How Do You Like Your Games Served?


For those of you who are gamers, you realize that there are some groups you prefer gaming with and some you don't. The same is true for MMORPG's (or any large, persistent world) - we find a group with similar goals to hang out with (or adventure with or whatever). And the same is also true of gaming groups whose focus is board games.

For those of you who are gamers, you realize that there are some groups you prefer gaming with and some you don't. For Table-toppers, some are too "hack-'n-slash", others not enough; some spend too much time in town bartering/digging up information or negotiating & not enough in the dungeon looting and clearing out the bad guys - or the reverse; some have a focused story line and if you miss a week, you're in trouble (and that's good for some folks) - others are more loosely set and new comers can enter or you can miss a session with no trouble; some are too "rules oriented" (you've met them - the DM who says you can't carry that extra dagger because it'll put you over weight limit?) & some no rules at all - very arbitrary and you can't figure out how to advance in the world - we all find a group that games "like we do" or we end up not happy in our game groups (or giving up all together). The same is true for MMORPG's (or any large, persistent world) - we find a group with similar goals to hang out with (or adventure with or whatever).

The same is true of gaming groups whose focus is board games too - some groups are all about the "party" games (Scategories, Taboo, Celebrities) - the ones that don't take much strategy, hard thinking or complicated constructs - others argue that Settlers of Catan is for the beginners who might be visiting and if the rule book doesn't rival the Sunday edition of the NYT, it's not interesting enough. Most groups are somewhere in between. Interestingly there's another variant - a "z" axis if you will - and that's whether one plays "cut-throat," "care-bear," or somewhere in-between.

I hang out with a group that, in a relatively unusual behaviour in my experience, tends to play differently along that "z" axis depending on which of it's members has shown up that night (or depending on the mood of the group that night). Sometimes Apples-to-Apples is all we can handle - other nights we start with a Settlers game (with *all* the variations we can find) and get harder from there. That's the "easy/party to hard/strategy" axis ("y" if you will). The "x" axis tends to be "are we talking or playing tonight" night in our group - some nights we talk a lot while we're playing, some nights it's all about the game. Some nights we play all out on that "z" axis - cut throat, everyone for their own and blood on the table - other nights we play *total* care-bear - sometimes it's even by table, that is 1 table is cut-throat and the other is care-bear.

All of that is, not surprisingly, going to vary from group to group and some folks will find one extreme or the other vile. That's fine - one goes and finds one's preferred style over time.

The problem enters when a new player joins a group that varies likes ours does who either *only* wants to play one extreme or the other along *either* the "y" or "z" axis - or doesn't get that some nights we're one way and other nights we're other ways. It's a hard pattern to relay to someone who's new - hard even to notice that it's an issue at first - and difficult as hell to teach (assuming the new person is interested in learning ;>). So a new member of a group that varies might always want to play "party" games or only the "thinking" games - might only want to play "cut-throat" or only "care-bear" - and the first night they come we happen to be doing it the way they prefer - when the next time the group meets it's a different kind of night (or different mix of folks or different whatever), it's really hard on the newcomer when they have to figure out what the hell happened to this group they thought they met the previous session.

So - a group that varies - needs to be sure new folks get it - heck, any group needs to make sure a new person knows what the preferences are - "party"/hard; talky/game focus; cut-throat/care-bear - and any other variables that a group of games might "assume" (for some groups it's "kids of x age/x ability vs. no kids") - but a group that varies needs to be the most careful with those kinds of explanations - or everyone has no fun at all.

Hmm. Interesting, twilight. Did this come out of a personal experience you just had? It sounds like it

So if I'm reading this right, you're saying that...different people behave differently at differnt times? And that this needs to be explained to new people that join your board game group? And that those new people need to understand that since different people think differently, they'd best learn to think differently the same way that you do, or risk not fitting in?

I wasn't aware that the board game crowd was so complex and hard to break into. I'm gonna stick with my RPGs methinks.

Tzuriel: um - yea - several of them actually - i've seen it go both well and poorly, so i figured I'd post something about it :>

Scott Free: lol - same issue with RPGing in my experience - if you like playing RAW and I want to join your group, I'm gonna be frustrated - because i think the rules are "guidelines" and that a "good GM" is more inventive than what's on the paper - but others are offended by a GM who plays "off rules" - same thing really.

