Hints, tips, advice and wisdom for players and runners of role-playing games

Check Your Investment

In Playing, Storytelling on July 13, 2013 at 12:56 pm

IMG_3338Sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to maintain a healthy perspective on game. From time to time, it’s important for Players and Storytellers to check their level of investment. What we do for fun should never be something that hurts us.

A pregnant player once told me that I, as a Player, was threatening the health and life of their unborn child, because of the stress my Character was putting on hers. It never occurred to her that the problem was not my Character’s actions, but the fact that she was so obsessed with game, it was affecting her real life health, and therefore, the health of the child she was carrying.

Another time, I played in a tabletop game that went horribly bad. I intended the following day to approach the Storyteller and try to broach the issue, but before I could, my wife had a miscarriage and resultant hospital stay. The next time I spoke with the Storyteller, he berated me over what a terrible friend I was for not telling him the truth of what I thought about his game. I explained I was dealing with the miscarriage of a child, and he really didn’t care. I offended him by lying through my silence, and that was all he cared about. Needless to say, that was the last I spoke with him. I cut my loss. None of us need friends who put D&D over the death of a baby.

It can be so easy to take our character’s feelings, especially those that are negative, and apply them to ourselves and our Out Of Character feelings about game. We also easily obsess about the game and our characters’ failures or successes, goals and interactions. Fortunately, there are a few things we can do to stay grounded.

Choose your battles: It’s just a game. We pretend to be fantasy creatures that don’t exist. It’s really kind of a childish hobby of make-believe, and, unless a Player is being threatening to you and yours on an OOC level, game just isn’t worth fighting over. Let the Wookie win. Move on. None of this is really all that important in the grande scheme of life. It’s just a game and should be fun, not frustrating and stressful.

Say you’re sorry: It really doesn’t hurt. There’s a big misconception that admitting you’re wrong or saying you’re sorry makes you look weak or makes people stop respecting you. The opposite is true, ESPECIALLY in gaming, where STs and Players usually refuse to do either just based on stubbornness. If you say you’re sorry, or admit you’re wrong, people will like and respect you, and whatever conflict you’re involved in will usually dissipate. Fighting is a headache, and fighting over game is a waste of energy. Say you’re sorry. Move on. None of this is important enough to fight over. It’s just a game, and should be fun, not frustrating and stressful.

Consider things, and acknowledge you may just see things differently: People can agree to disagree. Do it from time to time, it really is okay! Instead of arguing with those who have different opinions than yours, tell them you will consider what they are saying going forward. Usually, that’s all they really want anyway – to feel heard and listened to. If that’s not enough, instead of telling those who wish to fight with you that they are wrong, tell them that you just see things differently. You are saying you disagree, but in a neutral, nonaggressive way that avoids dragging forward the conflict. It’s just a game, and should be fun, not frustrating and stressful.

Remain in perspective: It’s just a game, and should be fun, not frustrating and stressful. We have careers. We have families. We have house payments or rent. We have bills and responsibilities. We have difficulties and troubles in our real life that are important and weigh heavily on us. Gaming is just a hobby, something we do for fun to relax and forget those other things. When it stops being a hobby and stops being fun, don’t look for blame or try to win the conflict. Keep it in perspective, and let go of the obsession, forget the stubbornness, and just man up and do what you need to return it to fun.

It’s not worth it if it’s not fun, and it should never hurt.

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  1. Exactly. I have played in games where IC/OOC conflicts get confused and people that were friends start hating each other. Real life must come first. If it doesn’t for you, examine your life.

  2. This is good advice.

  3. Let the Wookie win.That’s going to be my new motto for gaming!

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