Thursday, December 27, 2012

I Have Encountered "That Guy"

Joseph Bloch over at Greyhawk Grognard is lucky, very lucky, or blessed by the gaming gods to never have encountered "that guy," the obnoxious gamer who ruins the game for everybody else.  He's been gaming for 35 years. And I've been gaming for 22+ years, and I've encountered that "that guy" several times. Once is enough.

I think, however, that most of use have been that guy at one time or another, especially back during our teenage years. In fact, that's where I first encountered that guy, who played a slutty female half-elf who tried to ruin marriages at the bar while other players rolled their eyes and just wanted to get to the dungeon. And I, the DM, just said, "Fine you ruin the man's marriage," but then the guy got mad because I wouldn't let him roleplay it out.

I've met that guy, the killer DM. But what's more annoying is that guy who loved to have the characters captured and all of their stuff taken away.  Every few sessions it'd be like module A1: In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords over and over again. Yep, you're captured! All your stuff is gone, including magic items and treasure! Now fight your way out of this labyrinth!

In an 1e AD&D game, that guy wouldn't shut up about his damn flail. We were using the weapon type vs. AC tables in the PHB. Flails got bonuses to hit across the board. "I don't know why you would chose a sword, you should use a flail," he'd say at least once per combat, especially when somebody missed. He wasn't too happy, however, when magic swords kept going to other players.

In wargaming, that guy would run scenarios stacked in his favor to beat you and then afterward tell you what you could have done to win. But when you'd beat him or remember something in the rules that gave you an advantage, he'd get mad. And then next time he'd change the rules. In the end, though, people stopped playing with that guy.

That's just to name a few. I could go on.

But Mr. Bloch is right. That guy was (and is) a game changer, whether that guy sat at your table or was a game designer for TSR or WotC. I'm not sure if the d20 Dark Ages began when the rules changed to thwart "that guy", but I'm sure there's some kind of correlation. Because, the actions of that guy usually involves some sort of bending or breaking of the rules. When people start paying more attention to the rules, well... you get more rules. I think the RPG industry owes a considerable debt to that guy. Because without him, there would be little reason for new editions, rule supplements, and splatbooks.

In my experience, that guy is the first to use, the first to abuse, and the first to complain. We all have lapses or foibles that surface at times, but that guy's primary goal is to use the game for his own benefit--to hell with the other players.

Mr. Bloch, and to anybody else, who reads this: I hope you never encounter that guy.

That guy cannot be reasoned with. You can talk to him. You can yell at him. Most of us at that point would at least get the hint that something was wrong. But that guy won't get it, or will. Either way he just doesn't care about his abusive behavior.

And it is abusive behavior. See, while you're spending your energy figuring that guy out or to thwart his efforts, he's still a problem. You're still acknowledging him, you're dancing his dance, and you're not having fun. You can lower yourself to that guy's level to beat him in the game or thwart his efforts, but any enjoyment is short lived--because then you have to deal with him the next time around, and now he's holding a grudge.

The best way to deal with that guy is to boot him out of the game. Or if you can't boot him, walk away.

If he confronts you, just tell him. Who knows? Maybe he'll see the light.

Or maybe not. Don't waste your time trying to figure it out.

1 comment:

  1. I've been very lucky to encounter few really bad gamers. You are quite right in that once you spot one in a game you must either boot them or walk away. Sadly, that seems to be the only thing which gets their attention.


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