How do you introduce a new PC to an existing group? Is it best if the GM takes special measures of some kind to integrate the new and existing characters, or should the GM just allow them to meet and let the players put it all together? Does it matter whether the game is oriented towards character cooperation or character competition?
I have had a lot of experience with dealing with new PCs into existing groups, since in the six years of Strange Bedfellows, I have added quite a number of characters (not all of which sadly have remained). I prefer to allow the new PC to be drawn into the fabric of what other players are doing (or more specifically the poles of existence) in a gradual and slow fashion. Let the character start at a distance, and be drawn into what is happening by degrees. This allows the new player and PC to get acclimated to the pace of my game and the cadence of how I do turns, so when they go live and meet other players, they are already up to speed on how I handle matters. Also, sometimes, its very hard to retcon old relatioships into an old and established set of Player characters. Its easy to do in the early stages of a game where the relationships are fluid, but if, say, Jenn or Ginger were to want to join SB, I would start them at a distance.
I could cite numerous examples from SB. Nicole, playing in a PBEM for the first time, had her PC Dagny start in her home shadow (which was basically Earth) and was drawn into the web of things by her hitherto unknown father, Luke. Via Luke, Dagny got to meet Malachi, went to Amber and met many more PCs. A much more recent example is Deb's PC Leigh. She has been doing her own thing, only recently coming to the Courts from her own shadow...and in the last couple of turns, she has met the signature NPC of Strange Bedfellows, Valerian, and I suspect that meeting some PCs will be forthcoming after that.
I also admit that starting new PCs a little apart from everyone else allows me, the GM to get to know the player and what they like to do with their characters. To cite one more example, I learned of Rob's penchant for dialogue and active minor NPCs when I started William in a shadow that he had been ensconced in for some time. But he, too, eventually ran into other PCs, even though he was out of shadow. A PC practically handed me the tools to send him to where William was, and I took advantage to introduce them together.