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The Mystery of the Missing Buy-In

Uninvested players is the surest and swiftest way to find your game dead-on-arrival. Every campaign requires a certain amount of buy-in: the amount of time, effort, or mental energy the players are willing to devote to your game. For a lot of games, the buy-in can be little-to-none; one-shots, MicroRPGs, and games taking place in familiar universes all have an extremely low buy-in because the players don’t have to put in a lot of effort to enjoy them.

Thus is the problem I run into time and time again: I want a higher buy-in. I want my friends and players to want to get invested in the story, to offer advice and criticism into the way the story is going. I desperately wish that the groups I play with would write backstories for their characters, or detail aspects of the world around them. I want to create a world full of blank spaces, and have the Players fill in those spaces with their own themes and characters, as to enrich the game as a whole.

But, alas, I’m afraid that this is something that I may never find. Online games are too much work for anyone, including myself, to maintain a lot of effort over an extended time, and here in meat-space I find my options for players are always thin on the ground. I want a group of artists: writers, illustrators, and world-builders who want to create a living, breathing world that we can all enjoy together. I don’t want my players to be simple consumers, I want them to pour themselves into the fantasy and make it their own.

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