Our particular group isn't all one way or the other - so it can be confusing for potential new members who think they've found one kind (hard core strategy gaming) when the next week all we play is "party games" :>

lol yeah I see now. Personally, I think if somebody isn't willing to play with the group and only wants to do one thing, they can go screw themselves on their way home. To me, half the reason I roleplay is to hang out with good friends and family and enjoy ourselves (the other half is to tell an awesome story). So, if it's all about the game, you're losing focus. You gotta learn to enjoy the people your with. To me, the game is secondary - people are always primary.

The people should be primary as roleplaying is a social activity, however I've seen far too many players who are just inconsiderate. There are many friends I wouldn't invite to join a game, and many games I've seen die because I made the mistake of playing with my friends instead of finding players whose style match the game.

I have one friend who's locked into gaming with the same group of friends, and its driving her to quit the hobby. She wants good stories and instead what she gets is disorganized hack and slash. Because she's playing with friends who'd be insulted if she quit her only options are to stop playing entirely or put up with the bad gaming =X

I've been there too. After running some very long linked campaigns for the same group, I found that I needed to run for a completely different set of people in order to do something different. That particular group just wanted more of the same, and after a decade I had had enough.

RE: Role-players
I have a distaste for players who don't pay attention to the other players. Too many players have this problem. I've run too many games that have died because the group failed to listen to each other, and it was like running 4 or 5 simultaneous solo adventures.

RE: Board-gamers
My attempts to infiltrate the world of board-gamers has been difficult. There's casual gamers, who refuse to play anything you can't find in Walmart, and then there's 'serious' gamers, who refuse to play anything you can find at Walmart. As their name implies, the 'serious' gamer tends to take things way too 'seriously'. The worst of these serious gamers are so serious that they can't even handle competition, and they try to find games with minimal player interaction. This makes no sense to me. It seems to me that the whole point of a board game is to compete with your opponents. War-gamer are often quite competitive and can be good fun to play with, but their games tend to be drawn out affairs.

Anyway, I think in both the worlds of RPG and Board game fans, there are far too many people who lack adequate social skills, especially considering both are, essentially, group social activities.

AH!!! I CAN SAY STUFF NOW!! Dude, this is fantastic. For like the last two weeks all my comments have been blocked by a spam filter. It's been very sad. And I didn't get a chance to tell Scott to keep doing the game, and now all is lost! Oh, well, we had our fun.

So. Tithian definitely carries a point. I think that's partly the marketing fault of general gaming. They've always angled it toward that crowd, which is too bad because games have such potential. In order to enjoy gaming, you have to be willing to interact socially. Like I said earlier, that's one of the big reasons to game, for me at least.

oh yea - exactly from a personal experience. We had a "party game only" type join us on a "Scategories is all our tired brains can handle" night - get all bent when the next time we wanted to play Catan with all the bells and whistles at one table, Dominion at another and Guitar Hero on Expert in the other room. We also had the reveres - a player who only liked certain types of game play (talking is BAD) and dissed us in public on his blog after coming to one night where we took HOURS to play simple train games because we chatted through the WHOLE game.

When there's enough of us, it's almost always 2 tables - we have some players who default to "care-bear" and some who default to "cut throat" - if we can separate them, we do - if not, one of us who's paying attention (usually) makes it clear at the outset that this table is one or the other for this game - instead of allowing assumptions to get in our way and cause dissension.

The real trick is making sure newcomers realize how much this crowd varies - because that's almost always our big issue - folks thinking it's always whatever way it was when they first showed up.

RPG's are the same thing - the issue is more specific than you express here. An RPG group has exactly the same issues - do I want to hang with an RPG group that ALWAYS follow the rule book (um, no for me - yes for some I've played with over years) or do I prefer a group that "shoots from the hip"? Do I prefer an RPG group that's really all about "Hack 'n Slash" (as in all the time, every time, with LARGE weapons) or do I prefer a group that's more into the "political intrigue" and "puzzle solving" side of RPGing? I've played in both groups - and prefer the latter - tho certainly many don't.

It's not just that Board Gaming groups vary - it's that Gaming Groups vary - regardless of type of game (although that can be a variable too ;>). The question is what type of gaming you like? Most groups I've played with, while they change over time, don't change from week to week (or gaming session to gaming session) - our group does. Like *every* group of gamers out there, we want new players that are similar enough to us to enjoy themselves and to not demand we do everything in a totally new way (their way) - that's not "demanding they think differently the way we do" any more than any other group - I think I just spoke about it in a way that i suspect a lot of others don't.

Board games are a blast - don't pass them up because my group is eclectic as hell - create your own type of gaming group and abuse the board games as you see fit :>.