Earlier this month, we looked at food and gaming. What part, if any, did communal meals have with your gaming group? For the old Shadowrun group, we gathered together to share meals with each other. Which got me to thinking about the other rituals we do when gaming.

Our home group in Arizona gathered in the evening, midweek. We’d catch up and chat with each other and then by 7:30, we’d have what we called Go/No Go. If we wanted to play the game, we’d jump in at that time. If we wanted to keep chatting, we’d shelve the game for the week and just keep having fun.

But if we go on, we enter our transition space.

target entrance

When you enter a big box store like Walmart, Target, or Home Depot, you don’t really mentally adjust to being in the store the moment you walk in. There’s a lot going on when you cross the threshold. You enter a store and you slow your pace, there’s a change in light and noise, there’s all this new stimuli bombarding you. It actually takes a few seconds until you are fully there in the store.

Take a good look at those big box stores — these big chains have studied this stuff and have planned their stores accordingly. When I walk into my local Target store, here’s what I see: First there’s the large entryway: There’s doors to the outside, a space of about twenty feet where there’s nothing, and then doors to the inside of the store. ((While this is to help regulate the temperature in the store, it also provides that transition.)) But then when I’m actually in the store, the next twenty feet have a different carpeting than anywhere else in the store. There’s nothing for sale here. The next fifteen feet is that dollar store section: it’s little stuff for sale, but it’s not what you’re really there for. Once you’re in or past that, your mind has caught up and is ready for the shopping experience.

At the game table, we transition from our socializing to our gaming. Games like Primetime Adventures have an established ruleset for this with Previously On…, where we go around the table (at least when I ran that game) and everyone threw in something from the last game. Our PTA game would finish with that bit and I’d have someone say “And now, on Zurvivor…” and by that time, we’d all be mentally in the game.

We picked up on using television as language for our games. The Lenses campaign had “everyone is gathered around the television as the set warmed up” as our show — what we were about to play that night — came on. Those words each game session really helped the transition from chit chat to gaming. ((My other favorite was Blue Planet, where I had a guy kind of like Bruce Campbell’s Sam Axe character from Burn Notice telling about his time back on Posiedon. Each epsiode of the show was the game session we were playing. And because of transhumanism, any of our protagonists could have been that Sam Axe in the future.))

One other game group I was part of gathered in the living room, where we would chat for a while until the GM invited us to the table. We’d physically get up and walk over to the game space. It was a minute or two to that let us make that move through a decompression zone to get into the game state of mind.

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