So you've decided to jump into the crazy world of tabletop role-playing games. You've chosen the game that you want to play, be it an edition of Dungeons & Dragons, something more science-fiction-ey like Shadowrun or Cyberpunk, or an indie game like Burning Wheel. You've got a set of polyhedral dice and all of the rulebooks. The only problem is finding a group of people to play with. While this can be a daunting challenge, especially if all you want to do is "just play," there are a bunch of strategies that can help you jump this hurdle and get into the game.
The best and easiest solution for many first-time players is to get invited to a group that already meets regularly. If you are fortunate enough to know people who play, even if they are acquaintances, you can ask to join the group. I know it isn't easy to take that first step, but most role-players know that it can be hard to find a group, and will be more than happy to offer assistance. At first, you can ask the GM to sit in on a session to see if it fits your idea of a tabletop game, and to see if your personality fits in with the group as a whole.
Most games are happy to add players, unless there are already too many people involved. It's generally a good idea to limit participants in a game to a manageable number, you see. With too many players, it's easy for one sensitive flower to feel slighted when they don't feel like they have a significant role in the group. A large group can also get unwieldy, especially if the group is prone to spontaneous Monty Python quotes and general tomfoolery. And what group of dorks isn't, really?
So don't take it personally when the GM says that his game is full; it's in everyone's best interest not to crowd the table. With everyone's busy schedules, however, it never hurts to have a large pool of players so that there is always a good number of players available if one or more are forced to cancel. Even if you only play once or twice, there may be a player who runs a different game on another night, and meeting him or her around the table is a great way to get asked to join that group.
If for some reason your circle of friends lives in a tabletop vacuum, don't worry, you do have options. When I moved to New York City, I didn't know anyone who played RPGs. I had tried to convince my friends to play with me, but, sadly, they were not interested in killing dragons and pretending to be elves. There are only so many nights that I can go to the bar or sit around watching baseball, so I was forced to get out there and find a group of like-minded individuals in order to stretch out my nerd muscles.
I started by searching online, as you do. Putting "D&D" and "looking for players" in the Google search bar, I quickly found a great website called NerdNYC.com. Other then being a loyal forum community that discusses all things dork with humor and friendliness, NerdNYC had a forum specifically set up to introduce players and GMs. They split it up into two forums, players looking for games and games looking for players. And it works like a charm. I found a game almost immediately by looking through the forum and picking one that seemed to match my style. I met with a few guys at a neutral place: the comic book store, (always a good idea when meeting someone over the internet. I hate to be the voice of reason, but crazy people do exist). Once the pleasantries were exchanged and potential characters discussed, we were gaming together in less than a week.