“You’re doing it wrong.”
“That’s not how that works”
“You’re rolling your dice wrong.”
“Who the hell taught you how to play this game?”
“Your Fun is Wrong and you should feel bad for doing it that way.”
How many times have you heard one of those thoughts escape from someone’s mouth? How many times have you said this to someone at a shop, or your gaming table, or any of the myriad places you might end up catching a game? Now we’re not saying there aren’t valid times and rationales that mandate correcting a mistaken rule, or checking with someone to make sure they understand the mechanics of a system. However there are very rarely reasonable justifications to self-insert into someone’s game to “Fix Them.”
There are as many reasons to pick up the gaming hobby as there are games to play. Every single one of us is going to play the game for different reasons and to different ends. The thing about this hobby that pulls us together as that we all basically see games as a means to a multifaceted end, and realizing that, we use games to do a ton of different things, and occasionally we play different games for different reasons. Without understanding the rationale behind a decision, you can very easily create hurt feelings and unnecessary stress.
Now we don’t have laws or guiding principles about how you must behave because that is way too rigidly dogmatic for us, and we like to have some flexibility in how we do stuff. We’re huge fans of ideas, (we can change our minds as we work our way through an idea). Laws and principles are way harder to interact with and we’d prefer to avoid that kind of entanglement.
Here are our best thoughts and Ideas for happy gaming
1. Ask questions gently. “Why did you do that?” is generally a much better question than “That was the dumbest move ever, why were you that stupid?” This is doubly so when interacting with people you don’t know. Soft tone of voice and small words are going to keep you from unnecessarily aggravating someone.
2. Consider the other person’s viewpoint before you ask questions. Some of us are super prickly people and some are condescending jerks. Some of us are covering deep insecurities and a variety of other social, emotional, and mental stresses that we use gaming to manage. Again, this is something where observation before questioning might be helpful.
3. Be mindful of the circumstances and the situation you’re walking into. Asking questions around a friendly game of X-wing has much different effect than asking in the last round of the regional championships. Some places are better to ask questions and offer advice than others.
4. Recognize that in every community there are going to be people who’ve decided that making other people miserable is how they process fun. These aren’t the most useful people in the universe but there is no law against having fun, even if it isn’t the way the rest of us do. We all share the gaming community and hobby, and we have to get along with people that aggravate the living daylights out of us.
5. You can learn a lot of things by watching people who are dedicated to a game play it. The internet (Youtube especially) is full of useful folks who love to teach people how to play games. The best ones have positive attitudes and are laughing while they play. Be careful around people who don’t enjoy a game they’re playing, they have a different rationale for playing than you do, and you might accidentally set them off.
Now there’s an important flipside to these ideas, and they’re things that all of us could be better people about being. Just because you’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons since 1968 (Yes we know the game didn’t exist at that point, we’re making a mildly condescending point), the new kid that wandered into the game store with enthusiasm and energy is not a baby seal to be clubbed. He’s going to ask you questions, he may not ask them at the right times. That’s okay, he’s new. So were you.