

    • A thirty to forty minute drive is my effective limit at the moment, before travel plus game time starts to feel like a full day’s event, rather than the relaxing cap to a day.

      I think part of it is what else is going on my life. I used to drive extensively as part of my job, so I came to loathe spending my own free time on the road. Nowadays, I don’t even drive to work, so I’m much more open to the semi-regular hour plus drive for a convention planning meeting or day of games.

  2. I had a game wonderful enough to justify an 60-70 minute commute each way. But in most cases it’s not an option – 30-40 minutes is my max. There is another thing that modifies this – carpooling. If there’s somebody to chat with about the game it makes for a much more fun game.

  3. Last year, the World Boardgaming Championships had people from Israel and Dubai!

    If anyone is going next year… let me know because I’m local and would love to meet gamers face to face I’ve met online!

  4. When I was high school, I used to make a weekly trek from St J to Montpelier (I’m also a Vermonter) for a vampire larp. I’ve also seen someone come over this way from Burlington for a game before.

    Now, I’ll go as far as Burlington to visit friends and while I generally try to get some gaming set up during these trips, seeing people is my primary goal.

    Of course, I don’t drive so I have to find someone else to drive me.

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