Thursday, January 9, 2014

Maybe I'm That Guy: A Bit O' the Rant

Last night I was reading an article about GMing and the psychology of dealing with players and running a game.  The more I read the more frustrated I got.  When I saw that the players and GM should have a 'safe word' in case things got too heated, I had a visceral reaction of wanting to punch the writer until he stopped moving. 

I'm all for folks getting along and having a game.  Gaming is supposed to be enjoyable, otherwise why do it?  But when you add pop psychology techniques into the mix on how to manage players and feelings...just saying it makes me want to throw up...it becomes a workplace situation where being politically correct must be observed when your killing a hundred imaginary goblins with an imaginary fireball.  Screw that.

People get into arguments.  It happens.  You don't need a damn group hug and pass the talking pillow around the circle.  Group dynamics work best when you get a group with a common sense of what you want out of the game.  The Monday night crew I game with are all 40's dudes who have been playing for years who enjoy making stupid jokes, making fun of each other and rolling dice.  We cheer and laugh at the failures as much as the successes.  Probably more at the failures.  But we come together each week expecting a break from our real life responsibilities and worries. 

Others want something else out of the game.  Maybe it becomes more to them than just a game and take it more serious when bad things happen to their characters.  That kind of person would not fit into our group.  I would hate to see someone come into our group and try to be serious.  I think they would get frustrated very quickly.  We have some grade A smartasses in our group.  Yes Ken, I am putting myself into that category. 

If you need a fricking safe word or a time out chair for your group than the dynamics need to change.  A person may need to go.  It's really no big deal.  There is no congressional right to game or to belong to a group.  If you have a griefer in your group you don't invite him back.  If it's a buddy of your get in his craw and tell him to knock it the hell off and let's have some fun.

Some people will think I'm simplifying the problem.  I would tell them they are complicating the situation.  I've been very fortunate in this regard, with annoying members of a gaming group.  If I don't like it I don't go back.  Why get angry and frustrated?  I can do that at work and get paid for it.  Minimize the bullshit.  Maybe that will be my safe word.

Or maybe I am just that guy.

29 comments:

  1. Maybe you need an article reading safe word?

    Seriously though, I tend to agree. I guess I could see how tips like this might be useful for tournament games or other places where you don't really know people (even then it might be a bit much), but with a standard group it really, really, seems to be overkill.

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    1. I think if I went to a con or a tournament and the GM started talking about a safe word if things got too heated I would thank him for running the game and leave. The few I've been to most are there to have fun, once in a while you run into an obnoxious guy or someone who questions rulings, but again, that's easy enough to handle.

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  2. I think you might have been reading an article about a different sort of roleplaying.
    Maybe you should have The Whisk read it and see if she gets any ideas.

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    1. Ha, no we keep those books separate. I don't want Whisk getting any food magic ideas to get me to wash the dishes more.

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  3. Were they talking a lot about 'The Gimp' and 'getting medieval on your ass?'.

    Trying to think of 'safe words' that might have been used by groups I've been in. "Don't hit me!" comes to mind with maybe the more emphatic and descriptive "Don't hit me with that chair!!!" .

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    1. lol, I like those safe words. Maybe I've found a way to accept the concept.

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    2. I think, in this day and age, a more appropriate "safe word" would be . . .

      DON'T SHOOT!

      But that' just me, Jason! LOL

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  4. I'm inclined to agree personally, but I think the root of a lot of this talk isn't just creeping PC and pop psychology, but rather the increasing degree to which the prevailing gaming environment isn't "groups of old friends" any more, but rather "people who just met in a Meetup group" or "a bunch of people hanging out on Google+". That makes getting a sense of the participants' desires, limitations, values, etc. a much trickier affair than it was in the "old school" days.

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    1. Sure, but again this is just my personal rant. If I need someone to come up with safe word or some sort of why can't we all get along jargon I wouldn't want to be involved with the game or group. If it was someone I knew from blogging and that was their way of DMing I would probably stick around and see why it was needed.

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  5. I try to keep Wheaton Law in mind.

    Don't be a dick

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    1. That's not a Wheaton Law, that was the 11th commandment that fell of when Moses tripped. Wheaton is way late to the party with that concept.

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  6. What was the article? I've heard about using "safe words" for World of Darkness RPGs, but was this about another RPG like D&D?

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    1. This was an article about D&D. About getting a group together for a campaign. Overall, I do like the author, but I did want to punch him a lot while reading this particular piece.

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  7. I have to agree with you, games are meant to be fun if you need safe words and pillows then it is time for a serious change. Our group has played for years and ripping the piss is part of it all, and so is getting on with it even if we have had a bad day its our night out and an escape from the everyday. Anyone who tries to join us that cant have fun or take a bit of banter does not get a return visit. Life is too short for that type of must win attitude

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  8. I only need a safe word when I'm gaming with my wife. Otherwise....totally on board with you. If the goup dynamic somehow requires a safe word, something has gone horribly, horribly wrong and it's time to clean house.

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  9. Tim, I know you may find this disappointing, but I don't think you're "just that guy."

    Looks like you just one of several hundred (thousand ?) of "those guys." :D

    Before you write to the author, remember; when you argue with those guys, you're just dragging yourself down to their level . . . somewhere in the mud.

    And you know Ivy hates it when you drag mud into her house. ;)

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  10. Yeah, I'm inclined to agree with you, Tim. Maybe it's just the "safe word" terminology/concept that bothers me, which suggests something so painful (or dangerous) that you need it to stop right now. In gaming terms, really, if someone is being so much of a d**k that you desperately need his/her behavior to stop immediately, why wouldn't the group just kick the d**k out of the game? What the concept of "safe word" suggests is that it's okay to push d**kish behavior to the limits of others' tolerance but not to be d**kish beyond that point. But being d**kish at all (and by being d**kish, I mean, not paying any attention to how your behavior affects others) is unacceptable. Period.

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    1. Just so you know, we all know those stars mean. Two dicks and a quad of dickishs. ha. Agreed.

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  11. I started reading that article too, when I got to the 'safe word' my eyes glazed over and I skipped to the end. For pity's sake these are games. If you have someone who needs a safe word to play a game, it's a good indication that no one else will enjoy the game.

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  12. Never heard of the concept, maybe it's someone who was short of an idea for an article?

    Play and have fun, or do something else works for me

    Ian

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  13. If someone in my group got squirmy and were to suggest we needed a "safe word," I'd let him know that the safe word is "throbbing purple erection." Then I'd laugh and my players would laugh and Mr. Sensitive would run for the hills, I'd bet.

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    1. ha, exactly. There just has to be a place for responsibility for yourself. If you are unable to connect or get along with a group there is nothing wrong with it. Just isn't for that particular person. The person would need to look for a different group and not force fit into another group.

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  14. Tim, you are that guy. Now give me my safe word.

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  15. All seriousness aside, the terminology and methodology is common to group therapy and support groups. It can also be a coping method for some individuals who struggle with mental illness, particularly in social situations.

    If a gaming group knowingly includes someone who has serious mental health issues (and I am sure that some do), then maybe it applies.

    If my group had to employ this strategy as a result of somebody being a jerk, then I'd find something else to do with my time.

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  16. Where did you run across this garbage? I'd love to read the original.

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  17. Can my safe word be Fluggaenkoecchicebolsen?

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    1. The crisis will resolve itself before you can get all of that out of your mouth. I like it.

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