I HAVE A CONFESSION!
… I’m Sometimes a Bit of a Troll
The Covid lockdown has allowed me to do a lot of navel-gazing and self-reflection as a human. Keeping this game related allowed me to look at my habits as a player versus my habits as a game master.
I realize I’m not a very good player anymore. It’s something that bums me out and worries me. I’m not as generous as a player as I should be. I’m not as supportive, and I’m more critical when I sit down to play. I’m kinda ashamed. This may all be the maudlin ramblings of a person stuck in their house all day, but it’s something I want off my chest, so I’ve written it down and shared with the universe.
Let me unpack some of these a little.
First off, all this assumes that the game table is healthy, and everyone is putting their best foot forward. If the game table sucks, I have no problem with leaving a toxic environment. This is about me being ruinous at a healthy table.
This is a hypercritical look at myself and doesn’t consider all the good things I think I do. I’m just focusing on the stuff I perceive as bad at the table and wanting to correct for better enjoyment for all.
I don’t support the GM as I should sometimes. I do support the players, but I fail the GM. I tend to back seat drive sometimes and think I would have handled that scene better. I don’t actively sabotage games, but I sometimes say or do things that can feed my self-importance at the table. “This is the way I would have run that” type stuff. It is shitty and annoying, and I’m very sorry for doing it. It’s not overt, but I realize I’m doing it, and it isn’t cool. It is infantile passive-aggressive behavior.
No GM has ever set out to run a terrible game, but sometimes I hold their feet to the fire a bit more than I should. Again, it’s a lack of respect for their abilities and the amount of time and effort they’ve put into the game.
MY GOAL: To stop being that asshole at the table. We are all players at the table, and it is my job to make sure everyone is having fun and being the best version of themselves. I can’t expect everyone to be me or think like me, and I wouldn’t want that if it was possible. The reason I enjoy gaming is that I enjoy the shared space where we make magic happen. I don’t want to pass on this poisonous behavior to others.
As a player, I’m more critical of the games I play. “This could be better,” “Why does the game choose to do X this way?”, “This should play out like this.”
It’s a terrible way to think and a habit I’m not sure where I picked up. When I started doing game design, I can only assume that I started to look more closely at the elements that make up a game and not the game as a holistic whole. I do this with my other media consumption (movies, tv, book, etc.). When I do let go and just allow the content to be what it is, I enjoy it more. Not every dinner needs to be a 4-Star Michelin meal; sometimes, all you need is a fried bologna sandwich.
My Goal: To allow the game to be what it is and lean into what it wants to deliver. Enjoy the game that the person has written and not impose my views on the game. I can go back and do that later if the game fails me or the table.