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Fun fact: Jack Bauer majored in English Literature. This obviously qualified him for Navy Seal training.

When I finished my English and Creative Writing degree and started looking for passing work, I dallied with the idea of becoming a spy.

This translates as ‘I looked at the MI5/6 websites’.

Once you get over the day that British Military Intelligence openly recruit over the internet, like they are normal employers, you realise that there are three ways to join.

Apply for a civilian support staff role. The example given was ‘canteen and janitorial staff’. You still have to sign the official secrets act.

Apply for an analyst position. Here you need good qualifications in applicable subjects. You sit behind a desk and produce reports. You have to sign advanced security agreements and cannot have any Irish relations.

Join some other branch of the British Military, excel at your role and meet certain psychological criteria. At this level I think you have to pinky swear to the Queen. If you quit, you wake up in The Village.

In the end, I didn’t apply to MI5 or MI6. I’m simply not the right person. One of the criteria for recruitment is that you don’t tell people who you work for, and here I am writing a blog post about it.

Every now and then, though, my CV gets picked up by an automated search and some computer somewhere suggests that I apply for a role with the Security Service or the Secret Intelligence Service. This is obviously because of comparisons with Jack Bauer. I told my mother that English and Creative Writing were the magic ingredients that baked a successful cake career.

Like recruiting into the intelligence community, introducing new players to the hobby takes careful handling and practised finesse.

Let’s look at how intelligence agencies identify and recruit new HUMINT and apply it to getting Dave at work to join your weekly Pathfinder game.

Spotting

The recruiting process typically begins with “spotting”. Spotting is the identification of targets–people–who appear to have access to information, or are attractive for some support role.

Look at the people around you and see if they already sympathise with your ideology: they might play Skyrim or Diablo or read/watch Game of Thrones. These are levers that you can use to reposition your target.

Development

Development, the preparation for actual recruiting, involves a direct approach by a case officer who has some existing access to the potential recruit, an indirect approach through an access agent or proprietary, or has reason to risk a “cold” approach. Before the direct recruitment, there may be a delicate period of development.

At this stage of recruitment, someone with an established relationship with the target opens lines of communication based on the identified weak point: OMG, I rewatched the Red Wedding last night. What race do you play? I’m a level 80 vampire with three Daedric artifacts.

Strike up a regular exchange on these terms, then slowly introduce the idea of pen and paper RPG and how they compliment the ‘shared interest’.

The end goal is for the target to acknowledge that their interest has clear crossovers with the hobby. You may wish to deploy Venn Diagrams at this point.

Recruitment

If the decision is made to make a formal recruitment, the case officer gets the developmental accustomed to meeting in more obscure places and at more unusual times. These can have the function of countersurveillance, during which additional officers may be watching the meeting, and the travel to it, for evidence of “country A” counterintelligence interest. Without the developmental fully realizing it, he is being drawn into increasingly treasonous activity, which would be harder and harder to explain were he caught. It is considered important for the case officer to offer money, perhaps dismissed as covering expenses, but really as a means of compromising the developmental.

Once the potential recruit has displayed clear RPG sympathies, you need to introduce RPG paraphernalia into their environment. Arrange to meet near FLGS and ‘pop in’ whilst you’re passing. Carry a RPG book with attractive art and high production values around with you, let them see how beautiful the hobby can be. Introduce them to other gamers, skilled in the seductive art of trash talk and banter. Make the target feel as though they could become part of an inclusive and welcoming community.

At this point, overtly assert that the target would enjoy RPGs, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a spare seat at your table. It’s like the stars are right.

Nook – Tool using higher primate

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