Monday, July 26, 2010

#$%#$% players: Death knell to the hobby

So I would like to start by pointing out I include GM’s as players. I am of course referencing “dick players” in the sense of people who you would not in any way voluntarily associate with if not for gaming. This is brought on by this post.

All hobbies attract their share of d-bags. I have mentioned several times I enjoy poker; any public poker game will have many, many irritating jackholes at the table. Most con-games will feature what fear the boot has dubbed “that guy”. But for some reason gaming has an expectation that you should play with such creeps while other hobbies do not. No one would seriously expect to invite some jerkwad to a private poker game in your home just because “he likes poker too”, yet in gaming we see this as being mandatory, especially in some corners of the blogosphere. Since I am not passive aggressive in this case I will mention James Raggi over at LotFP, who while an inspiring person and worthy of praise for putting his money where his mouth is, does share a different view on gaming groups that I do.

The reason I mention him above the handful of others is that he is a big fan of growing the hobby and has taken real and serious effort (and great personal expense) trying to do just that. And my problem with the philosophy of it being no excuse to not play just because some of the players are creeps is that is kills the hobby. Probably the number one inhibitor to the hobby is its image and reputation of being the domain of people that you would not want to spend time with, aka the “Comic book guy” from the Simpsons.

The phrase “birds of a feather flock together” is always on people’s minds, and if you bring a new player to a group of 4 normal people and 1 creep it won’t make the person think the creep is a-ok. They are going to think “That guy is an irritating and perverted creep, and those 4 people choose to spend 5 hours a week hanging out with him”. This isn’t gaming specific; it deals with any organization or group of people. If you go to a book club and one of the people there is a Klansmen, you won’t care how normal the other eight people are, if you go to a karate class and one of the people is a bully who tries to pick fights, you will have a bad view of karate and you’d be right to have it. It wasn’t just that one person was a bully; it is that everyone else seemed ok with that behaviour. Likewise if you spend your time with a creepy combative pervert to play a game, you are implying that you don’t think there is anything wrong with that kind of behaviour...and that says a lot about you.

This has a knock on problem where one person’s bad behaviour will infect the actions of the whole group. They will start to become combative themselves as a defense mechanism. They then move onto other groups themselves and spread bad behaviour (though if mild enough it can sometimes be cured by a fresh group). This is something I do try to deal with in Piecemeal, and I will touch on some of the ways with my next post.


  1. Agree and agree. I know for my own personal gaming I've had the incredible fortune of gaming with the same guys for 30 years now. We introduced a new member a few months back and he has been an excellent addition. My day job I deal with a lot of difficult personalities and, I'll use your term, jerkwads that I just want to have fun and laugh and avoid getting killed.

    To give an example about having that guy included in a game. I went to a con and that guy was GMing. And he proved to be vile, rude and about as fun as swallowing a handful of hornets. He would ask what you wanted to do and would sometimes make a snickering noise and through the NPC call you an idiot or insult you. Some of the people were new to the hobby and left the table with that as their first impression of gaming.

  2. And this is exactly why I don't pay to play WoW, or participate in large, public live action events. I can't have any say in my gaming partners, but because it's a public forum, I have to play with whoever shows up... even if they're all, "that guy."

    I still run into this problem occasionally at conventions, but over the years I've gotten pretty good at spotting the problem, and when a game is like that, I'll get up and walk away -- and sometimes take the new people with me, to show them a new game, and a better GM.

    Don't hate the "d-bags" hate the people who are too passive aggressive to stand up to them.

  3. At gaming conventions, I can usually handle "that guy" as I'm pretty open and tolerant, but at the home, I cannot afford to be tolerant in the slightest.

    I completely agree with the comment that essentially one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. I have to consider the feelings of my non-gaming wife in that if she doesn't feel safe around anyone at the gaming table, they have to go. This is one of the reasons why we don't have gaming at my house.

    In order for me to be comfortable around someone, it has to be someone who I can just hang out with on any other kind of activity other than gaming. If the honest answer is no, then that person has got to go.

  4. I absolutely agree.

    I suspect a lot of gamers probably grew up as "outsiders" in their school hierarchy and that they want to be more inclusive of others as a result (especially since it can be hard finding others who share your geeky enthusiasms). However, there comes a point when people need to grow up and act like adults, and turning a blind eye to that creepy, smelly, rude, selfish player is only allowing them to keep being creepy, smelly, rude, and selfish.

  5. Wow, my story is really getting around...

    But well said and insightful, Z. As Yong says above, if you wouldn't go hang at a bar or a theater with the player, they gots ta go!

    About a third of the people I have met the few times I went to cons I wouldn't even want using my bathroom.